Cybercrime has grown into a dangerous and powerful monster that costs the world more than any other form of crime. This should not come as a surprise, given that data is now the world’s most valuable commodity, even surpassing oil. It has not taken long for cybercriminals to recognise the potential and exploit every vulnerability to put corporations and governments at risk. Risk Based Security reported 3,813 data breaches in the first six months of 2019, a 54 percent increase on the previous year. This clearly shows that IT security measures are not doing enough to combat malicious attacks.
For organisations of all sizes, the first step is to find a reputable cyber security company to protect your data, and make sure you have all the recommended practices in place. Beyond this there are extra measures available, but seeking out expert advice is the best starting point.
This approach takes encryption to the application level, and thereby minimises the exposure of clear-text data. It also reduces the need for third-party encryption platforms, such as encryption software. Application encryption can be applied to files or specific fields of data stored in an application, and data can be stored automatically when it enters an application. Organisations can customise application encryption to target certain sets or types of data, so that non-sensitive data isn’t encrypted unnecessarily, preventing any negative impact on system performance. Application encryption can also be used along with other cryptographic techniques, such as tokenisation or point-to-point encryption.
Hardware security module (HSM)
Encryption programmes that are software based are more vulnerable to malware and other attacks aimed at accessing encryption keys. This can be avoided with the use of hardware security modules, which store keys in a secure cryptographic device. These are scalable and flexible for growing enterprises, and are also industry compliant. The security levels offered by HSMs include digital signatures of cryptographic modules for preventing substitution attacks, circuitry that responds to intrusion by erasing sensitive data, and secure physical barriers to prevent access or intrusion.
Identity and access management (IAM)
This is the approach to policies, processes and technologies for managing digital identities within an organisation. It allows for access to sensitive data to be controlled by IT managers, based on the roles of individual users. The recommended Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP) can also be incorporated into access management to reduce security risks.
Different systems are used for identity and access management, such as multi factor authentication, privileged access management (PAM), and single sign-on (SSO). These technologies ensure personal data is stored securely and only relevant data is shared. Such systems can be implemented on site, offered by a third-party cloud-based vendor, or through a hybrid cloud-based model.
Secure data in transit
Data is always moved between locations, and for this reason data in transit should be central to any data protection policy. Both SSL (secure sockets layer) and TLS (transport layer security) cryptographic protocols can be used for this exchange, or communication channels between business operations and cloud infrastructures can be isolated with a VPN. These are used to encrypt traffic, and may be site-to-site or point-to-site VPNs. HTTPS secure communication protocol can be applied for secure transactions, and also in conjunction with storage REST API.
Secure third-party communication
Communication with third parties, such as Google Suite, Microsoft Office, Oracle and Salesforce, needs to be secure but also easy for users. This can be achieved with extensions and plugins that use extra security and governance capabilities. This can ensure that accessing, sending, receiving and saving files can be straightforward, productive and within compliance.
Third-party communication applications, such as Telegram or Slack, should have a secure perimeter around them to minimise threats. Office, mobile and enterprise apps that enable file sharing must be restricted and secured, and managers should be careful to block the installation and use of file sharing applications that are not authorised.
The Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report found that as many as 34 percent of 2018 data breaches were the result of malicious insiders. This figure is increasing year on year, and even more breaches are caused by employees inadvertently.
This is a rising concern for HR departments, who need to ensure that employees receive well-structured and professional training in cybersecurity best practices. The key components of such employee training courses must include password security, social engineering, unauthorised software, social media use, and general file security practices. Employees also need to understand the importance of IT security, how their practices impact the organisation, protecting sensitive personal data, and keeping the network secure. Employees are often the most vulnerable part of an IT system, so delivering training programmes of the highest quality is essential to company and employee security.
With cybercrime an increasing and potentially costly new trend, organisations in all sectors and of all sizes will be forced to implement and maintain the most secure defences. With more sensitive data available in a virtual space, both businesses and individuals are vulnerable to the rising threats and will benefit from extra security measures. In business, cybersecurity may be an extra expense, but failure to address the risks could lead to fatal and costly damages.