The greatest security risk to companies currently is data breach. According to IBM Security Services 2014 intelligence data, there were 1.5 million cyber attacks in the US in 2013. The financial consequences for a company are, primarily, loss of productivity and damage to reputation. However, there are also substantial costs associated with forensics, technical support, and regulatory requirements. Technologies such as the cloud, prolific mobile devices, and growing corporate networks for the communication and storage of data is the focus of increasing hacker activity.
IBM emphasizes that establishing effective data security requires significant investment. Assessing an organization’s current vulnerability to threats and risk tolerance is essential. Four steps are recommended for a data breach prevention strategy.
- Assess company data. Some information requires more security and limited access, such as employee personal data and financial information. Decide who requires access to which data, and adopt security measures accordingly. Don’t store nonessential information. The New York Times reported on the infamous breach of the retailer Target. The breach revealed that the company was unnecessarily storing the four-digit pin numbers of customer debit cards, effectively, a gift for the hacker.
- Develop a plan and a budget. This will involve the input of IT professionals, managers, and senior decision makers. Company leaders are often unaware of current threats and the costs involved in adequately securing an organization’s data. The input of IT experts and managers can bridge the knowledge gap and deliver the required resources to prevent cyber-attacks.
- Prepare for the worst and develop an emergency response plan. This may involve setting up alternative work processes in another location and duplicating important data for storage off-site. A tested, functional emergency plan will ensure that your business can continue to function in the event of a disabling attack.
- Train and educate employees to build awareness of the need for diligent security measures. Revisit and update security procedures at regular intervals. Ensure incoming and contract staff are aware and onboard with rules and policies.
For technology and security issues, expert contractors and consultants can advise you on optimal, cost-effective strategies for your particular business.
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