Some of the nation’s largest firms have been hit by hackers and data breaches that exposed millions of their customers’ sensitive data to the world. Others have had proprietary information lifted from them by unscrupulous competitors or digital privateers who have sold the data to the highest bidder. Smaller companies are not immune; if anything, they have become prime targets as larger organizations have tightened their security.
Most security breaches and data thefts are crimes of opportunity, so it’s possible to foil many of them from the outset with simple protection protocols. These are the steps you need to take to keep your organization safer.
Few other data security measures you take will be as meaningful as training personnel in security fundamentals. As cyber-attacks get more sophisticated, they’re better able to fool people who aren’t conversant in their tactics into clicking on a link or downloading an attachment. That solitary click could be all someone needs to get past your security perimeter – and that’s why education must be your first step in improving security. Office-wide meetings to show employees what they should and shouldn’t do online are vital. Follow up with real-life scenarios that help personnel see what phishing email and untrustworthy links actually look like.
Data used to be relatively isolated. When it was all in one physical location on your server, information was easier to protect. Now, it’s spread across a wide array of devices. Employees read email, access the company VPN, and exchange potentially sensitive files from a variety of mobile platforms, and securing them all is one of the primary challenges for IT directors and security administrators. This is another area in which education can serve you well. Get people in the habit of locking down their devices with passwords and discuss how to come up with memorable, yet hard to crack passwords on all their devices.
Assess Your Hosting Company
How much do you trust your hosting providers? Do they take security as seriously as you do by using encryption, requiring passwords, and verifying changes to account information? If your company’s website includes an ecommerce platform, choose shopping cart options that have gone through PCI compliance audits. You’re usually more secure with the bigger names in the industry, so consider reputation as well as price when deciding on an ecommerce solution for your company. Larger providers also have their own security staff that’s constantly working to eliminate vulnerabilities as they appear.
Use SSL Encryption
Transactions on your site that employ SSL/HTTPS protocols protect your and your customers’ data best. Your ecommerce platform, if you sell online, should also allow secure SSL transactions. When you’re handling financial transactions digitally, it’s vital to protect that sensitive information. Not only will it provide greater security for existing customers, but it also shows potential buyers that your organization takes your duty to protect their information seriously. As a bonus, SSL certificates on ecommerce sites get a boost to search engine rankings.
Deploy Web Application Firewalls
Some attacks against your company’s site may not have data gathering as their goal. DDoS attacks have become more common, and cross-site scripting can inject malicious payloads onto your site and bypass other security measures. Web application firewalls, or WAFs, provide inexpensive protection and take only minutes to set up. WAFs should be a core part of your protection, especially as they offer such ease of use.