Cyber Security

How to Prevent Data Breaches: 5 Essential Tips

This article will show you what can be done to prevent data breaches and how to protect your organization from cyberattacks.

Data breaches have become a regular occurrence, and they carry a heavy cost for an organization.  In 2021, the average cost of a data breach was $4.24 million.

While any organization can be the victim of a data breach, there are steps that an organization can take to manage its data breach risks.  Here, we outline five steps that an organization can take to prevent data breaches.

How to Prevent Data Breaches

Data breaches can cause significant harm to an organization, its customers, and its brand image. A successful data breach can result in the lost of corporate intellectual property, customer data, or other sensitive information. However, an organization can manage this risk by implementing these five best practices.

Establish clear policies and procedures

Most data breaches involve employees, but, in most cases, these trusted insiders aren’t trying to harm the organization. Negligence, misunderstandings, and lack of knowledge of corporate security policies all put an organization’s data security at risk.

Preventing accidental data breaches requires clear communication of corporate security policies. All employees, contractors, and other trusted insiders should sign corporate security policies and confidentiality agreements. By doing so, an organization reduces the risk of accidents because everyone with access to sensitive data understands how that data can be used and how it should be protected.

Secure hiring and termination procedures

Onboarding and offboarding present some of the greatest risks to an organization’s data security. Employees entering the organization are granted access to corporate resources, which determines the risk that they pose to the company. 40% of departing US employees admit to taking corporate data with them, abusing their legitimate access and breaching sensitive company data.

Secure onboarding and hiring processes are essential to managing an organization’s risk of data breaches. New hires’ access should be tailored to their role, and departing employees’ access to corporate resources should be managed and monitored to ensure that corporate data doesn’t walk out the door with them.

Monitor access and activity

Visibility is one of the biggest challenges that organizations face when attempting to manage their risk of data breaches. 43% of companies don’t know where their data is, making it impossible to protect it effectively.

As corporate IT infrastructure and data stores grow and expand, attempting to monitor and manage them manually is unscalable and unsustainable. Companies need tools that automatically discover, map, and track what is deployed across their entire network infrastructure, servers, databases, and more. 

This provides crucial visibility into how corporate systems are used and how data moves through them, which is essential to identifying and halting potential data breaches.

Implementing data security in the endpoint

As remote work grows more common, on-prem perimeter-focused data loss prevention (DLP) solutions are no longer enough. Employees working remotely will be directly connected to the Internet, and remote users’ devices may store sensitive corporate data.

Managing data breach risks for the distributed and remote enterprise requires DLP solutions that monitor and secure remote users’ mobile devices and desktop computers. This allows the IT staff to determine what sensitive data is leaving, when, and through which specific channel or device based on the organization’s defined compliance rules for data protection.

Use data breach prevention tools

Sensitive corporate data can be breached in various different ways. Employees may upload it to unapproved cloud-based applications. Malware may collect and exfiltrate it from infected computers. Phishing attacks may trick employees into handing it over to an attacker.

Data breach prevention tools are essential to maintaining visibility into and control over an organization’s sensitive data. These solutions can ensure that data is stored securely, monitor how it is accessed and used, and blocked detected exfiltration attempts.

Recommended Data Breach Prevention Tools

Various data breach prevention tools are available that put a range of capabilities at an organization’s disposal. Some recommended tools that a company can use to manage its risk of data breaches include:

  • Falcon Insight (by Crowdstrike): Crowdstrike’s Falcon Insight provides valuable visibility into an organization’s endpoints. Solutions deployed on employee devices can detect and block attempted data breaches and support forensic analysis of potential leaks.
  • UpGuard BreachSight: UpGuard’s BreachSight provides monitoring of an organization’s security security to identify potential leaks of employee credentials, customer data, and other sensitive information.
  • Prey’s Kill Switch: Kill Switch manages an organization’s risk of data breaches due to lost or stolen devices. Organizations can remotely lock or wipe devices, track their location, and take other steps to prevent the exposure of sensitive data and account credentials stored on these devices.
  • FortiSandbox (by Fortinet): Fortinet’s FortiSandbox analyzes traffic in an isolated environment using a wide range of detection techniques. This allows it to identify and block malware from gaining access to an organization’s environment where it could steal and exfiltrate sensitive information.
  • InsiderSecurity: Insider Security’s solutions perform behavioral monitoring of user accounts, databases, and other systems. Using automated data analytics, it can identify potential threats to corporate data, enabling rapid incident response.
  • SpyCloud: SpyCloud provides insight into data released on the Dark Web after it has been stolen by a cybercriminal. This allows organizations to identify previous, missed data breaches and take action to close the security gaps exploited by the attackers.

Takeaways

A successful data breach can result in the loss of an organization’s intellectual property, customer data, or other sensitive information. By managing the risk of data leakage, an organization can save itself from an expensive and embarrassing data breach.

Companies can suffer data breaches from multiple different sources, both internal and external.  Effectively managing the risk of data leaks involves detecting and protecting against external threats, managing the risks that insiders pose to the organization, and implementing robust data monitoring and management practices.

To effectively protect against data breaches incidents, an organization needs the right tools for the job.  This includes solutions that can protect against threats that come over the network as well as device security solutions that can prevent data leaks from lost and stolen devices.

About the author

Norman Gutiérrez

Norman Gutiérrez is our Security Researcher at Prey, one of the leading companies in the security and mobility industry, with more than 8 million users worldwide. In addition to this, Norm is Prey's Content and Communication Specialist, and our Infosec ambassador. Norm has worked for several tech media outlets such as FayerWayer and Publimetro, among others. In his free time, Norman enjoys videogames, cool gadgets, music, and fun board games.