How to Prevent Data Breach in Your Company? – A CEO Guide

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Many CEOs still believe that data breaches only happen to other companies. This mindset can lead to complacency, leaving your organization vulnerable to cyber-attacks. In today’s world, every business, regardless of size or industry, is at risk of a data breach.

In Q3 of 2022, almost 109M accounts were breached, and the breach rates have increased by over 70% over the previous quarter.

With the alarming numbers, the one question to find answers to is how to prevent a data breach in the company.

Here is a CEO guide on what goes wrong in dealing with data breaches and how to address these issues.

How does a Data Breach Affect your Business?

Data breaches have become increasingly common in recent years and can have serious consequences for organizations. 

Target had to pay an 18.5 million dollar settlement after hackers stole about 40 million credit/debit card details and 70 million personal records of their customers. The estimated cost for the company was around 200 million dollars. 

The Microsoft data leak, BlueBleed, is one of the most recent data breaches where a minute human error exposed data of 65000+ businesses across 111 countries. More than 2.4 Terabytes of sensitive business data and PII have been publicly listed because of a misconfiguration. 

A data breach can have a significant impact on a business, including the following:

Financial Loss: 

A data breach can result in significant financial losses for a business. This can include costs associated with investigating the breach, notifying affected customers, and potential legal fees.

  • Reputational Damage: A data breach can damage a business’s reputation. If sensitive customer or employee data is compromised, it can erode customer and stakeholders’ trust in the business. This can result in a loss of current and potential customers.
  • Legal Consequences:  Depending on the nature and severity of the breach, a business may face lawsuits, fines, or regulatory action. This can be costly and time-consuming to deal with and can further damage the business’s reputation.
  • Operational Disruption: A data breach can also cause significant operational disruption. For example, if the business’s website or other systems are compromised, it may need to be shut down or undergo significant maintenance and repairs. This can result in lost productivity and revenue.

Methods and Causes of Data Breaches

A data breach is a planned cyberattack instead of a data leak where it’s an open end of data being manipulated. Data breaches are categorized into the following:

Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks objectively influence control and trick users into revealing information. They objectively influence, control, and trick users into revealing information. The social engineering attacks often come down to people trying to help and trusting without knowing the person on the other side. 

  • Advanced Persistent Threats (APT)

A cyberattack is orchestrated by a silent actor that keeps taking information from the host. It is an attack campaign that aims to establish a long-term presence on a network to mine sensitive data. It is routed towards SQL injection and cross-site scripting to target the IP and PPI. 

  • Network Attacks

Network attacks are executed to alter and modify private data. Passive network attacks only monitor and steal data. Active attacks involve encrypting and permanently damaging the datasets. They tend to limit themselves to a target perimeter to gain access to internal systems. 

  • Ransomware

Ransomware is malware designed to deny access to files on the network and demand a ransom for the decryption key. Attackers put organizations in a situation where paying the demanded ransom is the only way to regain access to an uncorrupted file. 

  • Insider Threats

An insider threat is a risk that originates within the organization and involves current or former employees manipulating critical information on parts of the organization.

  • Cloud-Native Security Threats

Cloud-native systems need more understanding of risks and mitigation before integrating. The tech world is taking a cloud-first approach to all operations. Unknowingly, it also takes on misconfiguration, broken authorization, and over-permissive states in the same bucket.

Dealing With Data Breaches- What Goes Wrong?

“There are only two types of companies, those who got hacked and those who will be.” – Robert Mueller, Former Director of the FBI.

Several organizations have covered cybersecurity awareness but lack a plan to prevent security breaches. Let’s go over the elementary mistakes a lot of companies made after suffering a breach:

Delayed Response

One of the organizations’ most common mistakes when dealing with a data breach is delaying their response. When a data breach occurs, time is of the essence, and every minute counts.

Delayed response can give attackers more time to extract valuable data and worsen the damage already done. Organizations should have an incident response plan to respond quickly and effectively to data breaches.

  • Lack of Communication

Effective communication is critical when dealing with a data breach. Organizations need to communicate clearly and transparently with their stakeholders, including customers, employees, partners, and regulators.

Lack of communication can create confusion and mistrust and lead to reputation loss. To avoid this, organizations should have a communication plan and ensure that all stakeholders are updated on the situation.

  • Insufficient Forensic Analysis

Forensic analysis is an essential part of dealing with a data breach. It helps organizations understand the scope of the breach, the type of data that has been compromised, and the potential impact on the organization.

However, organizations often fail to conduct a comprehensive forensic analysis, resulting in incomplete information and ineffective response measures.

  • Failure to Follow Compliance Regulations

Regulatory compliance is a critical consideration when dealing with a data breach. Many organizations fail to follow compliance regulations, which can result in hefty fines and other penalties.

To avoid this, organizations need to ensure that they have a thorough understanding of the applicable regulations and follow the necessary procedures when a data breach occurs.

  • Insufficient Employee Training

Employees are the weakest link in an organization’s cybersecurity. They may unintentionally click on a malicious link, share their passwords, or fall victim to a phishing scam.

To address this issue, organizations must invest in employee training to educate their staff on recognizing potential security threats and responding appropriately.

  • Inadequate Security Measures

Many organizations still rely on outdated security measures, such as firewalls and antivirus software, which are no longer effective against modern threats.

Organizations must ensure robust security measures, such as multi-factor authentication, encryption, and endpoint detection and response (EDR) systems, to protect against sophisticated attacks.

  • Lack of Coordination

When a data breach occurs, it is critical to have a coordinated response. However, many organizations fail to coordinate their response efforts, resulting in confusion, delays, and potentially more damage.

Organizations need to have a designated incident response team, clear roles and responsibilities, and well-defined communication channels to address this issue.

  • Failure to Learn from Past Incidents

Finally, one of the organizations’ most significant mistakes when dealing with a data breach is failing to learn from past incidents. Data breaches can be a learning opportunity. Organizations need to take the lessons learned from past incidents and apply them to their incident response plans.

Failure to do so can result in recurring breaches and continued vulnerability. By addressing these issues, organizations can minimize the impact of data breaches and protect their stakeholders from the negative consequences.

Best Practices to Prevent Data Breaches

Here are some best practices for data protection that can help you safeguard your organization’s data.

Conduct a Risk Assessment

The first step in data protection is to conduct a risk assessment. This will help you identify potential threats and vulnerabilities to your data. Once you have identified these risks, you can initiate steps to mitigate them. For example, you may need to implement stronger access controls or update security policies and procedures.

  • Develop a Data Protection Plan

After conducting a risk assessment, developing a data protection plan is important. This plan should outline the steps you will take to protect your organization’s data. It should also include procedures for data backup, disaster recovery, and incident response.

  • Implement Access Controls

Access controls are essential for protecting your organization’s data. You should implement strong authentication measures, such as two-factor authentication, to ensure that only authorized users can access your organization’s data. You should also limit access to sensitive data to only those who need it to perform their job duties.

  • Encrypt Your Data

Encrypting your organization’s data can help protect it from unauthorized access. You should use encryption to protect data both in transit and at rest. This will ensure that even if someone gains access to your organization’s data, they won’t be able to read it without the encryption key.

  • Train Your Employees

82% of all cybersecurity issues originate from negligence or human error. Your employees are your organization’s first line of defense against data breaches.

Training them on data protection best practices, such as identifying and reporting potential security threats, is important. You should also establish clear security policies and procedures and ensure that your employees understand them.

  • Implement a Data Backup Strategy

Data backup is essential for protecting your organization’s data from accidental deletion, hardware failure, and other disasters. You should implement a data backup strategy that includes regular backups and testing to ensure you can recover your data during a disaster.

  • Monitor Your Systems

Continuous monitoring of your systems is essential for detecting and responding to security threats. You should implement vulnerability scanning tools and web application firewalls like AppTrana to monitor your systems for potential security threats.

  • Conduct Regular Security Audits

Regular security audits can help you identify vulnerabilities in your organization’s data protection policies and procedures. You should conduct regular security audits to protect your organization’s data and identify improvement areas.

  • Stay Up to Date on Security Threats

Staying up-to-date on security threats is essential for protecting your organization’s data. You should monitor security news and updates and implement security patches and updates as soon as they become available.

Have an Incident Response Plan

Despite your best efforts, it’s still possible that your organization’s data will be compromised. That’s why it’s important to have an incident response plan in place.

Your incident response plan should outline the steps you will take in the event of a security breach, including who will be responsible for responding to the breach and how you will communicate with stakeholders.

From identifying the breach to recovering your system, the journey towards breach prevention best practices is broken down into 6 steps as follows: 

1. Assemble a team with key responsibilities assigned to each individual.

2. Identify key areas that are prone to the next attack and are vulnerable.

3. Contain and isolate the functionality that has gone through an attack.

4. Rope in experts outside the team to guide the resources.

5. Develop a strategy, response plan, and checklist for the next step.

6. Recover your system after eradicating the threat from the network.

In conclusion, data protection is critical for organizations in today’s digital age. As a leader of the organization, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your organization’s data is protected from threats such as theft, hacking, and accidental deletion.

By following these best practices, you can help ensure that your organization’s data is protected and that you are prepared to respond in the event of a security breach.