Best Practices to Protect your Business from Data Breach
Data Breach is the situation were confidential, private and/or sensitive information is exposed to an unsecured environment/ unauthorized individual accidentally or by means of a deliberate attack on a system/ application/ network/ database. The attacker is enabled by the data breach to view, share, and exfiltrate the exposed information/ files without permission. Nearly 1 billion user records were exposed in the Yahoo breach of 2013-14 and massive financial and reputational costs were borne by the tech giant, making it the biggest data breach of the 21st century.
There have been several such breaches on businesses of all kinds and sizes, thereby, underlining the need for robust web application security. The best practices in doing so will be discussed in this article.
Why are Data Breaches Dangerous?
- As per data from 2019, over 15.1 billion records were exposed through 7098 breaches!
- An average of 206 days was taken to identify breaches and 73 days to contain them in 2019.
- The financial and reputational repercussions to the company are mammoth and can cost USD 3.92 million on an average.
- Even tech giants like Yahoo and Facebook, and big corporations like Equifax, Target, Marriott, etc. are targeted.
- 43% of the breach victims are small businesses.
- 69% of small businesses are forced to shut down within 6 months of a data breach.
- 34% of all breaches are orchestrated by internal actors.
8 Best Practices to Fortify Application Security Against Data Breaches
1. Regular Review of What Data Is/ Isn’t Necessary
When more data is collected and saved, there are greater risks of data breaches and greater requirements for data security. A regular review of what data to collect is necessary. Professional help can be taken to this end. Professional help can be taken to better understand the repercussions of collecting different kinds of data and ways to reduce the risks involved.
2. Discovery and Classification of Sensitive Data
It is not possible to protect data that a business is not aware of. All data, across multiple devices, platforms, and cloud services must be inventoried and categorized as per sensitivity and accessibility. This way, businesses will gain deep insights on and a real-time map of all critical information assets to build effective data protection policies.
3. Regular Monitoring of Data Access, Use, and Storage
Data storage, usage, and access controls need to be regularly tracked and monitored. Knowing how, when, and how data is being accessed and used is critical. Real-time visibility of sensitive information with a higher degree of accuracy is a must. Using these insights, robust security policies can be built, the impact of changes in the environment on security forecasted and hitherto unknown risks identified.
4. Data Encryption
All data that is stored digitally/ online must be encrypted, at rest and during transmission. All company-related emails must be encrypted.
5. Enforcement of Strict Data Policies and Controls
For regulatory compliance, IP protection and heightened data security, the right kind of policies, processes and controls need to be implemented and enforced by the business.
- Strong Access Controls must be enforced including a strong password policy, multi-factor authentication, restrictive permissions, limited privileges, etc.
- Sensitive data must be protected from day-to-day user actions to minimize risks.
- Strict BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) policies must be enforced.
- Internal controls to limit employee fraud is essential. For instance, limiting access to only information required to do their job, system log to monitor what information is accessed by each employee,
- Portable media devices outlets such as USB flash drives, MP3 players, DVDs, CDs, etc. and other electronic devices with hard drives that can sync with computers must be severely limited and closely monitored.
- All data must be destroyed before disposal (digitally and physically).
6. Updating All Software
Important patches are contained in software updates and hence, all software and third-party components used must be updated. If legacy components/ software that are abandoned by the vendor are present on the website/ application, they must be cleaned out.
7. Ongoing Employee Education and Awareness
A heightened sense of urgency with respect to data protection and unsafe behaviors must be instilled among employees through regular training and education. A clear understanding of their role in application security must be provided. For instance, not opening/ installing malware by accident, avoiding and reporting malicious/ fraudulent emails, etc.
8. Intelligent, Managed Application Security Solution
Attacks through which data breaches happen are enabled by vulnerabilities in applications, networks, and systems. To ensure ongoing web application security and proactive protection against data breaches, an intelligent, managed and holistic security solution like AppTrana is a must. It must include regular vulnerability assessments, security audits, and pen-tests, a WAF for proactive protection against attacks, and ongoing support from security experts.
Given that data breaches are a reality for businesses, regardless of the size and nature of the operation, proactive, and strategic measures to protect against them are a must for business continuity. A holistic, intelligent, and managed solution like AppTrana will enable effective and continuous protection against breaches and fortification of web application security.
Learn more about how data protection best practices are implemented by AppTrana.