57 million Uber customers, 500 million Yahoo accounts, the US Federal Government, the British National Health Service, 60 million South African citizens and over 145 million people and businesses associated with Equifax. What is the one common thing in them? They’ve all been on the news recently as victims of cyber-attacks, security breaches or hacks.
Data security is everybody’s concern these days, and it’s for a fair reason. There is a substantial increase in the number of successful data breaches owing to the increase in attack surfaces created by widespread adoption of cloud services, complex IT environments and the increasingly urbane nature of the modern cybercriminals.
With heavier dependence on computers and the Internet, there are several potential threats to the data you store. But one thing has been consistently remained true, that most data breaches are avoidable. Although every company has different goals and challenges owing to their data protection policies, many of them make certain mistakes as they begin to tackle data security. To one’s worse plight, these mistakes are often overlooked or accepted as routine, hiding in plain sights disguised as a common practice.
A detailed distressing report by IBM released early this year evaluated cyber-security in business and the most common failures occurring due to poor data security. Let’s have a look at five common mistakes in data security as we hope you’re not the one practicing any of the following five:
- Failure to Strive Beyond Compliance
Ever wondered that complacency could be the factor that kills your productivity, growth, and, in this case, security. The first classic data security failure for most businesses starts at ‘compliance’. It is often said that compliance does not equal security, however, most organizations race to achieve compliance certificates while focusing on their limited security resources. On achieving their compliance certifications, they make the mistake of getting satisfied with their resources. As a result, in recent years, many of the largest security breaches happened in businesses that were completely compliant on paper but offered limited security in practice. If protecting your client’s data is something you boast about, you need to extend your resources beyond just compliance certifications.
- Failure to Recognize the Need for Centralized Data Security
Factually, most business die at stagnation! Sure, compliance is helpful in raising awareness of the need for data security, but companies tend to focus on consistent, enterprise data security, without considering wider perspectives that cover data privacy and security. The absolute focus on the sedentary lines of defense is the main reason for failure in data security here. Nowadays, a typical organization works in a diverse IT environment that is constantly changing and growing. Most organizations lack control and visibility over their sensitive data as it travels in their complex IT infrastructure.
Herein, the need for centralized data security comes into the picture. Organizations need to adopt an end-to-end data security practice, including privacy and protection control that will cover the business in all aspects. Although the inculcation of IoT, Big Data, and the Cloud are foundational stones of businesses today, these factors are also open-ends for a malware attack. It’s imperative to navigate all of these while protecting your business.
- Failure to Assign Responsibility for the Data Itself
This phenomenon is also known as runaround. When you try to find out who is to be held responsible for lingering data, you might get redirected to different people in different departments. No one explicitly owns responsibility for the subtle data that’s being collected, shared and exploited to perform business operations.
Not knowing who is responsible for your valued databases and information can make it difficult to hold anyone answerable when things go wrong. Under such circumstances, processing, documentation, mitigation and implementation becomes impossible. Data is the most valuable asset for any business or organization. It is important to extend your functionalities with a department with an outlined responsibility to protect your database.
- Failure to Fix Known Vulnerabilities
According to a research report by Gartner, almost all the recent hacks used known vulnerabilities. Moreover, many of the malware and ransomware attacks leveraged those vulnerabilities which were at least, if not greater than, six months old. Some flaws in the system that go unpatched for long are the dreadful gateway for security breaches. Most of the famous breaches in Gartner’s research were from known flows that went unpatched even after their fixes were released. Cybercriminals are actively looking out for unpatched vulnerabilities because they are always the easiest entry point. Fix those vulnerable flaws you know about, unless you’re actively looking out to spend huge amount of money on data recovery.
- Failure to Prioritize and Leverage Data Activity Monitoring
Monitoring the data flow across the organization is a fundamental aspect to the well-thought out data security plan. Yet, most of organizations encounter the maximum failure here. Organizations need to keep a track of all the sensitive information and company-data that users access. Experts should be deployed to evaluate if each of those access request are normal or whether any of them could represent an elevated risk.
It’s common for businesses to be vulnerable in today’s combat threat landscape, but companies need to assess their efforts and make sure that they are devoting the right resources to their data protection strategy. Many tech-giants can afford all the security measures available in the market as per their needs. However, when resources and bills are limited, it is important to prioritize and leverage the resources that you have.