Learning from Equifax: 5 Ways to Guard Against Corporate Identity Theft

The recent Equifax credit bureau data breach has brought corporate identity (ID) theft to the forefront of our collective conscience; however, it's not just individuals at risk. Organizations, large and small, are tasked with storing an extensive amount of sensitive information in personnel files, human resources (HR) documents, and corporate collateral, putting them at risk for identify theft as well. Read these five tips on how to guard against corporate identity theft.

5 Corporate ID Theft Protection Strategies

To keep your company’s data, brand, and overall identity safe requires vigilance and awareness of where your vulnerabilities lie. Consider the following handful of strategies as data protection best practices:

  1. Educate employees—Social engineering attacks such as spear phishing are among the most successful threat vectors employed by cyber criminals. Make sure your staff has ONGOING training about how to handle and protect data, particularly sensitive employee data.
  2. Patch management—An effective patch management approach seems like it should be a given at this point, considering it could have prevented the Equifax fiasco. However, as Ivanti notes in a recent post, “At many, if not most enterprises … consistent, comprehensive, and timely patch management is simply not happening.” As part of a comprehensive security strategy, patch management can quickly make your organization exponentially more secure.
  3. Control user’s web traffic—Most organizations do a fairly good job at hardening their network perimeter; however, when we allow the user base to browse “wide open” without restrictions, content filtering, and URL category marshaling, it becomes like inviting the burglars into the house.
  4. Be vigilant about updated policies and practices—The cybersecurity landscape is always changing, so the only way to keep up is to consistently re-evaluate how your organization handles data (e.g., how do you store and destroy sensitive data? who has access to data?) and develop policies to keep that data safe.
  5. Screen vendors—Ensure that the people you partner with and who have access to your systems are not only legitimate but also ascribe to your security policies and practices

Get Outside Help

With all the security concerns and data breaches, keeping up with security can seem overwhelming. Education and vigilance can go a long way, but the best defense plan for some organizations is a dedicated security team. Even if you have an internal team, building a relationship with an experienced and knowledgeable third-party security provider can help round out your security stance through IT auditing, penetration testing, training, and consulting.

Put in the Effort

Equifax rightly shook up everyone from individuals to politicians to CEOs—data breaches and identity theft, corporate or otherwise, are an all-too-constant reminder of the need to continuously protect your data. Companies that are apathetic, lazy, or simply don’t have the resources to put toward proper security measures will likely find themselves no longer in business. To ensure your organization’s data remains secure, follow the above guidelines and seek third-party assistance.