Data security breaches and exploits continuously make headlines as online organizations and applications are under constant attack by cyber criminals. The number of data breaches are increasing drastically year to year putting millions of people at risk of identity theft and fraud. A consequential data breach has the power to wreck company assets while taking down whole organizations by releasing sensitive data and embarrassing emails, so it only makes sense for an organization to take all necessary steps to protect its data.
Data breaches can occur from a variety of different scenarios ranging from large scale cyber attacks and hacking techniques to malicious activity within a system as the result of a portable device, system outage or error, and poor or non-existent security policies. That being said, the most common cause of data security breaches is weak or stolen passwords. In fact, according to Verizon’s “2015 Data Breach Investigations Report”, a whopping 76% of network intrusions occurred as a result of weak credentials. Hackers crack passwords with the help of specific tools and techniques or by using malware or phishing attacks. Once the right password is in the wrong hands, it is game over for the company and the user alike. Here are some keys to help you avoid data breaches.
Enforce a strong password protection policy to prevent a data breach
The first takeaway from this blog post is that enforcing a strong password protection policy company-wise should be taken seriously. After all, the stats don’t lie. Passwords should be reasonably complex and difficult to guess, should combine uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. A good password should avoid basic combinations (for example, “q1w2e3”) and should be unique, even if it holds meaning. Passwords should be changed regularity and a two-step verification should be applied.
Conduct a risk assessment
Starting your application’s journey with security in mind is the best and most efficient way to prevent a data security breach. For example, proper planning could ensure that developers build in strong password policies. As when it comes to protecting your application from such threats, the sooner you start, the better. By conducting a risk assessment, you begin by identifying threats and vulnerabilities followed by the evaluation of what kinds of sensitive information your company holds and which would be most sought after by cyber criminals, such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and other personal information belonging to your organization and to your users. With the growing wrath of cyber attacks, the risk assessment stage of securing your application’s security is a vital step of your Software Development Lifecycle (SDLC).
Restrict employee access to sensitive data and use data encryption
Many data breaches are caused by malicious insider threats, and though most often it is not on purpose, it is recommended to allow only trusted and necessary employees to access the data which cyber criminals may seek. A recent example of a massive data security breach caused by a human error is the Australian Red Cross, whose records were accessed by hackers who now have the private information of over 500,000 blood donors. Human errors happen, therefore to further your data’s protection, install encryption software on all devices and make sure all devices and key accounts are locked with strong passwords. This will protect your data in the case of a stolen device, ransomware or a file accidentally left unprotected.
Keep your software and operating systems up to date
Any software system can be flawed, and sooner or later someone will discover it. As the malware is ever evolving, most software and OS updates will address new vulnerabilities – better known as “patching”. Even if the pending update only features “improvements and bug fixes”, it is vital to install new updates to all of your programs to secure your application’s assets, operating system, and antivirus software as soon as a new “patch” is released.
To learn more about how CxSAST can keep you safe from the start, click here.