We often hear about data breaches affecting companies as big as Yahoo!, eBay and Uber. But why is data security such a big issue, and how can you prevent a data breach from occurring in your own company? Let’s take a look at the what, why and how of data security breaches, and the measures all businesses should take to protect their data.
What is a data security breach?
If you employ staff, keep a list of customer contacts or accept card payments, your company has access to confidential data. This is probably stored digitally either on the premises or remotely (in the cloud), but paper records also contain sensitive information. A data security breach happens when this data is accessed by someone who isn’t authorised to do so, and/or copied, stolen, shared or transmitted.
How and why does it happen?
There are different types of data breach; some are deliberate and some may be accidental. Many data security breaches are a mixture of the two; accidental oversights by the company might lead to vulnerabilities that can be taken advantage of by hackers.
- Email loss: when data contained in emails is leaked
- Hacking: when professional or amateur groups maliciously target a company’s data, using technology to infiltrate any security measures
- Lost or stolen equipment, such as laptops containing sensitive information
- Lost or stolen media, such as paper documents or USB sticks
- Inside job: a disgruntled employee with easy access to sensitive data might decide to make it public
- Accidental transmitting of confidential information. This could be as simple as sending a confidential email to everyone in your address list, rather than just to its intended recipient
How does it affect companies globally?
A data breach can be extremely costly to any company, both in terms of loss of revenue, and the damage done to their reputation – customers will be reluctant to put their trust in any business that can’t guarantee to keep their details secure. The exposure of sensitive operational information can also damage a company’s ability to compete with its rivals.
Some companies are more susceptible to hacking than others – banks, for example, hold financial data that is extremely valuable to cyber criminals. Media outlets and government departments may have access to confidential information that campaigners or journalists may want to uncover.
How can a business prevent it from happening?
There are several things that businesses can and should do, in order to prevent data breaches. Company culture is vital; policies need to be put in place to ensure that employees always follow correct procedure, to minimise the risk of data leaks. Training sessions can be a useful way to educate all staff on the importance of protecting the company’s sensitive data, the measures required by GDPR and other regulations – and the serious penalties for anyone found to have breached data protection policies.
Technology is also a vital tool to safeguard your data. If you’re not sure whether your current setup is keeping your sensitive data safe, it’s worth undergoing a data security audit to highlight any weaknesses. For the best levels of security, data encryption encodes sensitive information, ensuring that even if it is intercepted, it isn’t readable by anyone except authorised users.
Pace IT have years of experience securing valuable business information through data encryption practices. Contact us today to see how we can help ensure your business does not fall foul to a data breach.