What Is Data Security In Business?

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Let’s Talk about the Data Security in Business. Did you know that cybercrime has risen by 600% during the coronavirus pandemic? Malicious parties masqueraded as the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control. They did this to get companies and individuals to share sensitive data and donate money.

Research by McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies indicate that cybercrime led to a staggering $1 trillion in losses during 2020. Forecasts show that if companies aren’t careful with their data security in business, there can be a whopping US$6 trillion loss due to cybercrime in 2021. This figure will skyrocket to $10.5 trillion by 2025!

As a budding business, you need to do all you can to maintain the integrity of data security in the business. In this article, we’ll take a look at what data security in business entails. Then we will consider the different types of data security you need to focus on and how they can make your business vulnerable if you’re not careful. Finally, we look at how you can improve your data security in the business.

Let’s get started:

Why is data security important to a business?

Data security in business is one of the pivotal considerations for every organization. A business that is not up to mark on its security issues, will find itself extremely vulnerable to attacks. Consider the following examples:

  • Capital One Financial Corporation, an American banking organization, experienced a vicious case of hacking. The company’s sensitive data was breached and stolen, affecting 100 million customers in the US and 6 million customers in Canada.
  • In 2000, large corporations in the US, including CNN, Yahoo!, Amazon & eBay were attacked by a DDOS worm. This resulted in a cumulative $US1.2 billion dollars’ worth of damage to the companies.
  • China’s Google branch was hacked by an unknown assailant in 2009, leading to numerous highly sensitive and high-profile political documents being leaked. The compromised documents consisted of many national security and trade details, which required complete confidentiality.
  • Shipping company Pitney Bowes has been the victim of a ransomware attack twice already. The attacker did not steal any data. But they locked all customers and employees out of the company’s network, which prevented access to any Pitney Bowes databases, services and software. This resulted in massive business loss and customer attrition.
  • The Melissa virus has been plaguing Microsoft users since 1999. Sent through email, it would infect the computer of the mail recipient instantly and would multiply 50 numerous times. Every time the user sent an email, the Melissa virus would attach itself to the email and infect another person’s computer. This virus spread worldwide and has cost more than $80 million in damages.
  • In 2009, a hacker named Gonzales hacked the network and databases of over 250 financial institutions in the United States. In what was America’s largest financial cybercrime, Gonzales stole the credit card details of millions of customers, putting them and the institutions in jeopardy.

These are just a few of the thousands of cybercrimes that have occurred in the world today. No matter what way cybercriminals choose to attack you, the end result is the same if you don’t pay attention to data security in business:

  • Your business’s data is compromised.
  • Your customers’ private and sensitive data is leaked to a criminal who can wreak havoc.
  • Your brand image is tarnished (possibly forever).
  • You’ll end up paying millions or even billions in damages to disgruntled customers.
  • You’ll have to spend millions more to rebuild your branding and upgrade the security of your technology.

All of this can put your company back by years and make it exceptionally hard to succeed. In fact, here’s something very concerning – 60% of SMEs go bankrupt and shut their doors permanently, within 6 months of experiencing a cybercrime attack!

Investing in data security in business can prevent this terrible fate from befalling you.

Types of data security

Data security in business involves securing numerous facets of your company’s technology. A single crack in the wall can bring down the entire dam when it comes to lax data security in business.

So, what types of data security in business do you need to consider when fortifying your company against cybercriminals?

  • Internet security

Internet-based cybercriminal activity can affect us in numerous ways. From hackers bringing down internet connectivity to a specific region to hijackers taking control of certain website domains, servers, or networks, there’s much that can go wrong. So, it’s really essential to invest in the right internet security package. These cybersecurity solutions will protect you by securing your internet browsers and websites.

You’ll be able to tell if the website is secure or not if you see this “https”. The “s” represents that your internet browsers and websites are protected from attack. Additionally, you’ll notice a padlock symbol on the right-hand-side corner of the browser and this also indicates that your internet security is fortified.

  • Network security

Network security comprises of securing your collection of hardware and software technologies. If any of these components are exposed, it’ll act like the perfect gateway for any hacker or malicious criminal to tap into your security vulnerabilities.

Dedicated network security solutions can offer layers of protection to prevent intruders from entering your network. These security solutions prevent malware and viruses from entering your networks and affecting your day-to-day functioning.

  • Endpoint security

Endpoints refer to all those points of contact/connection, where you plug in your devices. Sometimes, cybercriminals can infect endpoints or ports. When you plug your laptop, tablet, or mobile phone into that endpoint, your device is attacked by malicious criminal technology. For example, let’s say one of your employees is in the airport and is traveling for a meeting out of town. They decide to charge their laptop in the publicly available charging port. This infected endpoint can transfer something vicious (like ransomware) and affect all the sensitive and confidential documents your employee has on the laptop.

Endpoint attacks also happen over the internet. So, let’s say that your employee decides to join the free public Wi-Fi connection when they’re at the airport. The moment they do so, they’ll make their device vulnerable to attack through the public internet.

Endpoint security solutions will ensure that your business-related devices will never be put at risk when they come in touch with endpoints of any kind.

How do you ensure Data Security?

Now that we’ve seen the types of data security in business you need, let’s look at what types of security controls you should administer to protect your company and your customers:

Identity authentication & access management

People, software, or devices that are unauthorized to access your systems & databases, can cause a lot of harm. When you’re implementing data security in business, you should put in place security that can facilitate access control through identity authentication. This way, only those who are identified by your security measures as being authorized to access something, will be allowed to access it.

Typically, identity authentication & access control is done according to three characteristics:

  • Role-based access – Access given to role/team-based resources only.
  • Mandatory access – Access given to all company resources authorized system administrators who control all other types of access.
  • Discretionary access – Access given to various resources according to the discretion of the administrator/business head.
  • Data backup & recovery

Some types of viruses and malware cause your entire network to crash and the data to get erased. If you don’t have a data backup and recovery solution, you’ll be at risk of permanently losing your important data. Such a scenario can be very debilitating to your company.

Data encryption

Encryption is the process of coding the true message in data, as something entirely different. A special alphanumeric key is used to encrypt the data. Depending on the sophistication of the encryption, the data can be decrypted using the same key or a different key.

Tokenization

Tokens are security devices that employees must possess if they want to access company resources. In tokenization, the restricted resources are tokenized to give access only when the user possesses the tokens.

Data masking

Data masking is a good technique for data security in the business. Here, the data is masked by proxy numbers and letters. The authorization for unmasking the data is given only to those who have been granted access to the data.

Permanent data deletion

This is an option for data security in business when you have years of unwanted data clogging your system. Sometimes companies forget the data of old customers or closed accounts and do not delete the data. This data is still lying, collecting dust, and is easy to hack into by criminals. To prevent this data from getting compromised, you should schedule a permanent data deletion of unused accounts/folders every few years. This could include everything from wiping your computer’s memory to destroying hard disks to clearing your cache & cookies and more.

How do you establish data security?

In addition to the above steps, here are a few more ways you can establish data security in the business. You can share these tips with your employees too, to ensure they maintain business security practices:

  • Use strong passwords that combine alphabets, numbers, and special characters. Change your password every two weeks and don’t keep the same password across different accounts/devices. Ideally, it works better if you use passphrases, rather than passwords. Don’t share these passwords with colleagues.
  • Don’t click on emails from people you don’t know. Such emails could contain malware, ransomware, or viruses, which could affect your systems. Even if you do know the sender of the mail, don’t be in a hurry to open any attachments. Ensure your internet security is activated to block anything malicious from getting downloaded into your system.
  • Keep updating your devices regularly. Software updates contain state-of-the-art security patches, which can help strengthen your existing in-built security settings. Automating software updates ensures you don’t forget to update your systems.
  • Start investing in cloud computing. When you move your business to the cloud, you store your data in an off-site server, controlled by a third party. Cloud storage offers immense data security in business and negates the need for you to invest in physical servers of your own.
  • Don’t leave any computers or tablets switched on and connected to the internet or a charging point at all times. Switch your devices off after use. Keeping them on makes you vulnerable to internet-based or end-point-based attackers.
  • Configure the data sharing, access, and privacy settings of all applications and software you use. Otherwise, these apps/software will be collecting data silently as you work, without you knowing it.
  • Enable remote data wiping on your devices. That way, if your office devices get stolen, you can access them remotely and delete confidential company data.
  • Disable automatic downloads on all your devices. This will ensure no virus or malware gets automatically downloaded onto your system.
  • Avoid faxing private information if you can. You don’t know who’s at the receiving end of the fax.
  • Don’t make purchases using public wi-fi. Some types of cyberattacks allow the attacker to see exactly what’s displayed on your screen and they may note down your card details.
  • Use multi-factor authentication when logging into your devices. That way, your device remains locked even if it gets stolen or hacked.
  • Change your passwords and inform third-party service providers of any system/data breaches the moment they occur. The faster you take action, the sooner you’ll be able to regain data security in the business.