Federal government agencies experience significant complications following exposure of confidential data. From financial losses to identity theft, a data leak can have a lasting impact on the effectiveness and reliability of the agency. Most data breaches are caused by theft or loss of data backup tapes.
With the frequency of data leaks and breaches continuing to grow, following a few proven steps can protect valuable data while mitigating potential risks. In this article, Eminent IT presents five essential actions that will help minimize the risk of data leaks:
- Identify Critical Data
An important first step is to identify the sensitive data. It is vital to categorize what data needs the most protection and utilize data loss prevention (DLP) software to safeguard this critical information. This identification process might include Personally Identifiable Information, Protected Health Information, blueprints, and financial statements to high-level strategy communications. It is a progressive effort that can best be actualized by implementing a data protection strategy that begins by primarily targeting sensitive documents for safeguarding. The next step is to classify these sensitive documents by types of data to enhance the organization and ease of implementing safety measures.
- Educate Your Employees
It is essential that all employees understand how to protect data from being compromised. This is achieved by educating employees on how to detect, avoid, and report scams and other suspicious activities. Emphasizing the need to create strong passwords and frequently changing them will go a long way in preventing any data leaks. Moreover, conducting regular security briefings will ensure everyone is aware of new threats and up to date on the latest policies. Additionally, it is important to reinforce the use of a virtual private network (VPN) when connecting to the internet from outside of the network. Whether logging in to check emails at a cafe or participating in an online conference while at the airport, employees must ensure that their connections are secured using a VPN whenever they are away from the office.
- Plan Regular Audits and Alerts on Critical Changes
Establishing an adequate system for auditing and monitoring changes will help prevent data leakages. Conducting proactive audits and using data security platforms that provide real-time alerts and pre-defined reports are essential for maintaining an effective security program. Ensuring that there is a defined strategy for monitoring changes taking place within the infrastructure that may affect confidential data will help prevent data leakages.
- Bring in Cybersecurity Expertise
As the number of cyber-attacks targeting federal agencies consistently rises, it has become essential to have reliable system security in place. Obtaining the expertise of cybersecurity experts will enhance the cyber resiliency of your infrastructure. These experts, often residing in IT companies like Eminent IT, analyze the entire data network and operational functionalities and recommend the right security plans, strategies, and tools to ensure the highest security level. Additional recommended security measures include conducting vulnerability assessments regularly to detect weak points in the security plan.
- Make Your Infrastructure More Secure
Encrypting sensitive data is one of the most effective ways to keep data secure. It provides an extra layer of protection to complement a data protection strategy. Also, consider reviewing existing security permissions and determining what each employee has access to and whether that access is required. Then, revise access policies to permit network privileges based on what employees require in performance of jobs. Limiting the permissions will minimize the risk of leaks by reducing the number of employees accessing sensitive data. Additionally, using firewalls can protect computers and the whole network from threats.
Hacking, data theft, and other cyber-attacks are a frequent and growing threat in the digital era. It is incumbent upon every federal agency to have top-notch cybersecurity to minimize the impact from the potential loss and consequences of a data breach. Taking the steps outlined above will help reduce the risk: identify critical data, educate employees, plan regular audits, bring in cybersecurity expertise, and make your infrastructure more secure.