The best way to protect against the nightmare and cost that comes with data breaches is to prevent them. However, before you can prevent them you need to understand them. Below is a simple guide describing the types and cost of data breaches you could encounter and how to prevent them.

How Do Data Breaches Happen?

Data breaches happen with cybercriminals access data and sensitive information. Data breaches are costly. According to the 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report by IBM, the average total cost of a data breach is $3.92 million in addition to the cost of the organization’s reputation. Smaller scale breaches cost on average of $150 per record lost. Generally, there are two basic ways this can happen: physically or remotely. Here are some examples:

Physical actions:

While you may think cybercriminals are savvy hackers that only access data remotely, a common way they get access is actually from physical actions. For example, they could steal paperwork, laptops, phones, or storage devices. They could also access physical assets and copy them without anyone knowing they were accessed.

Social engineering:

Protecting your business from internet security threats is a part of a good data breach prevention plan. You’ve probably heard of phishing which is when cyber criminals send malicious emails that look real in an effort to get access to sensitive data. For example, they may send an email that looks like it came from your company’s IT department requesting a staff member’s password to be changed so they can then access their accounts. These scams can come in the form of emails and calls and help scammers get access to confidential information that they then either sell or use to commit fraud. 

Human Error:

Data breaches aren’t always due to malicious activity. Accidents can happen, and sometimes a person simply leaves sensitive information somewhere where it is not protected, or accidently sends it to the wrong person (or people).

How To Prevent Data Breach: 12 Best Practices

Because data breaches are so costly, it’s important to invest time and money in making sure they do not happen. Below are 12 best practices to prevent data breaches.

Educate your employees

Fighting ignorance is one of the best ways to prevent data breaches. It is important to educate your employees on how to protect data from being hacked. You can do this by helping them understand how to create strong passwords, how often they should change their passwords, and by helping them spot, avoid, and report phishing scams and other suspicious activity.  

Create and update procedures

You can create procedures related to data and update them consistently. This will make it clear what your company’s expectations are as it relates to data. This will also show to your employees that you take data seriously and remind them that they should take it seriously as well. Additionally, it is wise to consider using roles and permissions when it comes to accessing data. With the PaySimple solution, you can set users to have varying access and viewing permissions. This feature provides a proactive approach to enforcing data procedures within your business.

Remote monitoring

Remote monitoring provides around-the-clock monitoring of your network. You can work with a managed IT services provider so that you don’t have to staff IT people around the clock to monitor your systems for you.

Data backup and recovery

Sometimes data breaches can maliciously delete all of your data. Thus, it is important to have your data backed up so that it can easily be recovered in case of data loss, a server crash, or even a natural disaster. Your IT team should have an automated remote backup system set in place on a regular basis to protect you from losing important data.

Keep only what you need

Keep track of the information you keep on your computers and occasionally eliminate what is unnecessary. It is also important to minimize the number of places that you store confidential data and keep track of where those places are.   

Destroy before disposal

Before you dispose of anything that may have confidential information on it, make sure it is properly destroyed. For example, cross-cut shred paper files. Also, make sure you use software designed to permanently wipe data off things like hard drives as simply deleting the files or reformatting hard drives does not fully erase data.

Safeguard data

Because physical actions can cause data breaches, it is important to make sure you safeguard all data, including physical files. Make sure physical records are stored in a secured location and that access is restricted to only the employees that need access.

Control computer usage

Employees should not be able to use their computers for anything but business use. If they do, you run the risk of them going on file sharing peer-to-peer websites, or other risky websites where they are likely to get hacked and pose a risk to your business.

Have and update security software

It is important to make sure you take proper precautions to avoid a security breach. You can purchase security software and make sure it is up to date on a continuous basis. Firewalls, anti-virus software and anti-spyware software are important tools to defend your business against data breaches.

Encrypt data

If your data transmissions are confidential, make sure that they are encrypted before they are being sent. You may also want to require employees to not use Wi-Fi networks as that can allow cyber criminals to intercept data.

Manage use of portable media

Flash drives, CDs, and DVDs are forms of portable media that are easy to lose or steal. Make sure that if portable media is being used that the data on them is encrypted so they can only be accessed by authorized users.

Hire an expert

Managing a small business is time consuming and thinking about data breaches may not be in your wheelhouse. If that is the case, you may want to consider hiring an expert to run this for you, or simply consult you on best practices so help you avoid a data breach within your company.

Data Breach Prevention Starts Here

As mentioned above, keeping confidential information in one place is a helpful way to prevent data breaches. With PaySimple, customer data and payment information is securely stored within our solution, taking the responsibility and risk from your business. PaySimple uses the most powerful security and encryption tools that exist in today’s marketplace to ensure your business and the customers you serve are protected. To learn more about our solution and our security, contact one of our representatives today.

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