Data breaches have become a major concern lately – only in the second quarter of 2022, there were 52 million breaches reported. As such, adopting data security measure is of critical importance.
Here’re a few steps individuals and organizations can take to ensure a basic level of security.
1. Create Backups
The most important task to keep your data secure is creating backups, as they’re essential to retrieve any lost data. While individuals can store data on the cloud or encrypted hard drives, businesses should have their IT teams draft up a disaster recovery plan.
2. Move to Cloud Storage
Cloud storage services are safer than legacy systems and traditional data centers. The cloud has a sophisticated architecture with strong built-in security and uses segmented networks to mitigate threats. The system’s multifaceted approach makes it harder to penetrate and take over for hackers.
3. Encrypt Sensitive Data
Encryption is key to protecting your data from breaches. Publicly available tools such as FileVault, TrueCrypt, GPG for Mail, etc, have made encrypting (and decrypting) files child’s play, so you don’t need extensive knowledge to protect your files, emails, and communication channels. Additionally, you should use task management software with better security protocols and encrypted chats as a secondary measure.
4. Install Software Updates
Most software are regularly updated with patches for vulnerabilities and bugs. Outdated software (and unsupportive hardware) carry security flaws that leave you susceptible to privacy breaches. Updating them is crucial to protecting your data, and making sure all the integrations work properly.
5. Use Strong Passwords
This is an obvious one- the stronger the password, the harder it is to crack. Avoid using birth dates, social security numbers, and phrases like “qwerty” or “password”. Don’t write passwords down in unprotected files either, and avoid sharing the same password for multiple logins.
6. Avoid Phishing Emails
Individuals and employees need to get cybersecurity training to spot phishing emails and avoid them. Phishing emails are virus-ridden emails with links or files that can compromise your systems. With AI, these have evolved to mimic real people, but there are many tricks to distinguish them from real emails, such as urgent requests, payment requests, multiple of the same files, etc.
7. Use Secure WiFi Servers
Individuals should only use secure, encrypted WiFi channels to communicate and transfer files. Cybersecurity experts highly discourage sharing data over public networks.
8. Overwrite Deleted Files
Simply deleting information isn’t enough- systems tend to save data for recovery somewhere, which savvy cybercriminals can access. Tools like DBAN and Disk Wipe can overwrite your deleted files to erase them permanently. Besides, once you backup your files elsewhere, don’t just discard the old hard drives. Use software to wipe it, or try disk shredding/magnetic wiping.
9. Restrict User Access
Not every employee needs access to every file. If you’re a medium-sized business, restrict user access to data across departments, so less data is lost if one system is compromised.
10. Install Anti-Virus
Last but not least, install anti-virus software and a firewall on all your devices and keep them updated.