Essential data has never been more easily accessible. Simply having a social media account can expose so much of your personal information. That’s why protecting critical data is crucial whether you’re a business or an individual.
This article will provide eight practical tips and strategies for securing essential data. The points focus on providing actionable advice that can be implemented quickly to help improve data security.
Table Of Contents
- 1 Limit access to essential data
- 2 Encrypt your essential data
- 3 Back up your essential data regularly
- 4 Store essential data in the cloud
- 5 Regularly update your software
- 6 Secure your network
- 7 Don’t forget about physical security
- 8 Don’t forget about insider threats
- 9 Bonus tip: employee training
- 10 Final thoughts
If you carry a stack of money, you will likely look to put it in a safe or secure it some other way. The same goes for your data. You must do everything you can to prevent easy access. This includes creating strong passwords and enabling two-factor authentication. The easiest way to create and maintain strong passwords is through a password manager.
For businesses, there are several more steps to protecting essential data, such as:
- Access control so only authorized users can access the data.
- Implementing the principle of least privilege, which grants the bare minimum permissions necessary to complete a task.
Encryption is one of the three elements of strong cybersecurity, alongside authentication and authorization. Encryption encodes data, turning it from plaintext to coded text, making it unreadable to unauthorized users. Even if hackers get inside you system, they won’t be able to read the encrypted essential data.
To maximize the benefits of encryption, it’s important to use robust encryption algorithms, such as AES, RSA, or Blowfish. These algorithms are great for protecting data at rest. To protect data-in-transit, use secure protocols such as SSL or TLS to encrypt data transmitted over networks.
Backups are another crucial element of data protection. Regular backups (preferably daily or weekly) give you peace of mind and ensure that important data is available regardless of circumstances. Data loss is fairly common, whether through human error, hard drive failure, or a cyber attack.
Data backups are especially important for businesses since business data is constantly changing. Doing it once a year is hardly enough and won’t cover most essential data you have stored.
An easy way to back up your data is to store it on multiple devices. For example, one copy on a hard drive and another on a flash drive.
The cloud has taken over the internet, with everyone from regular folks to large corporations moving their sensitive data to cloud platforms. And it’s no wonder why. Many of the security principles we mentioned in this article so far are foundational to the cloud and it’s what makes it so important for security.
For example, most cloud storage providers have strong encryption and data backup capabilities. Additionally, data transfers are much safer in the cloud than other means, such as email.
Advanced cloud storage subscriptions also come with data monitoring. This is especially important for businesses that look to protect sensitive customer data. Detecting suspicious activity in time can be the difference between a data breach and safety.
You may not think a small OS update has anything to do with your essential data. However, these small updates can make a difference if a hacker attempts to get unauthorized access to your system. Outdated software is a common attack vector for cybercriminals seeking to obtain valuable data.
It’s best to enable automatic updates whenever possible. Most software, including your OS, has the option to enable auto updates. This ensures that critical updates are installed promptly, protecting you from vulnerabilities known to hackers.
Hackers commonly exploit weak network security to gain access to their victims’ systems. Implementing an efficient and strong network security system is essential for protecting data.
Tools that help ensure strong network security include:
- Firewall: Controls incoming and outgoing network traffic and protects against unauthorized access.
- Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems (IDS/IPS): Detect and prevent unauthorized network access and attacks.
- Monitoring and logging tools: Regularly monitor network activity and log events to detect and respond to security incidents.
People have become so obsessed with securing their cloud or protecting data against hackers that they often forget about physically protecting their devices. Hard drives, USB sticks, and laptops are all valuable properties, especially if they’re loaded with essential data.
It’s important to practice strong physical security, particularly in public. You never know the intentions of people you encounter. That doesn’t mean always walking on eggshells, but you should be mindful of how and where you keep your devices.
If you have data centers, protect them with strong authentication and authorization measures. Also, consider installing surveillance cameras and alarms.
Most of the risk to your essential data comes from the outside. However, inside threats are very real, no matter if you’re a person living with a jealous relative, or an organization with a disgruntled employee.
Insider threats are particularly difficult to detect and prevent. The most important factors to protect against insiders are:
- Strong physical security, and
- Strong passwords and multi-factor authentication
For businesses, the security of your data largely depends on your employees. Human error is the number one cause of data breaches. Employees who are unaware of impending online threats are likely to handle data carelessly.
Security awareness training is necessary to help employees understand the best cybersecurity practices. This includes learning how to properly handle essential data.
Protecting your most valuable data is an ongoing process. You must always be mindful of where and how you store it to maintain maximum security. Cloud storage is an excellent solution because it does a lot of the work for you. This includes encryption, data backups, monitoring, and much more.
It’s also important to emphasize physical security. No matter how many advanced tools you use, your data will never be safe if the devices it’s stored on are easy to steal.