Whether an organization hasn’t developed a data security plan out of a false sense of security or a lack of expertise, the results will be the same. A security breach will be debilitating. Every business owner, regardless of company size, should develop and implement a concrete data security plan.
Data Security Plan Essentials
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) knows a thing or two about business best practices, including data protection plan fundamentals. The organization cites the following data security principles as best practices:
- Take stock. You can’t protect data if you don’t know where it is. Determine where your company’s sensitive data is stored and track who has access to it and on which devices. An in-depth inventory is one of the first lines of defense.
- Scale down. Why put your company at additional risk storing sensitive data that you don’t need? Keep what only is required for your business—the less sensitive data you have, the less you have to protect.
- Lock it. Make sure all four bases are covered: physical security, electronic security, contractor, third-party partner security, and last (but far from least) ongoing employee training.
- Pitch it. The stories of dumpster diving for identity information are true. Ensure all data you dispose of, whether physical or electronic, is no longer readable. Physical data should be shredded or burned, and electronic data should be securely erased with software made for this purpose.
- Plan ahead. Be ready for a data breach with a concrete incident management response plan that includes containment, prioritization of remediation actions, forensics to determine how and where the breach started, notification procedures, and if and when to contact authorities.
It is also crucial to keep in mind that for many companies in a range of industries, data security is not optional. Regulations and industry security standards require a set level of data protection to acquire and maintain compliance. Failure to do so leaves you vulnerable not only to a data breach but also regulatory fines, legal action, and more.
Not If but When
Incident response is one of the key components of an effective data security plan. The statistics are clear: The question is not if a data breach will occur but when. Understanding and accepting this reality will help make an incident response plan a priority. When a compromise happens, a quick and thorough response is required to ensure the incident is contained and your company can recover.
Security Basics Are a Must
Ignorance and a false sense of security won’t keep you any safer. Learn the basics of data security so that you’re at least aware of where your company should be, security wise, and seek out a security provider to help round out your security posture.