Data Security: How to Protect Your Company’s Sensitive Data
Data Security is a major problem that internet users must deal with. It has been this way since the beginning of the online era. Hijacks, phishing, and data breaches are among the biggest threats to corporate security of any company regardless of its size.
Organizations are continually investing heavily in information technology (IT) and cybersecurity capabilities. The objective? To protect critical assets.
IT security Giant, Cisco, highlights that “Data is the currency of the knowledge economy. This makes it a highly valuable commodity – for organizations and cybercriminals alike. As threats to data security mount, organizations must find ways to keep their critical digital assets safe at all touch points and compliant to international data protection regulations.”
The process of protecting data from unauthorized access is called Data Security. It often includes data encryption, hashing, tokenization, and password management best practices.
Whether an enterprise needs to protect a brand, intellectual property, customer’s information or provide controls for critical infrastructure, there are three common elements for incident detection and response: people, processes, and technology.
First, it is important to ask the question the following question to protect your Company´s sensitive Data.
What are You Protecting?
Especially for the Insurance Industry, data is the wider term to identify information that can be categorized into two broad groups:
- Personal identifiable information (PII): This allocates a person into a group of people. For example: “consumer of this product.”
- Personal health information (PHI): This refers directly to a person and can be used for insurance and health coverage, for example.
Although both types are confidential, PII is much less sensitive than PHI.
Modern digital transformation is profoundly altering every aspect of how businesses operate with confidential information. At the same time, consumer awareness of the importance of data privacy is on the rise. Fueled by increasing public demand for data protection initiatives.
This new context demands the creation of multiple and new privacy regulations. The most recent ones include Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA).
These rules join longstanding data security provisions like the ‘Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), protecting electronic health records.
In conclusion, the business value of data has never been greater than it is today. The loss of sensitive data or intellectual property (IP) for example can impact future innovations and profitability.
The need for Physical and Digital Security
Now that you know what you are protecting, take notice of the tools at your disposal to protect these assets.
Ideally, these tools should be able to apply protections like encryption, data masking, and redaction of sensitive files. They should also be able to automate reporting and meeting requirements.
When properly implemented, robust data security strategies will protect your organization’s information assets against cybercriminal activities, but they also guard against inside threats and human error. In fact, a lot of the technology developed for Data Security is aimed at locating where the most valuable data is stored and how it is used. This makes businesses better at preventing leaks and errors from their own employees.
The Proverbial Brick Wall
In technology, there are 3 fundamental tools when you talk about protection.
- Antivirus Software: Designed specifically to combat certain threats that are commonly known as “computer viruses.” Computer viruses are malignant software that wants to cause some form of damage. They do this by controlling your data, taking over your computer to seize its capacities, or even hijacking it completely. Viruses can physically damage your computer, as it is common for them to make your computer reboot over and over and that can seriously damage your hard drive. Antiviruses are there to protect your computer and can protect your whole internal network. A good example of antivirus is Esset Nod 32.
- Antimalware Software: Malware is an umbrella term for any program or code that can damage systems. Motives can include profiting off you, sabotaging your work, or sending hundreds of ads your way. Malware can steal, encrypt, or delete your data, alter or hijack core computer functions, and spy on your computer activity without your knowledge or permission. A good example of Antimalware Software is MalwareBytes.
- Native firewalls: Whatever your operating system, all of them come with some set of security options. This could be your ‘barrier’ against threats; although it is recommended that you complement native firewalls with the previously discussed antivirus and antimalware software. Examples of Native Firewalls are Windows Defender or Windows Firewall.
These are just the foundations on which you can build your Cybersecurity Plan.
For a complete strategy there are some extra actions you can implement:
- Data encryption: helps you protect your data across your enterprise, cloud, mobile, and big data environments.
- Password management: Make sure you have a password management system and update passwords regularly.
- Payment Security: is fundamental to provide complete point-to-point encryption and tokenization for retail payment transactions.
- Big Data protection: sensitive data can be protected and secure using platforms such as Data Lake (a centralized repository that allows you to store all your structured and unstructured data at any scale.), Hadoop (an open-source distributed processing framework that manages data processing and storage for big data applications in scalable clusters of computer servers), Teradata, and other Big Data platforms.
- Mobile App Security: is also important to protect sensitive data in native mobile apps while safeguarding the data end-to-end.
- Web Browser Security: do not forget to protect sensitive data stored in your browser. From the moment the customer enters financial or personal data, and through the transaction until the trusted host destination is reached.
- Email Security: end-to-end encryption for email and mobile messaging, keeping Personally Identifiable Information and Personal Health Information secure and private.
Our final recommendation: Educate your team in Security
People are the Breaking Point on Security according to TechRepublic. They estimated that 95% of IT security breaches are caused by human error and out of 100 attacks, 95 happened because someone was negligent about a security measure.
The “Human Factor” in IT Security has played a leading role in making businesses vulnerable. Especially in the Insurance Industry, the top three cybersecurity fears are all related to employee behavior.
Training personnel and bringing more dedicated staff on board to help enforce security policies is a logical answer to the problem of employee carelessness.
Raising awareness among employees should be a priority. Furthermore, it is important to motivate them to pay attention to cyberthreats and to take notes about the proper countermeasures.
In conclusion, the right balance should be struck between policy and engagement, to help prevent staff carelessness and digital flaws.
Want More Information on Data Security?
It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!
Attend the Lock-it or Lose it webinar hosted by James Benham, CEO, and Co-founder of SmartCompliance, on April 28th at 2 PM CST. James will share his 10 golden rules for data security and more. It will be worth your time! And if you cannot attend, sign up anyway, we will send the recording to all people who sign up.