By Theodora Evans

A data breach occurs when cybercriminals gain access to sensitive information without permission. It is possible for this breach to affect either personal or corporate data in a small or large organization. Both internal and external hackers are fast and invisible. They can cause a data breach when they gain access to customer accounts, names, passwords or credit card details due to poor security practices and other vulnerabilities in your company’s information system.

To avoid the huge fines that your company may face if a data breach occurs, you must plug all the potential data security loopholes. Here are the steps you need to take for effective protection of your data.

1. Update Your Software

Develop the habit of updating your software regularly. As soon as a software company releases an update, you need to check the reason for the update and take prompt action. If the update was released to correct a software vulnerability, your network can easily come under attack. You must perform all software updates related to security immediately. Remember that hackers have tools to scan a large number of websites in a short time to find vulnerabilities and exploit them.

2. Provide Data Security Training

Train your team to follow the best security practices. Let everyone know the critical nature of data security and how to prevent mistakes that can cause breaches. Your staff should learn to identify sensitive data and make security a normal part of your company’s culture. Training should not be a one-off event. Organize training periodically to improve security awareness and inform your team about any new security threats.

3. Periodic Risk Assessment

Set up a schedule for assessing vulnerabilities with your website and corporate network. Each assessment should touch all aspects including remote access, data storage and security policies. While you can carry out many security assessments in-house, working with a data security expert to perform a comprehensive test and assessment of your systems will allow you to have access to the best solutions in the industry.

4. Boost Network Security

Your employees may be providing hackers with an access route to your web servers without knowing. So you must ensure that:

* Users change their passwords periodically

* All users use strong passwords that cannot be found in the dictionary

* All login details expire if the user is inactive for some months

* Devices plugged into the network get scanned automatically for malware

In addition, you can also use data encryption to boost security. Data encryption will prevent hackers from using malicious software to gain easy access to data passing from one computer to another.

5. Setup a Web Application Firewall

A web application firewall (WAF) resides between your web server and each data connection. It reads each byte of data that passes to and from your web application and database. For a relatively low monthly subscription, it is possible to install a cloud-based WAF. This application can block all attempts to hack into your servers and filter out unwanted traffic from spammers.

6. Install Reliable Security Applications

While security applications may not be as effective as website application firewalls, they can still deter hackers from your site. Installing security plugins on your WordPress blog or website can protect your site from malicious bots. These bots scout the Internet, seeking sites with a particular version of WordPress and try to exploit any known vulnerabilities.

7. Disable Auto-filling of Forms

Don’t allow users to use the auto-fill feature on your website. It creates a major risk for data security. If a user’s phone or laptop gets lost or stolen, your site could be vulnerable to attack due to auto-fill forms. Don’t allow your site to be attacked because a user was careless or lazy. Ask users to keep their login details private and ensure that forms on your site are not used to inject malicious data or code into your database.

8. Improve Access Control

Make it very difficult for hackers to gain access to your website’s admin panel. Change your administrative username and password on a regular basis. Modify your default database table prefix and put a limit on the login attempts during a fixed period of time. You should also use a captcha for password resets because email accounts may be hacked. Don’t send any login details through email since an unauthorized user may have hacked into the email account.

9. Quarantine File Uploads

If you allow all file uploads to come directly onto your web server, hackers could gain access to your site’s data. Even when a script examines the files, bugs may still occur. The best way to handle uploaded files is to keep the files outside your root directory. Then you may use a script to gain access to these files when you need them.

Prevention is always better than a cure when it comes to data security. While it may be difficult to undo the damage done by hackers, it is possible to take steps to prevent most harmful cyber attacks.

Theodora Evans is a passionate blogger from Sydney and she is someone you would call an IT nerd. Also, she takes great interest in psychology and helping people deal with their mental and anxiety issues. Besides that, she loves martial arts and enjoying the nature. Facebook Twitter
Breach stock photo by Mashka/Shutterstock