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Are Data Breaches Preventable?

Throughout the past couple of years, we have seen massive data breaches affect hundreds of companies across all industries. Due to these incidents, companies have lost millions of dollars in revenue and time as they rush to mitigate damages, inform the public and fix the problem at hand. The question that often rushes to the CISO’s and other executives’ minds after being informed a breach occurred is, “Was any of this preventable?”

The answer is, most of the time, yes.

Despite the news headlines and the growing awareness of data breaches, most company leaders fail to understand the true nature of these attacks and the consequences when they occur. While not all attacks are the same and even the most cyber-aware and diligent companies can fall victim, the steps below can help companies prevent a data breach.

Hire and train the right talent.

In the face of the tech talent gap, recruiting and retaining the right security professionals can be difficult. The key to developing strong employees is to provide them with the foundation to succeed. By incorporating the proper training and mentor programs, you are giving your candidates the tools to becoming prosperous cybersecurity professionals.

 Update old technology.

The key to preventing attacks is ensuring you have the tools to protect you, which includes updating legacy technology. As technology has evolved, better security practices have grown with it. Because of this, certain legacy technologies do not have the capabilities to protect data as well as new ones do. In addition to replacing hardware, old software should also be replaced.

 Do not mistake compliance for security.

Many companies make the mistake of believing just because they are compliant with privacy laws and regulations that they are also doing enough in regards to cybersecurity. For example, business owners will focus on what they need to have in place for processing payments or the bare minimum protocols to meet the guidelines. By doing the bare minimum, organizations open themselves to attack.

 Stay up-to-date on all of the latest cyberattacks and vulnerabilities.

Cybersecurity professionals need to be constantly aware of the newest changes in the app ecosystem. Code all over the world is being updated and deployed every second. Because of this, vulnerabilities and exploits are being found by both good and bad hackers. To stay on top of the newest threats to cybersecurity, daily research is required. In addition, businesses should pay attention to the news and see what other companies, specifically in their industry, are doing to stay secure and any attacks they have experienced lately. Pay attention to patterns.

Continuously scan for bugs and problems.

The best way to find problems? Continuously monitor for them. Regularly going back and reviewing old issues can help prevent them from occurring again. Enterprises should ask themselves a few questions: Has anything changed in the threat landscape? What software or hardware are we using that is outdated?

 Take care of vulnerabilities as quickly as possible.

Professionals in the development space are constantly fighting to put out the most innovative applications in a timely manner. Due to the time constraints and stress they face, it can be easy for developers to rush to finish writing code so the product is finished and not properly address vulnerabilities. While this may not cause an issue immediately, if an adversary finds out there is a vulnerability, they can use it to exploit data from the application.

 Remind employees to practice good cybersecurity habits at all times.

Finally, the most important way to protect an enterprise from a cybersecurity attack is to remind all employees, whether on the security team or not, to be careful and practice smart cybersecurity habits at all times. Remind them never to open links from emails, especially from individuals who they may not know, never to put in a unknown flash drive into a device or to share their password with anyone. While these may seem like little elements, they really can go a long way in keeping an enterprise protected.