Data breach prevention best practices

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A data breach occurs when vital business information is misused, lost, or stolen from an organization by malicious internal or external entities. This information can include sensitive data such as PII, PCI, ePHI, and IP details. In an evolving threat landscape where data breaches occur more often, a strong data breach prevention plan could help organizations save millions and comply with regulations such as the GDPR, PCI DSS, and HIPAA.

8 ways to prevent data breaches

An effective data breach prevention plan typically includes these best practices:


Enable content-aware protection

Scan your entire network of servers, endpoint devices, cloud storage, and more, to locate files containing sensitive data. Tag the discovered files and organize them based on their business value and sensitivity level. Enforcing appropriate levels of security based on the tags assigned will help secure your organization's most critical information.


Scrutinize file permissions and monitor file integrity

Examine effective permissions to identify vulnerable and overexposed files. Locate file security risks such as broken permission inheritance, users with unrestricted access to sensitive files, and files owned by inactive users. Track attempts to modify or delete business-critical files and frequent permission changes, as they may be indicators of compromise.


Enforce proper authentication and authorization protocols

Build your entire IT infrastructure based on the Zero Trust model and ensure every user and device is subjected to MFA, before accessing sensitive data. Embrace the least privilege approach, allowing access only to users who absolutely need it. These measures will prevent cyberattackers from using stolen credentials to gain access to sensitive data.


Stay up-to-date with IT regulations

Data security compliance regulations typically mandate a combination of policies that apply to users and devices to avoid data breaches. Implement user-centric policies such as acceptable use, password, email, logon, and remote access. Ensure device-centric policies related to encryption, endpoint management, access control, and recovery management are in place.


Implement strict endpoint DLP policies

Deploy a third-party DLP solution across your network in phases, as implementing them at once may lead to excessive false positives. Create policies to restrict transfer of sensitive files across USB devices, emails, network shares, and more. Enforce strict URL filtering to block accesses to malicious, unsafe, or spam webpages and cloud applications.


Create employee awareness

Human error due to negligence and lack of awareness has been one of the primary causes of data breaches. Build a customized information security awareness program that educates employees on the types of social engineering attacks, the importance of strong passwords and email policies, quick incident reporting, and more.


Have a data breach response plan

Preparing for a potential data breach will significantly reduce the response time and minimize damage. Form a cybersecurity incident response team, and deploy endpoint detection and response and network traffic analysis solutions to detect and mitigate suspicious behavior. Create policies to isolate threats, reset passwords, roll out patches to affected systems, and identify the root cause of the attack.


Encrypt data at rest and in transit

Data encryption during storage and transfer is crucial as it prevents cyberattackers from using the data even if they manage to get access to it. For data repositories such as databases, cloud storage buckets, file archives, and more, apply modern encryption methods such as full disk encryption, database encryption, and file-based encryption. For email communications and files uploaded and downloaded to the cloud, use end-to-end symmetric encryption algorithms, and SSL/TLS protocols.

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