Every organization relies on a number of certainties to keep their business running. They trust that their employees are knowledgeable, their cybersecurity strategies are robust enough to prevent vulnerabilities, and their data is protected from prying eyes, among other things.
But what happens when a seemingly harmless email or misplaced laptop rocks the boat? Without a carefully-laid plan of defense, the calm seas you sail can become a hurricane that sends your business wayward—straight into a cliff.
There’s no quick fix for a scenario like this, but armed with accurate information and a strong incident response plan, you’ll be two steps closer to identifying a storm before it hits … and better equipped for charting your path around it.
Step One: Decide How to Control Your Data
To keep sensitive information from being compromised, you must first know where it is, who has access to it, and how best to protect it. In essence, you need to control your data flow.
There are many ways to accomplish this, but in the interest of time, here are two important strategies we recommend adding to your security practices.
Educate your employees
Unless you have a different setup, your HR department probably created employee guidelines that help maintain company productivity, positive work ethic, and brand synergy. These policies are often documented and provided to employees during onboarding and initial training.
Employees who understand what and why behind your security directives are more likely to advocate for the organization’s success—and do their part to protect sensitive information by following password guidelines, alerting IT to potential phishing attacks, and so on.
Human error is the leading cause of today’s data breaches. Avoid this by making security awareness training a part of every employees’ onboarding process.
Want to boost your employee education? Get started with these four easy tips.
Implement helpful cybersecurity solutions
Choosing the right solutions for your organization is a good way to improve how you control your data. Most data exchange is performed through emails, server transmissions, and network communications. For better security, consider implementing a combination of the following tools to ensure that data is properly encrypted and distributed across your departments and businesses.
Firewalls: Firewalls are defined as “a part of a computer system or network that is designed to block unauthorized access while permitting outward communication.” Every organization should have strong firewalls in place, but it’s not enough to set them up and forget them. Firewalls can assist you in managing internal traffic and work well with file transfer protocols like SFTP. Furthermore, if used correctly, they can help stop attacks from malware and malicious packets.
Anti-Virus: No platform is immune to viruses, so chances are, you’ll never be able to prevent viruses from attacking your servers. The good news is, you can respond to these threats, therefore reducing the damage done to your information. One way to do this is through anti-virus software. Anti-virus software regularly scans your systems for viruses and removes them. Some solutions, like Stand Guard Anti-Virus, offer free scans for first-time users—so there’s no excuse not to secure yourself and eliminate risky viruses from your environment.
Secure File Transfer: Ensuring that your data is properly secured, both in-transit and at rest, is critical for avoiding the compromise of sensitive company information. A secure file transfer solution allows transfers based on user settings (e.g. permissions, groups, roles) and moves inbound and outbound files so data flow is easily managed and monitored. Furthermore, all data is heavily encrypted with secure protocols like SFTP, FTPS, OpenPGP, and HTTPS so you never have to worry if a file is intercepted by the wrong person.
Step Two: Decide How to Respond to a Security Incident
Creating an incident response plan is not an optional step for IT teams. The causes of a breach or leak can be intricate and obscure, leaving you with mounting stress as you try to fix them. If you prepare your organization for the unexpected beforehand, though, you can avoid the headache.
That’s why we suggest creating an incident response plan. Get started with these resources:
6 Steps to Making an Incident Response Plan (Security Metrics)
Looking for a quick how-to? This article provides a six-step summary that is easily digestible and simple to walk through. It’s not the be-all-end-all of incident response plans, but if you only have 10 minutes to dedicate to research today, start here.
10 Steps for a Successful Incident Response Plan (CSO Online)
For those who have 20 or 30 minutes to spare, use this guide to explore the components of a successful plan. CSO Online’s 10 steps will help you create an incident response plan that’s strategic, verifiable, and accurate—not only in theory, but in application too.
Incident response plans help determine how to address a breach once it happens, but why not also enhance your cybersecurity to stop risk in its tracks? Use this in-depth white paper on data breach defense to discover how your team can deploy strong security practices that encrypt, monitor, and audit the use of sensitive information.
An unexpected security incident, like a data breach or misplaced information, can be costly. Taking time to control your data and develop a robust incident response plan with these tips will help keep things running smoothly … and limit your stress in the meanwhile.