Look at your digital folder. It contains valuable information about your company, employees, clients, projects, and strategic plans. But are your digital assets secure? Have you taken sufficient measures to mitigate cybersecurity risks and protect your confidential data? 

If not, you’re not alone. 

A survey by Comparitech revealed over 33% of digital folders remain unprotected at most companies. Besides, the average data breach cost was estimated at $4.35 million, according to Statista. What is the impact of data loss? Consoltech study indicated that about 70% of small businesses likely close within just one year of a significant data breach. 

So, the question is, how can companies secure their most valuable digital assets? To answer this question, this article presents five best practices for employers to ensure data security and thwart cybersecurity risks. 

Let’s explore. 

An Overview of Data Security 

Data security is the use of various tools, procedures, and technologies to protect a company’s digital assets. It involves data protection against damage, alteration, disclosure, or cybersecurity threats. Besides, companies implement measures to keep their sensitive information safe and confidential. 

Robust data security lays the foundation of corporate excellence. To achieve this goal, employers must implement measures throughout data creation, storage, management, and transfer. These four are the key data security measures for every organization. 

Moreover, real-time monitoring of sensitive and confidential data is also necessary. Managers can promptly identify and react to suspicious activities and proactively thwart potential risks. 

Why is Data Security Important? 

No matter how big your organization is, it stores, processes, and manages data across different departments. You deal with different types of data daily, from employee records, project details, lists of clients, HR policies, critical plans, and future strategies.  

Usually, all this data is stored in the company’s local servers connected to the internet. However, unauthorized users or hackers can access this data unless you have implemented robust cybersecurity measures.  

Imagine if your strategic plans or confidential information goes into the hands of your competitors. The impact of such a data breach would be far-reaching, both in terms of economy and reputation. Hence, as an employer, you cannot afford to risk your company’s sensitive data. It is your responsibility to protect that information at any cost. 

For this purpose, you can take various steps, such as using strong passwords and encrypting data. Besides, comply with data regulations such as GDPR, PCI-DSS, and HIPAA. 

Proactive Approach to Data Security: 5 Best Practices to Consider 

Consider these five best data security practices to secure your digital assets and effectively handle risks associated with cybersecurity threats:

1. Define and Categorize Your Sensitive Data

First, you need to review your existing data and divide it into different categories based on sensitivity. Gaining complete visibility into your data repositories is essential to protect your data and comply with sensitive data regulations. 

There are five parameters of data review. These include sensitivity, location, accessibility, channels, and visibility. Based on your assessment, categorize the data as follows: 

  1. Low-Sensitive Data: You can display or use it publicly, such as websites, social media accounts, and general information about your organization. 
  2. Medium Sensitive Data: This type of data should be used and made accessible within the organization only, such as employee details, projects, strategies, etc. 
  3. Highly Sensitive Data: The third type of data is highly sensitive and used within a limited circle only. It includes future plans, customer information, financial data, and critical project details.

2. Establish Access Control Rules

Inefficient data security, sanitization, and poorly-trained employees are some of the biggest reasons for significant data breaches. Employers, therefore, must not confine themselves to data classification only. Instead, they should establish data access control rules based on staff roles and data sensitivity levels. 

Proper access control and limited access to sensitive data will ensure only relevant persons use confidential data. You can define role-based permissions, such as: 

  • Full Control: Users can get complete ownership of sensitive data, including storage, modification, deletion, permissions, and accessibility. 
  • Modification: Users can modify or edit specific data only without deletion. 
  • Access: Users can only access data but cannot perform any action. 

    3. Build a Cybersecurity Policy

    Building a robust cybersecurity policy is the most crucial aspect of protecting digital assets. In this step, companies can organize all their techniques, strategies, mechanisms, and controls in one comprehensive document. This policy should address your company’s data security needs and comply with international regulations and standards. 

    1. Follow this 5-step strategy to build an all-inclusive cybersecurity policy for your company: 
    2. In the first step, draft your data usage policy explaining the rules all stakeholders should follow when handling your company’s sensitive data. 
    3. Next, implement a risk-based approach to identify all risks and vulnerabilities associated with using critical information at your organization. 
    4. Once you identify essential risks, conduct regular database audits to track all user actions and strengthen data defense.  
    5. Compile a detailed patch management strategy explaining path vulnerabilities in your organization’s digital infrastructure and document all your actions. 
    6. Finally, continuously monitor user activity, check which devices they are using to access sensitive data, and take prompt actions if you observe any red flags

    4. Use Data Encryption

    Sensitive data is always at risk, whether in transit or transferred online. Even if it is stored in the public or private cloud, it is not far from the reach of cybercriminals or hackers.  

    It is highly advisable to encrypt your data in transit, authenticate the endpoints, and decrypt after verifying its destination. You can use TLS 1.2 protocol or HTTPS for data encryption. Similarly, employ security access policies to protect sensitive data stored in your database.  

    Ensure your user base is separated from your digital assets when using web applications, and encrypt the entire database containing user data. Conversely, use online cloud solutions to back up sensitive data and protect digital assets.

    5. Train Your Employees

    Your employees are the front-end warriors in your battle against cybercriminals, hackers, and unauthorized users. You must equip them with the necessary tools, training, and equipment to effectively handle internal and external threats. Once they’re prepared, you will see a lot of improvement. 

    Hence, educate your employees about cybersecurity threats to their digital assets. Provide them with advanced training to actively respond to data breaches and prevent unauthorized persons from accessing your database.  

    Some of the suggestions include: 

    1. Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) on all your internal systems 
    2. Ask your employees to use strong passwords (Teach them how to make their passwords unique and difficult to detect) 
    3. Follow a clean desktop policy and use sensitive data in a cloud server instead of a local computer 
    4. Take extreme care when sharing information online, particularly confidential information about your clients, employees, or projects. 
    5. Train your workforce to handle phishing scams and safe use of emails.  
    6. Appoint a cybersecurity manager to handle employee complaints and mitigate potential risks professionally. 

    Final Words 

    The corporate world is gradually moving towards digitization. The adoption of cloud computing and digital resources has seen a paradigm shift in the post-pandemic era. This new trend presents new opportunities for growth and development for businesses. At the same time, it also poses new threats to digital assets. 

    If you want your company to succeed in today’s digital landscape, you must protect sensitive data and confidential information. For this purpose, robust cybersecurity measures are needed to thwart potential risks.  

    Start by defining and categorizing sensitive data and establishing role-based access control rules. Similarly, build a comprehensive cybersecurity policy and use data encryption techniques. Finally, provide training to your workforce on handling internal and external threats.