Data Security: 15 Approaches to Safeguard Your Business

Providing solid data security to your business is a complex process. It includes protection from start to end, but without it, your company may not last long. It is a common mistake for SMEs to think they aren’t in danger compared to large enterprises. They often skip or minimize data security technologies trying to save time or money, making excuses like “there is not much to steal.”

Data Security 15 Approaches to Safeguard Your Business

But when you see that 4,2 billion dollars lost by cause of cybercrime, think of figuring out how data protection solutions may protect your company from financial abuse. The thing is that 71% of cybercrimes are financially motivated.

Information can leak from anywhere – over the web, inside consumers’ systems, at the office. So you have to think ahead to put in place first-class data privacy solutions and consider this process as one of the most essential in your business.

Possible damages sound dramatic, but we know how to save the day. In this article, OpenGeeksLab distills main points of interest for your company’s advanced data security. Dive in.

Painful Consequences of Data Security Breach

Results of neglecting data security solutions are widespread.

While discovering cyber threats, you should be aware of their reasons for securing your data and how possible fallouts may influence your business at large. Thinking that the main damages are financial is not entirely correct. Let us uncover all of them.

1. Your Customers Are Leaving You

Firstly, data security solutions are essential for keeping your consumers and partners, since cybersecurity negligence may cause a significant headache to them. It starts with anxiety about their data exposure, identity theft, money losses, or credit card fraud. Also, secret data exposure may steal an organization’s time for resolving issues like canceling credit cards, changing account security methods, and others.

In 2020 Warner Music Group went through a significant three-month-lasting hacker attack. Exposed data included personal information such as name, billing and shipping address, mobile number, and payment card details (card number, CVC/CVV, and expiration date). Cybercriminals could use this information for fraud purchases or further phishing attacks. The numbers of hacked accounts remain unknown. Aims of digital skimming were the WMG’s e-commerce websites so these data security system loopholes could appear during checkouts. To compensate for issues, a famous recording company provided affected clients with free of charge 12 month Kroll identity monitoring.

Additionally, while you are dealing with attackers often you must put your business on pause. So the least you lose is time, but the bigger problem is if your customers get disappointed and leave.

2. Your Reputation is Damaged

Assuming that large businesses fallouts are widely publicized, SMEs get no less of a trouble. Social media or specific industry journals can spotlight your business data security failure. Also, email hacks can cause major loss of intellectual property, personal information, and your success recipes, which competitors can use against you. Or hackers may use your unreleased products, whereas you will have to start developing new ideas, which take time.

For this matter, we can remember LinkedIn’s massive 700 million accounts data leakage in 2021 when a hacker used the company’s API to scrape the information and then exposed it in the darknet. LinkedIn has proven that this information was not qualified as a data breach but a violation of their terms of service. Nevertheless, these hacker’s samples contained addresses, geolocation, gender, phone number, and other social media details.

The main trouble is that these damages may stay undetected for a long time.

3. You Lost Money

In 2019 Mariott International had to pay an almost 24 million dollars fine for a 500 million accounts breach. Exposed confidential data was including passport numbers and payment info. Although the company paid a fine, they didn’t admit their responsibility of neglecting customer data security. Similarly, in 2019 Capital One bank suffered a 106 million accounts breach through an unguarded configuration of a company’s web app firewall. This leakage led to an 80 million dollars fine.

As you see, developing a high-level business data security is a must-have for a company of any size, with the only difference being that SMEs’ failures won’t be on national news. With this in mind, let’s move on to a short overview of current tendencies in the cybersecurity market.

Corporate Data Security Market and Trends

Trends in data protection change according to a digital landscape.

Due to the COVID-19 impact, consumers and providers experience a significant change in the digital landscape. As risks of cyber threats grow, the companies’ IT data security strategies significantly change, increasing demand in the cybersecurity market.

During a pandemic in 2020 small businesses and start-ups suffered temporary or permanent shutdowns, which reached up to 43% in the US, as reported by Fortune Business Insights. Even though that could lead to a decrease in data security companies, market spendings growth reaches up to 60 billion USD in 2021 compared to 54 billion USD in 2020 and 40 billion USD in 2019.

It can result from increasing technologies variety in telecom, manufacturing, retail, and banking that provide large amounts of sensitive data. These information units must be assimilated, processed, and stored across digital interfaces that provide cybercriminals with many avenues to access nets.

Recent cybersecurity trends are tightly connected to emerging digital tendencies at large, such as machine learning, IoT, and cloud computing.

For example, cloud computing grew 13,7% in 2020 compared to 2017-2019. Moreover, the US Government invested around 6 billion dollars for implementing cloud solutions and their further support.

Further adoption of neural network and IoT signature-less data protection and security solutions help key players in the cybersecurity market identify uncertain activities or trials and detect threats.

Key players like IBM, Cisco, Palo Alto Networks, and others exploit cloud computing and big data technologies to support enterprises in the data security ecosystem by researching or analyzing potential risks. Currently, Cisco takes around 10% of all cybersecurity market, followed by Palo Alto Networks with 8% and Fortinet around 6%.

Remember, digital transformations challenge tech specialists to provide solid testing to applications on all stages – from planning to launching. You should ensure data security since it is the backbone of the business protection infrastructure, and its popularity is increasing with the growth of application adoption across businesses. Thus, trends of cybersecurity growth are expected to continue over the years.

Figuring Out Databases and Data Technologies

There are three main database types and different options for using them.

Over the last decades, the significance of databases is increasing. Digital life you got used to would stop existing without them, so understanding how they work and how to use them is crucial. Let’s take a closer look at databases from different perspectives.

Relational Databases (SQL)

Structured Query Language (SQL) is the most frequently used language to connect with databases. This language grants sending requests to servers in real-time, making it flexible on the one hand but vulnerable to cyberattacks and difficult for scaling.

Don’t mix up SQL Server Microsoft’s database solution and SQL language. This product uses SQL too, as most databases do, just it is not the same.

A while before, database structures were connecting end-users through applications straight to the data. So, to protect sensitive data in a private network, there should be only physical security.

But now, we have more options, so businesses select one of the methods below to enhance the security and performance of databases:

  • In the single-tiered method, apps and databases exist in one structure. A user must sign on to a terminal and perform a dedicated app that connects the data. It is natural for desktop systems to run an autonomic database.
  • In the two-tiered method, the consumer’s facility operates an app connected to a database running on a different server. It is helpful for many applications thus quite popular.
  • The three-tiered method includes a middle-tier server that efficiently isolates the end-user from the database. This middle server gets consumer queries, classifies them, and then sends them to a database server for further operations. A server transmits data back to the middle server on the database side, which sends it to the user’s system. Today this method becomes popular because the third-tier server can control database access thus additionally protect data.

You can employ each of these cases for a particular company’s needs.

Nonrelational Database (NoSQL)

As far as you know, most profit-making relational database management solutions (Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, PostGres, and others) adopt SQL. We call NoSQL a database type that is nonrelational/distributed and doesn’t use SQL.

The benefit of NoSQL is that it can handle massive volumes of unstructured, semi-structured, or structured data. This concept is less common and relatively new, but its schema type is dynamic that can be handy in many cases, whereas SQL schema type is pre-defined. Still, the SQL database is widely supported and easy to configure for structured data.

Additionally, if you work on scaling, NoSQL has a significant difference from SQL. The first one has a horizontal model, so you need to add more servers, and the second one is vertical to upgrade the server.

Regarding data security technology, NoSQL cannot be affected by SQL injection attacks but is susceptible to similar ones.

Object-Oriented Database (OOD)

An object-oriented database (OOD) is a database method that can operate complex data objects that reflect those used in object-oriented programming languages. In this type of programming, all things are objects, and many of them are pretty tricky, having various features and purposes.

OODs enable integrating databases, spreadsheets, operating systems, languages, AI systems, and other objects or applications. The object-oriented database allows referential products and apps sharing due to inheritance and object identity.

On the one hand, you can save complex data sets and retrieve them fast and easily. Also, it is a good thing that OOD assigns object IDs automatically. On the other hand, its high complexity sometimes causes performance problems. Also, object databases are not widely adopted.

Coping with storing and managing data requires a deep understanding of your business needs. Enterprise data security becomes complex without knowing trends of digital protection or database functioning, leading to unnecessary spending and losses for you.

Apart from providing you with the theory of how databases work, which is crucial for making decisions, we have come to the central part of the article, providing you with superior approaches for data protection.

Top 15 Methods that Ensure First-Class Data Security

Approaches for developing first-class data security depend on your business needs.

Whether your data is relational or nonrelational, you should correctly store it and highly protect it. So now we came to breaking down the main security approaches in data encryption solutions.

1. Analyze and Label Sensitive Data

Before implementing data protection, you should identify what types of data you have. You can do it by data discovery solutions that will skim your storage and make a report. Further, you need to classify the data.

You should clearly label all sensitive data with a digital signature that denotes its classification. It is crucial for protecting this data according to its value. You can update the data category as you modify it.

Look at this variety of tools. They will help you make data discovery or classification more accurate. Also, they are handy in controlling access to necessary information that reduces the risk of unauthorized exposure which is crucial for data security and data privacy.

2. Implement a Risk Assessment Approach

This method is based on a systematic data security assessment of your organization’s highest and lowest risks.

Firstly, you identify top data security and compliance threats, making them a priority to control and reduce. Once it is done, you continue with the lower risks.

Every business has its weak points, so this approach helps tailor your specific vulnerabilities to strengthen your cybersecurity program. Carefully identify your valuable resources and possible threats so you can increase your data protection.

3. Boost Employee Alertness

The key to strengthening your data security measures is educating your employees on why safety matters so you can make them a part of your defense program.

Firstly, provide your staff members with how cyber risks affect the bottom line and what kind of threats your company may face. Explain to them why specific digital protection measures are crucial for your organization. Give examples of security breaches in other companies with analyzing consequences and difficulties in reducing them.

Make the educational process interactive and discuss with employees the current security program in your company.

Training your employees is a significant step in avoiding data breaches. Consider information about free education for staff members as it is practiced, for instance, in the US or UK.

Note that malicious staff is not the only insider threat. Often benevolent workers provide cybercriminals with ways to penetrate your system without noticing it.

Usually, it happens through emails or phone calls. To prevent it, you should adequately configure your spam filters, ensuring obvious spam is permanently blocked. Also, train your employees about recent popular phishing schemes and how they can avoid it.

4. Use the Principle of Least Privilege

Perform the principle of least privilege (POLP) in your company. Give access to users according to their intended functions, not by default. Providing employees with access to sensitive data they don’t need increases the chances of insider threats, so update key levels as soon as they are required.

This ongoing process can be time-consuming, especially if your company is significant. Still, recently on the market, you can find appropriate access management solutions to make it easier for you.

Remember that it is dangerous to have many users with high privileges.

5. Manage Physical Access

Managing physical access in your network is a vital part of your company’s data security system. Beware to lock down each workstation to protect the hard drives or other sensitive components that store data.

Pay special attention to the following:

  • Use full-disk encryption on each laptop in your company since loss or theft can enable third-party access to the data on the hard drive. Avoid using public wi-fi or use it with secure communications such as SSH or a VPN.
  • Control mobile devices, and scan them for viruses. They can carry different kinds of malware in your network and derive data from your servers. It is crucial to focus on the data, not the form of devices it kept on.
  • For protecting an organization’s network, segregate it into logical or functional units called zones. This method is time-consuming for attackers and makes it difficult to penetrate a whole system at once because it divides one target into many. When a malicious user jumps from one segment to another, it is easier to expose them. Carefully restrict network traffic between zones.
  • Secure your workspace area, don’t leave docs on your desks, check desk drawers, and windows. Forget about sharing lock codes, ID cards, or access keys. Protect the company’s equipment and lock up hard copies of sensitive data or destroy it if a company doesn’t need them.
  • To keep an eye on your facilities, use video surveillance in your company. It helps spot unauthorized access to your archives, servers, or any other zone containing confidential data.

It would be great if you use all these methods to define and restrict access to office premises.

6. Administrative Permissions System

All employees must follow a policy that controls administrative access by listing specific rules. A person who creates this policy needs to have expertise in business objectives and applicable compliance regulations.

It is essential to build a supervisory structure of responsibilities where managers get accountable for their staff’s violations. Thus they have to train users according to the company’s policy.

Remember to work with HR department to develop a compelling user termination procedure that protects your organization legally and technically from former employees.

7. Develop Technical Access Control

Another way to protect data is to forbid storing or copying critical information locally, at least in most cases. Users should ideally never store sensitive data on a portable system of any kind. They should work with data remotely, and after each session, the client and server cache should be cleaned. All structures should demand a login and have requirements set to secure the system.

Design your permissions’ structure according to the principle of least privileges. Data permissions can include complete control, editing, reading without making modifications or other options.

Create an access control list (ACL) that classifies who can enter what resource and at what level. It can be an inner part of a running system or application, including allowlists or blocklists. These lists contain items, such as websites or software that users can or can’t use.

Additionally, utilize the most common security devices and systems that can help you restrict access to data.

  • A firewall is a crucial restriction that classifies and filters incoming and outgoing traffic based on an organization’s previously established security policies.
  • Data loss prevention (DLP) monitors users transmitting or working with data and spots suspicious activity to prevent data misuse. It controls workstations, servers, and networks so no one can copy, delete, or move sensitive data.
  • Network access control (NAC) includes setting network resources to endpoint agents according to your security policy.
  • Proxy server evaluates queries sent to your network and then allows or blocks the request. Companies often use it to filter traffic as devices can restrict access to your sensitive data from the Internet.

To make things right, you should use all these methods to strengthen your company’s security.

8. Software and Hardware Data Encryption

Data encryption is a must for modern companies, and you need data protection if it is at rest or in transit. Information can be secured by portable devices or over the network using software or hardware encryption.

In the case of software, it optimizes the transit of your data and keeps your file contents protected. These tools frequently use the user’s password as the encryption key.

For example, one of such basic data security products is Encrypting File System (EFS) for Windows. This tool allows authorized users to see encrypted files, but it shows errors and denies access if the user is unauthorized, even if a hacker has complete control over the device.

Hardware encryption uses a computer’s tools to support or sometimes replace the software in the protection process. Some of these implementations are faster and less likely to be exploited.

One of such tools is Trusted Platform Module (TPM) which enables encrypting functions and monitoring the system’s trail. You can enable or disable this tool in the advanced configuration settings of some BIOS menus.

9. Multi-Factor Authentication and Biometric Security

MFA works by adding an extra layer to your protection program. If hackers had your password, they would lack your phone, security token, voice, fingerprint, or any other authentication factors you added.

For example, data security experts from the National Cyber Security Alliance included multi-factor authentication (MFA) in its safety awareness and education campaign, proving that this fundamental tool is still highly effective in data security services.

Note that biometrics grants safe and fast access and confirmation. So, they are becoming an essential part of multi-factor authentication and protection of data at large.

Using your biometrics as a key is a higher level of security than a password or SMS verification, and recently it drastically changes enterprise protection. These data security solutions can scan and analyze your voice, fingerprint, palms, or facial patterns.

Moreover, this solution allows security specs to monitor and detect abnormal behaviors of highly privileged users. If such an account is compromised, the tool immediately sends a notification to the security agent.

10. Data Back-Up

Backing up a company’s data is a lifesaver in case of ransomware activity or server failure, so you should always duplicate significant company assets. Periodic archiving saves your time if you need to recover lost or corrupted information.

Another point with backups is that they must be encrypted, carefully protected, and often updated. Split control over archives amongst few people to avoid insider threats.

For instance, experts from the US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) provide us with different backup options. Also, they suggest following the 3-2-1 rule. It includes:

3 – have three copies of any critical file: one original and two archived.

2 – save the files on two various media types to guard against various sorts of risks.

1 – store one duplicate outside of the business facility.

Besides those, there are three types of backup that you need to know.

A full backup is the most reliable approach. However, it can be time-consuming or require many resources, which may impact a server’s performance. To help with that, you can run differential backups a few times per day after a full backup in the morning. They are smaller but still can impact your servers’ work.

Another option is an incremental backup which is small, doesn’t take much time or resources. However, it is more complex to restore. You will need to recover each small incremental backup since full backup and recovery must be done in the correct order.

Whatever backup plan you prefer, remember to test it regularly. Considering that all of these types are useful, you have to choose a preferable backup option for your business needs.

11. Server RAID Tool

A redundant array of independent disks (RAID) keeps the data on multiple hard disks or SSDs which grants non-stop performance of your network. There are different levels of functioning:

  • RAID 0 (striped disks) spreads data across multiple disks providing upgraded speed for performance, but it does not offer any error tolerance. At this level, you need a minimum of two discs.
  • RAID 1 introduces error tolerance because it reflects the contents of the disks. So, there is an identical so-called “mirrored” disk for every operational disk in the system. Here you need at least two disks to separate them into 50/50 parts for data and the “mirror.”
  • RAID 3 or 4 (striped disks with dedicated parity) requires three or more disks with the data spread across the disks.
  • RAID 5 (striped disks with shared parity) involves three or more disks in a way that guards data against the loss of any one disk. It is similar to RAID 3, but the parity is distributed across the drive array.
  • RAID 6 (striped disks with double parity) unites four or more disks and does the same as RAID 5 but guards two disks’ data by adding an extra parity block in RAID 5.
  • RAID 1+0 (or 10) provides a reflected data set (RAID 1), which is then striped (RAID 0). Consider it as a “stripe of mirrors.” A RAID 1+0 needs at least four drives.
  • RAID 0+1 is the reverse of RAID 1+0 with where stripes are mirrored.

These tools help secure data in the case of drive failures such as damage and system downtime so your network can proceed with its operations.

12. IoT Devices and Network Security

With the rising popularity of IoT, these devices have become an easy target for cybercriminals. Analysts report that 57% of all IoT devices are in danger of medium or heavy cyberattacks. IoT units have access to critical information, and at the same time, they lack security updates, leaving devices vulnerable to common malware threats. A hacked printer, for example, can provide hackers with all information you have printed or scanned.

So, to ensure proper security level to such devices in your corporate network, follow the advice below:

  • Use an up-to-date router with an enabled firewall
  • Ensure that all connections to endpoints are trusted and went through proper authentication
  • Encrypt data in transit and rest. Use end-to-end encryption
  • Avoid using common passwords by default
  • Provide data security solutions to your endpoints. Implement a scalable protection framework to support your IoT network
  • Remember to make penetration tests, so you can be aware of the threats and, thus, plan your protection strategy

Safety cameras, doorbells, printers, intelligent door locks, and other office equipment’s small parts are potential weak points in your company’s data privacy.

13. Run Enterprise Patch Management

Keeping all your software up to date cannot be easy if your network is extensive, but it is necessary for your company’s security solutions. A proper patch management policy requires specific steps:

  • Scanning devices for software updates
  • Downloading them when they become available
  • Installing patches where necessary
  • Testing the effect of these updates

Applying patches on time is a good strategy, but don’t rush to deploy the patches until you thoroughly test them to ensure they didn’t affect the system’s functionality.

Proper functioning of your IT environment includes a patching policy for your operating systems and your applications.

If we talk about OS patches, then we commonly split them into three levels: hotfix, patch, and service pack.

  • A hotfix is not an optional patch but an urgent installation usually connected to security or functioning issues. You must apply them immediately.
  • A patch can be an optional or non-urgent update and is usually connected to some extra functions.
  • A service pack is the kit of updates or hotfixes that always have to be applied. But to make sure they don’t harm your system, you must test them first.

Additionally, you need to keep an eye on applications’, so if the provider discovers a security problem and makes a patch release, it is better to install it soon. Often, attackers recognize a specific app security loophole and take advantage of it. For that reason, regularly maintain testing and installation of patches.

14. VAPT

Vulnerability assessments and cybersecurity penetration tests (VAPT) are one of the types of data security testing that identify and help find cyber security vulnerabilities. It can support multiple separate services or a single, consolidated offering.

Vulnerability assessments are typically a set of port scanners and vulnerability scanning tools like OpenVas, Nmap, and Nessus. Such tools run on an external device and scan your network for open ports. As a result, they show patch levels or version numbers of services that are expected to be on the endpoint systems.

Additionally, to reveal your company’s network vulnerabilities run penetration testing that, compared to other test types, also measures your staff’s knowledge and your cyber security policy as a whole.

Look at the pen-testing options below:

  • A targeted pen-testing includes a company’s IT team that acts together with external specialists to discover the weaknesses of the company’s network.
  • External pen-testing discovers whether external attackers can access your system and, if they can, how deep they may get into it. It is performed by remotely accessing your organization’s visible computers, Internet-enabled devices, website hosting, firewalls, together with web, email, and domain name servers.
  • Internal pen-testing shows how harmful a regular employee can be. The system sees this kind of test as an insider attack by an authorized user with general access privileges.
  • Blind pen-testing strategy imitates an actual cyber-criminal. Testers start their work with a piece of limited information such as company name and website.
  • Double-blind testing is an advanced version of a blind test. The main trick is to keep this protection check a secret and tell very few people about it.
  • Black box pen-testing is very similar to blind testing with testers having no information. So they must find their way into the system.
  • In white box pen-testing, fake attackers get information about the target network and then start their work.

VAPT is an effective method to detect security defects within any part of your IT environment. So, remember to collectively apply vulnerability assessment and penetration testing for excellent results.

15. Control Third-Party Access to Your Data

By monitoring remote connections, you lower the risk of insider attacks and close the way for cybercriminals. A list of people or companies accessing your data includes outsourcing staff, business partners, merchants, suppliers, subcontractors, and more.

Consider the rules below for your company’s data security policy:

  • Limit an access range for third-party users
  • Constantly monitor who exactly enters your system and why
  • Create one-time passwords for significant endpoints
  • Implement activity reports and real-time alerts in case of abnormal actions
  • Use identity verification for third parties by requiring multi-factor authentication
  • In essential parts of your network, you can set up access request and approval workflow

Tracking third-party access is a great way to protect your sensitive information from breaches or malicious activity.

How OpenGeeksLab Can Assist You in Managing First-Class Cybersecurity Strategy

As it goes above, it is crucial to keep an eye on the latest IT environment tools, create and use policy management, train your employees, control any types of access to your network, and many more essentials.

Yep, there is a bunch of points in data protection, and, of course, you can deal with these complex actions on your own. But in order to achieve advanced data security, partnering with a software vendor is a must. After all, reputable data security companies, that is OpenGeeksLab, will deliver tested through the years data security strategies. Contact us to get end-to-end software engineering solutions!

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