As cyber security threats increase throughout the world, it’s becoming more and more important for businesses to develop strategies around how they handle confidential data. The details of your plan could mean the difference between staying safe and unnecessarily exposing classified information.
4 Steps to Better Handling of Confidential and Classified Data
If your company is like most, it stores a lot of confidential data. This may include sensitive information from joint projects with outside partners, proprietary algorithms and company trade secrets, or personal information from customers.
But have you ever considered how well you’re doing at protecting this data? Here are a few practical steps you can take in the right direction.
1. Use the Right Tools
When it comes to protecting confidential data, a lot has to do with your approach. How do you practically deal with information and do your employees take it seriously? But beyond the approach, you also need the right technological infrastructure in place to prevent and deter mischievous behavior.
For example, it’s a good idea to have a solution that allows you to safely exchange confidential information through both on-premise and cloud deployments. Enterprise-grade software from a company like XMedius can help. It’s also smart to have a threat detection tool that allows you to monitor your organization’s network traffic and react to suspicious activity in real-time. A tool like ArcSight is worth checking out.
2. Create a Classification Policy
Does your company have a data classification policy in place? As security pro Bill Hayes explains, “A data classification policy provides a way to ensure sensitive information is handled according to the risk it poses to the organization. All sensitive information should be labeled with a ‘risk level’ that determines the methods and allowable resources for handling, the required encryption level, and storage and transmittal requirements.”
Creating a robust classification policy that actually works will take some time. Don’t rush this process, but do get started as soon as possible.
3. Follow the Golden Rule
You know the Golden Rule – the one that says you should do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Well, this advice should be followed in the context of cybersecurity and data protection.
Every individual in your organization should be trained in such a way that they know what to do when they come across confidential data that’s been misplaced or used in an inappropriate manner. Protecting confidential data is a group effort and everyone needs to be on board.
4. Limit Employee Access
The final tip is to limit employee access as much as possible. Just because someone is on the payroll, doesn’t mean they need access to all of your company’s secure data and trade secrets.
Every employee should have certain restrictions placed on their accounts. Confidential data should only be accessible on an as-needed basis. And if someone needs to use certain information for an isolated project, temporary access should be granted and then revoked as soon as the project is complete. This may seem like overkill, but it’s how you avoid unnecessary risk.
Keep Your Business Safe
Your business is too important to leave exposed. While you may have gotten away with doing certain things 5, 10, or 15 years ago, you must recognize that the security landscape has changed dramatically. You face way more risks and the dangers associated with compromised or stolen data are immense. A single cyber attack or stolen piece of data could put you out of business – that’s how serious things are.
While the risk of compromised data will always exist, you can greatly improve your defense by taking a proactive stance. The tips outlined in this article will help you get there.