7 ways to prepare for a data breach

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Data security should be a top priority for all companies. Follow the simple tips below to maintain the trust and data of your clients

As hackers and malware become more and more advanced, greater importance must be placed on data security. Whether you’re the security expert of a finance company, hospital or online retailer, at some point you will have to deal with an attempted data breach, and it’s your job to be ready when it happens.

A breach in data is a disaster for any institution, destroying the trust of customers and clients, and potentially costing thousands, if not millions in reparations. That is why your online security needs to be completely impenetrable. The simple tips below, courtesy of Syntax, will help you plan for, and cope with, any malware or hacker that comes your way, so you can conduct your business free from worry.

Risk Assessment

The first step to creating a secure network is to identify vulnerabilities. Be aware of where your most sensitive data is kept, who has access to it, and what hardware and software you use to transfer it. Your three biggest assets are your employees, your data and your IT systems, but these can quickly become your biggest threats if not kept up to speed. Keep your staff happy and well trained, chart where sensitive data flows and with whom it’s being shared, and keep a constant eye on your system’s patch and configuration status.

Response Plan

If the worst happens and you experience a data breach, you need to be ready to act fast and decisively, in order to contain the damage. You must have a developed, documented and well-drilled plan of action clearly defined for all types of threat – from small-scale viruses to full-on network compromise – so that your staff will know immediately what needs to be done. Make sure to test this plan regularly.

Team Building

A well-trained computer incident response team (CIRT) is a huge asset for any company that holds sensitive data. Every member of this team should have specific responsibilities, from vulnerability assessment to incident handling. They should also communicate regularly with other departments, such as legal, HR and public relations, especially following a breach.

Incident Detection

Detecting a potential breach early on can make the difference between a minor inconvenience and complete catastrophe. Be proactive by regularly scanning endpoints across your network for any unusual activity that might signal a potential threat.

Partner Up

Most small and mid-size companies don’t have in-house IT specialists who are equipped to deal with large scale security threats from sophisticated hackers and malware. That is why partnering up with external IT specialists for more advanced issues; specialists who will perform regular scans and updates on your systems, and alert you of any suspicious activity early on, is a highly effective way of shielding yourself from attack.

Attack Simulation

Another benefit that comes with partnering up with an external IT company is the ability to orchestrate real-time attack simulation exercises. This enables you to see where the gaps are in your online security, how susceptible your staff are to common hacker tactics – such as phishing – and your own response to a potential data breach. You can then better prepare yourself for the real thing, having gained some useful experience.

Study the Enemy

Studying various types of malware and the latest hacker tactics will arm you and your staff with knowledge that could prove invaluable in the event of an attack. Organise courses for your employees to make them aware of common threats, like phishing techniques and how to tell illegitimate administration tools from the real thing. This will help you and them become more proactive in the fight against hackers, instead of merely becoming a victim.