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Does my business need a data security policy? How would I establish one?

By Grudi and DāSTOR

Data security is a crucially important consideration that many businesses underestimate or overlook. Next to your people, data is likely your organization’s most valuable asset. It is also increasingly under attack from many different channels. The good news is that you can take tangible steps to prevent and minimize the damage attackers can do to your business. Grudi has the expertise and resources to help.

A key Grudi partner in assisting customers to protect and preserve their data is DāSTOR, a provider of enterprise data center and private cloud solutions that leverage foundational infrastructure and interconnectivity to drive scalable and reliable digital services.

Patrick Brown, DāSTOR’s Director of Business Development, Strategic Partners, has provided invaluable information and excellent recommendations for how businesses can secure their data.

People often comment after experiencing a data loss event that they knew they needed to firm up their security policy and be more proactive, but they were not sure how to start the process.

Protecting your sensitive business and customer data with a strong data security policy is essential to your business’s continued success. The data collected and analyzed allows for process improvements and correctly calculated business decisions.

We are discussing data security, the process of protecting sensitive information such as business and customer data. Data security is mandated at a business level. Data privacy, by comparison, is managing and storing sensitive information properly according to the law.

With increased work-from-home policies now in place for most businesses, the exposure to security threats has been elevated, making the need for data access, storage and retention crucial. Instances of cybercrime appear to have jumped by as much as 300% since the beginning of COVID, according to the FBI.

Instances of cybercrime appear to have jumped by as much as 300% since the beginning of COVID, according to the FBI.

The growing number of data breaches is yet another reason why data security needs to be a top priority. It isn’t a “one action fixes everything” concept, but more a layered approach with a combination of data security policies, education and awareness for all employees, and proactive cybersecurity measures.

Anyone can be the victim of a data breach, and the cost of recovering your information can be greater than the time needed to prepare and implement a plan.

With the costs of recovering compromised data outweighing the costs of proactively planning against a breach, why not initiate the plan?

Protecting your organization’s most valuable resource requires far more than an IT security program. Having a well-documented security policy is an indispensable step in protecting sensitive data and minimizing threats. Sharing and safeguarding information across different branches is the key to establishing data protection policies for your organization.

Despite the increasing number of data breaches, the majority of small and midsized businesses still do not have well-established data security policies. The lack of a data security program can open the door to a variety of security risks, such as data theft, data tampering and unauthorized access to sensitive information. In addition to this, it can also disrupt your business operations, damage your brand, lead to the loss of intellectual property and even have legal implications.

A recent study conducted by Sophos revealed that 96% of companies are concerned about the state of their public cloud security. There appears to be a valid cause for that concern, as 70% of companies that host data or workloads in the cloud have experienced a breach of their public cloud environment in the past year.

70% of companies that host data or workloads in the cloud have experienced a breach of their public cloud environment in the past year.

The most common attack types were malware (34%), exposed data (29%), ransomware (28%), account compromises (25%) and cryptojacking (17%).

Taking the initiative to develop and implement a data security policy is vital, but how do you start? There are some key elements you will need to consider when drafting your data security policy. You need to identify both internal and external factors that could interrupt business operations.

You should include these elements in your data protection policies:

Data Privacy

It is important to ensure that confidential customer records are safeguarded from prying eyes and opportunist scammers. Putting a data privacy plan in place, consistent with regulations, will not only ensure your compliance, but also serve as an important step in preventing any kind of data misuse. This often means encrypting emails if they contain sensitive information.

Software User Agreements

It is vital for employees to comply with end-user license agreements. Breaching these agreements could result in lawsuits and fines. Ensure that your employees are aware of this policy so that all software used is legal and approved by your business. 

Email Usage

According to 2021 statistics, around 94% of malware is delivered through email. An email policy is essential for both limiting the risks of your employees and protecting your organization from becoming the victim of phishing attacks and other email-based threats, such as hacking using malware. A carefully outlined email policy will improve the likelihood of quickly identifying and neutralizing potential threats. Another thing to consider implementing is regular phishing simulations so you can see how likely your business is to be breached via email. Your IT team or security partner can put this in place.

According to 2021 statistics, around 94% of malware is delivered through email.

Password Management

It is crucial that you implement a strong password management policy for all employees with access to your business resources. According to the 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, over 80% of data breaches due to hacking are password related. The policy should emphasize the need for periodic password updates and specify how data and passwords are secured and the consequences of violating the policies and procedures.

Internet Usage

It’s important to have an internet usage policy to guide your employees in safely accessing the web. As businesses increasingly rely on the internet, this dependency makes them vulnerable to significant security risks. Additionally, your employees should know that accessing restricted sites and downloading unnecessary files are forbidden. Consequences should be clear if they violate these rules. Adding strong firewalls and VPN access provides additional protection.

It’s important to have an internet usage policy to guide your employees in safely accessing the web.

Business-Owned and Personal Employee Devices

Remote access through workplace devices has multiplied security risks. In order to manage, monitor and secure business-owned and personal employee devices such as laptops, tablets, cellphones and desktops, a corporate policy is key. It is difficult to monitor and control personal devices that employees use for both recreational and business purposes. These devices can easily be exploited. By following a comprehensive information security policy in your business, you can minimize the risk of data breaches. For example, you should install up-to-date security systems, direct your staff to connect to the office network through a secure VPN and instruct them to immediately report any lost or stolen devices.

Reporting Security Breaches

Every business runs the risk of attempted data breaches, and most say “It’s not if, it’s when.” It’s important for a business to have an Incident Response Plan in place and review it periodically. In the event of a data breach, your employees need to immediately report the incident. A data breach policy provides guidance for your business to manage data breaches. A data breach policy will help your employees know, step by step, the appropriate actions to be taken in the event of a data breach. Make sure employees know how to manage such situations and implement appropriate internal procedures.

For any organization, data is among its most valuable assets, and it must be protected. Adding to the challenge are the constantly evolving and complex data privacy regulations that businesses need to follow for compliance, but that’s another topic for later.

Whether you need to update and refine your data security policies and procedures or create them from the ground up, Grudi can make it happen. Working with partners like DāSTOR and Patrick Brown, we can help you avoid a data catastrophe before it occurs. Request a free assessment and demo today.

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