Preventing data breaches in small and medium businesses

September 2019 Cyber Security

A recent study by IBM indicated that in 2019, on average, a single data breach costs $3.92 million for the affected company. The growing number of cybercrime occurrences of this sort is forcing organisations to rethink their security efforts to ensure their data is well protected.

According to a network infrastructure industry insider Vincentas Grinius, the increasing number of data breaches can be partly curtailed if companies would hire cybersecurity specialists and make sure their data – both stored and in-transit – is encrypted and segmented, while only partially accessible to employees.

The same survey reports that over the past five years, the financial damages inflicted by data breaches have increased by 12%. Finally, small and medium enterprises employing less than 500 people are the most vulnerable, since breach-affected companies of this size are potentially losing $2.5 million on average, a possibly stifling amount for growing companies.

Some breaches, however, can get more devastating than others. This July, Capital One announced that its data had been compromised via a breach, leading to the information of 106 million customers being exposed for some time. Handling the aftermath of this incident alone is expected to cost the company between $100 and $150 million, and this does not include the damage done to the bank‘s reputation.

Nonetheless, there are steps organisations can take to minimise the probability of a potential data breach. Grinius, CEO of Heficed, highlighted a couple of measures that, if applied by an organisation, would significantly diminish chances of a data breach.

“This might not look like a necessity for every business, but hiring a dedicated cybersecurity professional could be the best single step organisations can take to ensure the integrity of their data,” said Grinius. “Having an extra person on the payroll might come across as unnecessary expenses, but specialists of this sort prepare company-wide cybersecurity strategy, carry out periodic check-ups, and provide other employees with the necessary tools and knowledge to minimise risks.”

Data encryption is something that, if applied by more companies, could potentially help diminish the growing global number of data breaches. When the data is encrypted, it can be only viewed by someone who has the encryption key. Otherwise, even if the company’s data has leaked, the information would render useless for the illicit actors.

“Enterprises need to encrypt their data not only when it is being stored on their local disks, known as data-at-rest, but also while it is being moved, known as data-in-transit,” added Grinius. “It is not enough to have your data, or the whole storage unit encrypted prior to storing it. It is equally essential to ensure the security of data-in-transit by encrypting the information before moving it, and using encrypted connections such as HTTPS or SSL, among others.”

Finally, smaller enterprises can improve their cybersecurity standing by segmenting their data and limiting access to it. While this strategy can be troublesome to apply for companies with vast numbers of employees, organisations owning comparably small amounts of data and a lesser count of employees can undoubtedly benefit from this method.

“When a company provides only a minimum amount of access needed for the employees to fulfil their roles, the risk of widespread breach greatly diminishes,” commented Grinius. “What is beneficial about this approach is the fact that even though the data during a breach might get exposed, the breach won’t be system-wide, as the stored data is highly segmented.”

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