How to Prevent and Respond to Data Breaches?

Many individuals and companies look for ways to respond to data breaches. It is not a matter of “if” but “when” you encounter a severe data threat or breach. Cybercriminals and hackers are getting smarter.

According to KVS Computers, a reputable computer repair, and e-cycling company, security demands are getting tougher. So, the government and regulatory agencies must take note. The purpose is to streamline litigation for data threats and breaches.

Data hacking has become a significant problem for businesses. The trend is on the rise because cybercriminals are taking the central stage to steal sensitive information. Corporate targets are quickly expanding.

Many organizations follow strict regulations. Still, many companies fall victim to cybercriminals because they don’t have strict policies. The 2014’s Sony data breach was a watershed moment when it came to breaching and stealing data.

Cybercriminals attacked Sony to cause harm. Hackers have no intention of getting financial gains. The breach targeted information the company had not protected preciously. It was personally identifiable information (PII). Read on!

What are Data Breaches?

More than 48 different sets of laws and regulations govern data breach notifications in the United States. The definition of a data breach is slightly different in each state and jurisdiction. Generally, a data breach refers to an authorized acquisition of information.

When a breach occurs, it compromises the system’s security. It also compromises the integrity and confidentiality of personal and financial information. So, businesses must know how breach occurs. Similarly, KVS Computers recommend implementing solid strategies to mitigate the risks. Types of Data breaches include:

  • Stolen information
  • Password guessing
  • Ransomware
  • Email phishing
  • Malware attacks
  • Viruses
  • Recording keystrokes
  • Distributed denial of service (DDoS)
  • XSS attacks
  • SQL injections
  • Others

Types of Information at Risk of Data Breaches

According to KVS Computers, ransomware is malware designed and used to encrypt files on a computer or smartphone. Previously, hackers would demand ransom in exchange for data decryption. Over time, cybercriminals have adjusted their methods and tactics, making them more destructive.

In addition, hackers increasingly perform the exfiltration of data. Next, they threaten to sell or leak the information, including personal and financial data, if the company fails to pay the ransom. These data breaches lead to financial loss to the victim company. So, not only does this erode customer trust but also reduces ROIs.

Remember, every business is at risk of falling victim to cybercriminals. Therefore, as a company owner, you are responsible for protecting personal, financial, and sensitive data. KVS Computers encourage all companies to adopt advanced technology and implement effective strategies.

Cybercriminals more commonly breach some types of data than others. For instance, hackers steal non-public but PII and protected health data. Besides, they breach systems and steal credit card information and bank account numbers. Customers’ data are of high importance to cybercriminals.

Although protecting this information is vital, there is an unaddressed risk around other data types. Therefore, businesses and IT professionals must work appropriately to protect sensitive data. Let us now discuss the impact of data breaches.

Financial Impact

Data hacking or breaches come with a wide range of risks. The financial impact of a data threat is vast at its core. Research shows that the cost per record of a data hack is $180. The cost spread out over thousands, or millions of records can quickly multiply.

Remember, the main cost is to retain counsel and call center vendors. The expense also relates to credit monitoring services. It also relates to the direct costs of investigation and forensics. The additional cost of investigations and forensics associated with malware incidents are four times higher than other types of data breaches.

Reputational Harm

Reputational harm is the most significant consequence for businesses. The fallout from a data hack can cripple an organization’s reputation. Depending on a company’s insurance plan, the cost of a firm is usually a covered expense.

However, companies must minimize the exposure of data breaches. KVS Computers recommend responding to public relations questions. Likewise, work on messaging to vendors, employees, customers, clients, and the press.

Responding to Data Breaches

The conventional method of responding to data hacks or breaches is primarily reactive. Although companies have detailed privacy and breach plans, they fail to apply strategies to all data types. So, organizations put information at risk.

Many companies have realized that the reactive approach is not efficient and cost-effective. That’s why they move toward a proactive approach. A proactive approach requires a company to know the types of data stored and the location of the data.

In addition, this approach requires a company know how to control data. Similarly, it is about looking for potential issues before they occur. Savvy companies know that they can’t eliminate the risks of data breaches. However, they can reduce the risk by implementing S.M.A.R.T practices.

Security Awareness Training

Experts at KVS Computers believe that employees are the first line of defense for a company. Our company ensures all our employees are aware of data hacks and breaches. We perform computer repair and refurbishment.

During the process, our employees scan and clean hard drives and other storage devices in search of viruses and ransomware. The purpose is to ensure our clients do not experience data-related problems. So, when your employees understand their responsibilities, they can better handle data and information.

That way, your employees will know what to do and what not to do when handling data. For instance, visiting untrusted websites and opening unsecured email attachments are a threat to your business. So, make sure you implement training programs for your employees.

Data Governance

Data governance policies are an integral part of the security strategy. Having an up-to-date inventory of your data assets and server locations is critical. Remember, this allows for understanding your data breach risks. At the same time, it enables you to implement effective and swift data breach responses.

So, when you implement data governance policies, you can limit the liabilities after data breaches. Information governance focuses on privacy programs, record retention strategies, and litigation readiness. Moreover, it serves to answer different questions:

  • What data do you have?
  • Where have you stored the information?
  • Do you manage it securely?
  • What policies govern your data?
  • Who has access to the information

Remember, an effective data governance program enables your company to delete unwanted data timely. You can also apply cross-organizational methods and controls to streamline the process.

Information governance is helpful for eDiscovery and other regulatory compliance requirements. It helps you control intellectual property and optimize employees’ productivity.

You can do this by reducing the amount of time your staff spends searching for data. That way, an efficient data governance program bridges the gap between compliance, your company, and business units.

Ongoing Vulnerability Assessments

When you regularly schedule vulnerability analysis, you can identify and classify data security holes in networks. You can also define and classify information security holes in IT infrastructure. The purpose is to mitigate the risk of data breaches. Similarly, ongoing vulnerability assessments enable you to stay active and apply security patches/updates.

According to KVS Computers, conducting hands-on tabletop training and running through real-life scenarios is crucial. That way, you can identify potential issues and execute a solid response plan. Remember, this preparation is critical and makes a massive difference in the success of a real-life exercise.

Team Alignment

Get your external and internal response team in place before a data breach occurs. Make sure you pre-vet your data breach notification vendor. At the same time, pre-vet your privacy counsel. You can prevent problems at the 11th hour or during the data breach threat when you have a team ready to respond.

Recent reports highlight that lawmakers, regulators, and awarding judges are friendlier towards companies that have taken a proactive approach to mitigate data breaches. So, it is wise to implement policies and plans. The procedure you implement for prevention and response can reduce the risk of data breaches.

Develop Advanced Solutions

Businesses can develop advanced solutions for data protection. For example, you can launch a comprehensive data breach notification department. It involves precision mailing and dedicated centers to identify and mitigate potential threats.

When a data breach results in a negotiated settlement, make sure you are ready to develop legal notice plans. Ensure your legal team can facilitate claims review and processing. The purpose is to ensure you have appropriate remedies.

It is better to manage all aspects of the procedure under one roof. It includes data acquisition, research, forms, notifications, and contact center support. So, this gives you a single point of contact and convenience throughout, enabling your to drive effective response.

Moreover, ensure you meet or exceed the most rigorous data security standards. Implement effective project management methodologies and best practices. That way, you can achieve successful outcomes every step of the way.

Provide your staff with comprehensive eDiscovery tools to handle a data breach and protect sensitive information. Proactive planning is critical for your business to maintain your employees’ and customers’ trust. Focus on:

  • Building plans, scripts, and templates
  • Properly vet and audit processes
  • Ensure the highest standards for security compliance
  • Train your employees by allowing them to participate in mock breaches
  • Perform tabletop exercises and equip your employees with security tools  
  • Closely monitor all processes and operations to ensure everything goes smoothly

Mitigate Internet-Facing Vulnerabilities

If you want to reduce the risk of hackers and cybercriminals, make sure you mitigate internet-facing vulnerabilities. Implement methods to reduce the risk of misconfigurations and data breaches. Employ best practices and train your employees to use Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) and other services.

Cybercriminals usually gain initial access through networks exposed or poorly secured remote services. That way, hackers propagate ransomware. KVS Computers suggest auditing your network for systems using methods like RDP, closed RDP ports, and multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Conduct Regular Vulnerability Scanning

According to KVS Computers, regular scanning for vulnerabilities can help you identify threats, especially those internet-facing devices. You can develop cyber protection methods or hire third-party services.

It is wise to identify and reduce your systems’ exposure to online threats, such as ransomware. When you take advantage of the advanced tools, you can reduce the risks and mitigate cyberattacks vectors.

Update Software

Not updating software can lead to vulnerabilities and cause gaps in the network systems. If you want to prevent data breaches, make sure you update software. These include operating systems, firmware, and applications. Ensure you carry out the update process timely and quickly.

Besides, prioritize timely patching of vulnerabilities. Protect all computers with premium antivirus programs. In addition, protect web browsers, plugins, document readers, employee portals, and databases. Implement vendor-provided mitigation strategies if you think patching quickly is not feasible.

Practice Cyber Protection Methods

Enable strong spam filters and implement a cybersecurity training program. Guide your employees on identifying, reporting, and analyzing suspicious activity—for example, ransomware, malware, viruses, phishing, etc.

You can use third-party phishing campaign assessment tools. That way, you can support and measure the effectiveness of your security programs. In addition, install antivirus and antimalware programs, such as Malwarebytes. Keep your signatures up to date. Other recommended strategies by KVS Computers are:

  • Implement application allow listing
  • Limit user and privileged accounts through policies
  • Incorporate user account control strategies
  • Develop account management portals
  • Employ multi-factor authentication across your organization, particular for:
    • Webmail
    • User accounts
    • Logins
    • Virtual private networks (VPNs)

Preventing Data Breaches – Final Words

Data is an integral part of any organization. It allows companies to visualize everything, from what is happing in different departments and systems to analyzing information to creating a better product-market fit. Data breaches can hurt companies. A data breach compromises personal, financial, and private information.

It can also lead to bankruptcy and other complications for businesses. Therefore, companies that store customers’ personal or sensitive information must protect it using advanced methods and tools. Follow the most practical tips given above to achieve your cybersecurity goals. Until Next Time!

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