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Ensuring data is protected and secured is a given, but actually doing so can be a daunting challenge. As cyberattacks and data breaches become more sophisticated and advanced, how can you ensure you have the right practices in place?

In this article, we’ll go over some of the best actions you can take to ensure a more resilient data security.

Why data security is important

With companies experiencing highly damaging data breaches, data security has never been more important. Just last year, the average number of cases like these is up by 15.1% compared to 2020.

Regardless of the makeup of your organization, you’re dealing with large quantities of sensitive information. Organizations have legal and moral obligations on how they manage this data. There’s also the cost of dealing with the damage; a data breach can now cost businesses an average of $4.35 million. And after all that loss, there’s the reputational damage, too. When big data breaches are publicized, clients and partners lose trust, and they may reconsider their ties with your company.

With so much at stake, not taking data security seriously is detrimental to the business.

9 data security best practices you should follow

So, what can you do to protect your organization from becoming the next victim? Here’s our data security best practices checklist for your business.

1. Define and catalog your sensitive data

How can you protect something if you don’t know what you should be protecting? When strategizing your data security, you need to define what types of data you have and catalog them accordingly. Which ones are the most important; where are they stored; how are they managed? These are questions you should first answer and get your sensitive data organized as a result.

But this process shouldn’t be rigid. As you gain or dispose of data, you should continuously define and redefine these data types, to reflect the organization’s needs when it comes to managing this information.

2. Establish data usage and retention policies

Policies play a crucial role in effective data security. Establish what data is collected and why, where and how it’s used, how and when it’s retained, who has access to this information, and how they’re disposed of.

Having these activities laid out prevents confusion about what happens with data in your organization, ensuring that data isn’t forgotten or misplaced – which can often leave your business vulnerable to cyberattacks. Any data that falls out of the scope of these policies shouldn’t be kept as you could jeopardize regulatory compliance efforts.

3. Regulate access to data

Not controlling access to data is like giving a house key to everyone in your neighborhood. Access to sensitive information should be given through the principle of least privilege. Only provide the minimum access required for the individual to perform their responsibilities.

With this kind of approach, you’re able to effectively regulate data access without impeding others’ work.

4. Use physical data safeguarding methods

As cyberattacks become more elaborate, it can be easy to get wrapped up in thinking of the most complex data security measures. But sometimes a breach can happen from something as simple and obvious as leaving your work laptop unattended for a minute in a public space.

Securing physical components such as laptops, mobiles, and hard drives shouldn’t be overlooked, such as putting your work devices in locked storage when not in use. Caution against suspicious USB drives and other unknown hardware should also be second nature to everyone in the organization as well.

5. Secure endpoint systems

Your network’s endpoints are the most likely places for cyber attackers to probe for vulnerabilities, so it’s important to strengthen security here. You should regularly monitor the health of these systems and look out for irregularities.

Implementing antivirus, antispyware, pop-up blockers, and firewalls are just some of the more common measures you can take to secure your endpoint systems.

6. Back up data regularly

Data loss is extremely damaging to the business. Backups should be included in any data security strategy. Should a breach occur that causes data loss, having backups ready can help you get your systems back online as quickly as possible.

You can never know when data loss can happen, so backups should be regularly practiced. And like other data security measures, how to do this should be properly outlined, defining details such as what data is backed up, where backups are kept, and how often it’s carried out.

7. Train employees on cybersecurity

One of the most common causes of data breaches is human error. Many mistakes like this aren’t done out of malice though but can be attributed to a lack of awareness or information.

As the cybersecurity threat landscape continues to evolve, staying up to date with what’s going on is paramount to protecting your organization. Regularly provide new training to employees regarding these new developments. This will help ensure everyone has a thorough understanding of their responsibilities towards data security, how to secure their work assets, and protect themselves from social engineering attempts.

8. Beware of third-party-related risks

It’s not just your own systems you need to take care of. Your third-party suppliers and systems need to be vetted as part of your data security strategy. This is even more integral as their systems can also fall prey to hackers.

How often do they update their products or perform security patches? How do they respond to incidents? Make sure you carry out your due diligence, which includes understanding who controls and processes your data, and how they maintain data security standards.

9. Leverage integrated ITSM-ITAM tools to combat security breaches

Many organizations probably already have capable ITSM and ITAM tools, but quite often they work independently from each other. While they may work perfectly fine by themselves, this disjointed approach can make it difficult to oversee processes as a whole and quickly spot vulnerabilities.

But by taking advantage of integrated ITSM-ITAM solutions, you can get clear visibility of all your assets, while also ensuring effective performance monitoring. These tools help consolidate your processes into one, providing a single source of truth. With this capability, your IT security team can quickly fix weaknesses, communicate key information efficiently, and combat security breaches.

Bulletproof your data with IFS assyst

Data security can’t prevent all threats but setting up the right measures can greatly reduce some of these risks. IFS assyst’s integrated ITSM and ITAM solution makes it easier for you to plan, execute, and maintain your data security strategy. With the ability to visualize your complete asset data, along with powerful automation tools, IFS assyst takes the stress out of IT management.

If you’d like to learn more, why not get in touch to discover how we can assyst your data security?

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