In light of the recent data security incidents, how can you best protect your business from a data breach?

Operating a business without adequate cyber security is a risky proposition that will leave you open to catastrophic data breaches. All sizes of businesses across varied industries are at risk. Something that was made evident by the massive data breach of British Airways. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) stated that the personal data and credit card information of 500,000 customers was stolen. This resulted in the company being handed a fine of £183m, the largest fine ever imposed under the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules. This fine equates to 1.5% of British Airways’ worldwide turnover, the maximum penalty being 4%.

What does this mean for smaller businesses?

SMEs are just as vulnerable to data breaches. Without adequate IT security, there is a high risk of damage to customer data, intellectual property, profits and reputation. If a large breach occurred within a smaller organisation it could cripple them to the point of putting them out of business. This is especially true if a GDPR fine were to be imposed. The good news is that there are multiple, cost-effective security measures to protect your business from a data breach.

Employee awareness

Many successful data breaches occur by accident through careless human error. Cybercriminals are aware of this and use it to their advantage. Threats come in the form of carefully designed emails that look legitimate but are in fact phishing emails designed to penetrate networks and syphon data. One wrong click on an infected email could put your entire network at risk. A business can combat this by security training employees in protecting company data. This can be achieved by regular staff training on how to identify malicious communications, how to generate strong passwords and deploying two-factor identification on all devices and applications.

Restrictive permission policy

Cybercriminals view employees as the path of least resistance. Many data breaches occur through internal employee weaknesses and are not sophisticated cyber-attacks. To help minimise business risk, deploy a restrictive permission policy. This will control who has access to company data by role-based access permissions. Ensuring that only authorised employees have access to vital data sources necessary to their roles will significantly reduce the risk of a data breach.

Pro-active threat monitoring

It is vital that a company network is monitored at all times. Pro-active remote monitoring provides 24/7 cover, identifying any suspicious activity immediately. If a potential issue arises, it can be resolved automatically by system security measures or escalated to be dealt with by a managed security services provider (MSSP).

Data backup & recovery

What would happen to company data in the event of a server crash, power outage or a cyber-attack? Data backup is vital if a business wants to ensure data continuity and protection. This can be achieved by hosting data on backup servers, which are regularly updated on an automated system. This will give peace of mind that an up-to-date version of company data is safely stored in the event of a security incident.

Outsource to a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP)

The requirement to protect your business from a data breach should be a priority from the outset. Unfortunately, identifying and implementing the correct level of IT security, and effectively managing it isn’t always a straightforward process. This is especially true for smaller businesses. To ensure optimal security and data protection, consideration should be applied to outsourcing cyber security and IT support requirements to a Managed Service Provider (MSP). This can be a more cost-effective and security-focused route to ensuring company data is protected with the added peace of mind that experts are monitoring your assets.