Every year cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated. In 2020 alone, there were 1001 data breaches in the United States, with over 155 million Americans affected by data exposure. While investing in a third-party cybersecurity vendor will help protect sensitive data, it is only the beginning of a holistic and systematic approach to monitoring and tracking potential threats.
To safeguard organizations from becoming another statistic, it is important that they develop a comprehensive data risk management solution. In the following article, we will define data risk management, discuss its best practices, and reveal what our data has shown to make an effective data risk management solution.
Data risk management is the controlled process that an organization implements when acquiring, storing, transforming, and using its data to identify potential risks that could result in the compromise of critical data. By implementing a comprehensive data risk management solution, an organization can better protect data from the following cyber-attacks:
Phishing is a type of social engineering where an attacker sends a fraudulent message designed to trick a human into revealing sensitive information. Phishing attacks have become increasingly sophisticated and often mirror the site being targeted, allowing the attacker to observe everything while the victim is navigating the site in real-time.
Phishing attacks are by far the most common attack performed by cyber-criminals. In 2020, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Centre recorded over twice as many incidents of phishing as any other type of cyber-crime.
Malware is any malicious software planned explicitly to harm a computer, server, client, or computer network. The most common types of malwares include viruses, trojans, ransomware, spyware, rogue software, wiper, scareware, adware, and worms.
Brute Force Attack involves a hacker submitting multiple passwords or passphrases hoping to guess a combination correctly. Another option is for the attacker to use an exhaustive key search. This involves the attacker using software that guesses the key that is often created from the password using a key derivation function.
According to a study by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), 83% of small business owners have no formal cybersecurity plan in place. In the same study, they found 59% do not have a contingency plan outlining the policies and procedures for responding and reporting data breach losses.
So how can organizations reduce the risk of a data breach crippling their business? Here are what we believe to be the top 3 best practices for creating an effective data risk management solution:
1. Establish regulatory compliance
An organization's regulatory responsibilities are highly contingent upon the type of data they handle. For example, while becoming PCI compliant is mandatory for all eCommerce businesses, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) also applies to any company that stores, processes, or transmits cardholder information.
It is important for organizations to consult with a compliance specialist to identify the precise requirements that apply to their business, industry, and geographic location. Apart from receiving fines for failing to comply with regulations, this will better govern the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of company data.
2. Clean up unstructured data
Unstructured data is any data stored in easily accessible and shared formats. The largest source of unstructured data comes from email and documents saved to network shared drives. Over time, unstructured data builds up and becomes hard to manage, creating vulnerabilities in IT infrastructure.
Organizations with a data risk management strategy that collects, organizes, and analyzes unstructured data, can increase productivity, improve data quality and reduce unauthorized access to sensitive information.
3. Educate your employees
Human negligence is now the leading cause of cyberattacks. What do we mean by human negligence in terms of cybersecurity? Human negligence refers to the unintentional actions by employees and users — or a lack of action — that allow a data breach to happen.
This includes opening a malware-infected attachment, not using a strong enough password, or simply leaving sensitive materials behind at the airport.
While human errors cannot be eliminated, studies have shown that measures such as cybersecurity education and awareness training can help to reduce the risk of data breaches by up to 60%. By training and educating your workforce, employees will be better equipped to identify potential threats, take more precautions when clicking links or downloading software, and develop stronger password etiquette.
The key to a successful data risk management solution is being prepared to address certain scenarios that may arise after a data breach has occurred. It is crucial that your organization has a plan that can swiftly answer:
How bad is the breach?
What are we doing to handle the breach?
And what are we doing for those affected by the breach?
Those who are affected will not be concerned with how the data was breached, they will primarily want to know how you are handling the problem. In other words, the most important part of an effective data risk management solution is not about data management, it is about having a contingency plan that can effectively address what happens next in the event a data breach.
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