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The number of data breaches are increasing each year, but there are also steps you can take to bring increased data protection to your business or organization. Firewall and anti-virus software alone may not provide all the protection you need. Cyber thieves, scam artists and hacker vandals are coming up with better ways to get into data systems. Prevention is the best cure and a proactive approach beats any reactive measure when it comes down to a data breach.

Monitoring and Tracking Data and Email Communications

One of the basic steps that can be taken to prevent sensitive data from being breached is to limit the number of individuals who have access to it. An organization’s system administrator can monitor data and maintain a watchful presence by reviewing daily logs of who accesses critical or sensitive data.

It can be both informative and revealing to be aware of how often certain data types are accessed. Unusual or excessive data access patterns can be questioned and need-to-know-only restrictions can be enacted if there appears to be suspicious network activity.

Restrictive use of passwords and changing them frequently can help limit and control who has access to critical data. Although it’s not impossible for someone in an organization to be tricked into revealing a password by a convincing phishing email, comprehensive 24/7 scanning of incoming and outgoing emails can help act as an early warning system.

Digital Data Transfer Control

Controlling the physical movement of digital data can help prevent its falling into the wrong hands. The ability to download sensitive data onto a mobile device or an external storage device should be strictly controlled or in some cases restricted. Once data physically leaves the premises it becomes much easier for outsiders to get their hands on it.

Laptops and tablets are great ways for team members to work remotely, but if one is stolen or lost, the data stored on it can be compromised. It can help increase an organization’s data security to have any and all remote devices protected by reliable encryption software. Depending on the circumstances, it may be best to ban the use of any nonencrypted laptop, tablet or home-based PC.

Physical Data Control

Data protection is not limited to the digital world. Printed reports, memos and other hard copy files should be safely stored and shredded when disposed. Transportation of sensitive printed materials should be restricted to trusted individuals or reliable courier systems.

When computer storage devices such as hard drives and external storage devices are retired, they should be physically destroyed. Programs have been developed that can retrieve data from storage devices that have only been erased or reformatted. The only way you can be sure that data once stored on a drive or other device has been made permanently inaccessible is to destroy it.

Training Can Be an Effective Proactive Approach

It pays to include effective data protection and cyber security training in the onboarding process for new employees. The critical nature of cyber security should be emphasized along with the importance of each employee recognizing their responsibility to contribute to protecting organizational data. Procedures to prevent, identify, document and report threats or suspicious activity should be clearly outlined. Refresher training sessions can be provided in small or large group settings.

During training and onboarding sessions special attention should be given to employee adherence to organizational policies and procedures regarding Internet and email usage. It should be stressed that adherence to cyber security policies plays an important role in how employees are rated in their performance reviews.

Ways to spot and detect suspicious email attachments, links or phishing attempts should be taught. Before opening or responding to an email, employees should be trained and sensitized to consider the source. Is it from someone they know? Does it appear odd or contain unusual spellings or grammar? A good organizational mantra to instill throughout the workforce is “When there’s any doubt, there is no doubt.”

Partner Up With Your Internet Provider

Your broadband internet provider can be a reliable and powerful ally in combatting and preventing cyber threats. When high-speed Internet, cloud computing or VoIP phone systems are part of your strategy to remain competitive and efficient, your service provider can be a knowledgeable and seasoned partner. There’s no need to fend for yourself when devising or implementing your data security systems. Portland Broadband offers no-obligation and no-fee consultations that will outline how we can best assist you in protecting your data.