What Exactly is a Data Breach & How Can You Protect Your Business From One?

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What Exactly is a Data Breach & How Can You Protect Your Business From One?

security_breachWhat comes to mind when you think of a data breach? Do you think of hackers making their way into a business’s confidential information and exposing it all for the world to see? These types of data breaches do happen.

However, there are several different types of data breaches. While they may not all be as intriguing or over-the-top as the scenario we just described, they all have the potential to truly harm businesses.

A data breach can be something as simple as a bank employee accidentally sharing a client’s financial information with an authorized co-worker or leaving confidential information on your desk for other individuals to see.

While these scenarios may seem benign, they can produce disastrous effects especially if the information gets into the wrong hands or compliance regulations are broken.  Financial institutions and healthcare organizations have to be particularly careful with safeguarding client or patient information from prying eyes.

A data breach can result in government violations, identity theft, stolen records, fines, and even criminal charges. Certainly, no business owner of any kind wants to find him or herself in those types of situations.

But with so much information out there and hackers growing more skilled every day, how do you build a safe environment and stop a data breach before it starts?

The Data Breach in Layman’s Terms

The actual definition of a data breach is quite simple. It can be defined as the theft or access of information from a system or network without authorization or knowledge. Typically the information accessed or stolen is confidential or personal. This may include health records, financial records, personal employee information, and company paperwork.

Major companies affected by data breaches in recent history include Target, the Trump hotels, T-Mobile, and even Snapchat. While they’ve all managed to bounce back after the breaches, their reputations and profits were significantly affected.

Avoid Lost Devices

We all lose things from time to time. However, the after effects are very different when you lose a company pen than when you lose a company device. Work laptops, tablets, smartphones, and the like should be kept under close watch. The Online Trust Alliance (OTA) determined that 18% of data breaches were caused by lost devices or documents.

Of course, it’s basically impossible to ensure that nothing ever gets lost. You can, however, reduce the probability by investing in employee training. Teach employees how to best care for their devices, avoid phishing scams, and recover lost information. You may also consider having employees check devices in and out of work each day.

Remember that any policies you put into place have to be followed consistently to truly protect your business.

Protect Your Business from Hackers

Very few of us know how to protect our information from hackers. It takes training and re-training to avoid providing easy access to private information. Instruct employees how to select (and remember) robust passwords, encrypt data, safeguard credentials, and more.

You can beef up security levels by filtering content and blocking malicious sites. If employees can’t accidentally download infected items, you’ve successfully mitigated a number of risks.

Invest in System Monitoring

Want to truly protect your system? Look into a monitoring program and data loss prevention technology. These tools will allow you to continually look into the behavior of employees and pinpoint any suspicious activity.

Set Up a BYOD Policy

It isn’t uncommon for employees to connect personal devices such as tablets and cellphones to your business’ network. Many people feel more comfortable working from their own devices and may use them at home as well to perform work related tasks.

Preventing employees from using their own devices at work is incredibly difficult. It’s often more advantageous to invest in a BYOD policy. Set up limits on the types and number of devices allowed. Consider terms of use and increase security through mobile device management software.

It’s smart to be concerned about data breaches and find proactive ways to protect your business. At Prudential Associates, we provide total solution risk management services to companies to prevent disasters including data breaches.

Contact us today to learn more about the most effective ways to keep your business information safe and away from prying eyes.