Data leak: When you think about data leaks, you probably imagine something big and dramatic: a hacker infiltrating your company’s servers and stealing confidential information, for example. However, data leaks also happen in smaller, more everyday ways.
There are many different ways that sensitive information can leak outside an organization.
An employee might print something and leave it on their desk; an HR employee might share an employee’s personal details with someone who shouldn’t have them; or a contractor might take home an unencrypted server without thinking of the consequences.
In almost every case, a small error or carelessness is to blame.
And while most businesses understand the importance of keeping confidential information secure, data leaks are surprisingly common.
For example, in 2018 there were 1,919 reported data breaches – which averages out to one breach every 90 minutes of every single day that year (for comparison, in 2017 there were only 890 breaches).
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How to Prevent a Data Leak: 7 Essential Tips
In today’s data-driven world, organizations collect and manage increasingly large amounts of sensitive data in their databases. Unfortunately, this creates an opportunity for malicious actors to access that data unlawfully. Whether it be through human error or a technical failure, these data leaks can have a significant impact on the company. From regulatory fines to loss of user trust and even bankruptcy, the consequences of a data leak can be severe. Therefore, it is essential that businesses take measures to prevent such a breach from occurring in the first place. Read on to discover how you can prevent a data leak before it happens and what steps you can take if you suspect your database has been compromised.
Ensure User Authentication During Login
The first step you can take to prevent a data leak is to ensure that all login attempts are authenticated. This means that if a user attempts to log into an account, their identity must be verified. If an individual is logged in without being authenticated, they could be able to access sensitive information without any restrictions. This could result in a data leak if an employee is careless with their login credentials and an attacker is able to access the database as a result. Verifying login attempts provides businesses with visibility into their database activities. If a login attempt is made from an unknown IP address, the organization can use this information to determine whether the attempt is legitimate. This can be done by looking up the IP address in a database and confirming the user’s identity. If the login attempt is suspicious or fails to authenticate, the database can be locked down to prevent the attacker from accessing sensitive data.
Establish and Enforce Strong Password Requirements
Strong password requirements can help to prevent data breaches by making database credentials less vulnerable to attack. Password requirements ensure that database users create strong login credentials that are difficult to decipher. This means that even if an attacker is able to decrypt the database, they will have difficulty accessing the data within it. Organizations should enforce strong password requirements that meet the latest NIST guidelines. These state that passwords should be a minimum of 12 characters long, contain a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols, and be changed every 90 days. Businesses can also benefit from implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) to ensure that login attempts do not go unchecked. 2FA requires users to provide an additional piece of identifying information when logging into a system. This can be done by entering a PIN, scanning a QR code, or inputting a one-time passcode.
Review Your Organization’s Data Protection Practices
Before a data leak occurs, you can review your organization’s data protection practices to identify any potential issues. This will help you to spot and correct any issues before they have a significant impact on your company. There are a number of data protection practices that businesses should adopt to protect their database. These include: – Adhering to Standard Access Levels – Organizations should establish business-mandated access levels for users. This will help to prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing sensitive data by restricting their ability to do so. Organizations should also adhere to these access levels when restructuring their database. – Managing User Privileges – By managing user privileges, organizations can reduce the amount of sensitive data that each individual has access to. This will help to prevent accidental data leaks by limiting the ability to view, modify, or delete sensitive information to only a select few individuals. – Employing Strong Database Encryption Practices – Data encryption is a powerful tool that can protect sensitive information stored in a database. This can be done by masking the contents of the database through the use of a cipher. There are a number of different encryption methods that can be used, depending on your organization’s needs.
Implement Strong Database Encryption Practices
As mentioned above, database encryption is a powerful tool that you can use to protect your data. There are a number of different types of database encryption that businesses can choose from and they each have their own unique strengths and weaknesses. – Symmetric Key Cryptography (SKC) – SKC uses a single cryptographic key that is used for both encrypting data and decrypting it again. The main advantage of this method is that it is less resource-intensive, making it cost-effective for businesses with limited budgets. – Asymmetric Key Cryptography (AKC) – AKC employs two different keys: a public key and a private key. The public key is used to encrypt data and the private key is used to decrypt it again. The main advantage of this method is that it makes it impossible for malicious actors to decrypt the data. The downside is that the public key must be shared with other users, which increases the risk of a data leak. – Hybrid Key Cryptography (HKC) – HKC is a combination of SKC and AKC. It uses a private key to encrypt the data and a public key to decrypt it. This method gives businesses the best of both worlds: it is more secure than SKC and less resource-intensive than AKC.
Institute A Strong Access Control Process
While encryption can help to protect your data, it is important to institute a strong access control process to prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing the database in the first place. Access control can be used to: – Restrict Log-In Attempts – Organizations can institute a strong authentication process to prevent unauthorized log-in attempts. This can be done by requiring employees to verify their identity before gaining access to the database. – Restrict Database Access – Access control can be used to restrict the ability of users to access the database. This can be beneficial for a number of reasons, including ensuring that individual privileges are not abused and that only authorized individuals have the ability to access sensitive data. – Monitor and Report Accessibility – Access control can be used to report on the accessibility of the database. This provides businesses with visibility into their database activities and helps to prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing sensitive data.
Preventing data breaches is essential for businesses. To do this, organizations must take measures to prevent such breaches from occurring in the first place. The first step you can take to prevent a data leak is to ensure that all login attempts are authenticated. Establishing and enforcing strong password requirements can help to make database credentials less vulnerable to attack. A well-managed database can also help to prevent data leaks by instituting a strong access control process.