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Data Protection Day: taking a closer look at your cybersecurity systems

Image: Adobe Stock / Eakrin

Data Protection Day (28th January), known as Data Privacy Day in the US, is almost upon us. It aims to raise awareness about the importance of protecting personal information and data privacy.

In a time of rapidly increasing cyberattacks, it is vital to remind individuals and organisations of the need to safeguard personal information and to be aware of the potential risks of sharing personal information online. Every organisation must continually raise its game and make an active, long-term commitment to secure the data it holds.

Data Protection Day also provides a platform to promote the use of best practices and tools to protect personal information, and encourages individuals to take an active role in protecting their own privacy. In addition, it helps to raise awareness about the importance of data protection laws, regulations and policies, and their role in protecting personal information. So, what can we do practically to ensure we are safeguarding our data and minimising risk? There is no one single solution to data protection that fits every organisation but there are plenty of common-sense steps we can take. But first, it is worth looking at the most common types of cybercrime.

Know your enemy

  • Phishing: using fraudulent emails or websites to steal personal information such as login credentials or financial data.
  • Social engineering: psychological manipulation designed to trick individuals into disclosing sensitive information or performing certain actions.
  • Malware: software specifically designed to damage or disrupt computer systems.
  • Ransomware: malware that encrypts a victim’s files and demands payment in exchange for the decryption key.
  • DDoS attacks: attacking a website or network with traffic from multiple sources to overwhelm it and force it offline.

Training your employees

Clearly, cyberattacks in many cases rely on human error and fallibility, which is why training is important. That’s why the best first line of defence for most companies is their employees, who can act as a protective human firewall to prevent many of the cyberthreats outline above. By educating the workforce, they can identify potential threats and have an awareness of how best to protect against them. This is invaluable in keeping your corporate data secure. Training sessions should be a regular occurrence in the corporate calendar, routinely engaging employees and keeping them up to speed with the latest risks.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, most companies now use some form of a hybrid working model, which understandably means that the lines between work and home can become blurry, which comes with additional risks. Therefore, we need to ensure our employees apply their training both at work and at home. Some of us might be less strict when it comes to security measures on our personal devices than our work devices, however, protecting all devices, wherever they might be, is essential for business survival against cyberattacks.

The importance of testing and backup

When it comes to the technical side of things, penetration testing and vulnerability scanning should occur on a regular basis to ensure that your protection is up to date. The ever-changing threat landscape is unpredictable, so without regular testing, you open yourself up to threats while limiting the success of the simulation.

In the event of a cyberattack, the extra layer of every data security solution is disaster recovery and backup, which provide a way to restore normal operations. This involves restoring data that has been compromised, as well as restoring network and system configurations to minimise downtime. It is critical for maintaining business continuity and reducing the financial impact of a cyber incident. However, remember that these systems must also be protected as they are increasingly being targeted by more sophisticated cybercriminals.

Enabling compliance

As data breaches and cyberattacks become more commonplace, consumers are increasingly eager to know how their data is being used. That’s where compliance standards, such as ISO 27001 and PCI, come into play, assuring consumers that there is a level of trust and control for processing, storing, and transferring data securely. If organisations can introduce more transparency in how they monitor and report privacy and handle data breaches, they can build consumer trust. Companies that provide clarity when it comes to data privacy will win business based on it.

Data Protection Day might seem a little arbitrary in terms of timing but it really does offer us an opportunity to revisit our current cybersecurity systems and take into account the many moving parts involved. As we start 2023, now is the time to ensure you are ready for whatever the cybercriminals throw at you.

Picture of Andy Bates
Andy Bates
Practice Director at Security at Node4

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