World Password Day: Vigilance for data security

In the modern cloud technology landscape, cybersecurity must be considered one of the greatest risks to any organisation today. Criminals can gain access to systems in a multitude of ways before encrypting and downloading as much data as possible in the hopes of escaping without detection. In fact, recent Veritas research has found that over the past two years, over half (65%) of organisations reportedly experienced a successful ransomware attack in which an attacker had gained access to the system.

This World Password Day, we must re-evaluate what we are doing to prevent data breaches. Combatting this growing threat requires organisations to utilise technologies that increase the visibility of all access to company systems and ensure these access processes are secure and safe from outside tampering. This means that in today’s evolving threat landscape, staying safe from online threats and ransomware extends far beyond simply changing passwords every few months.

How are data security policies essential to keep systems safe from outsiders?

Breaches of data security have been the most damaging of any business threats to any organisation last year, according to 40% of respondents in the 2023 Veritas Global Data Risk Management Report.

Cybersecurity policies, which are the rules and practices that help protect systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks, can help your employees better understand their role in technology and information asset protection. These policies can provide a blueprint for employees on what information can be shared, how to use devices and materials online, and how sensitive material should be stored or handled.

Implementing strong policies can help IT professionals better contain breaches, protect assets, and mitigate the potential for reputational or financial damage. Policies like zero trust, which stems from the philosophy of “trust nothing, verify everything,” help maintain a secure infrastructure for organisations by continuously monitoring how users use data. As an example, the zero-trust model requires strict verification for every device or user that attempts to access a network, and allows access to documents and platforms only on a need-to-know basis, so that even internally, network resources remain inaccessible by default.

How can companies go about implementing data security policies?

The first key step to implementing strong security policies, such as zero trust, is evaluating your current security measures to identify weaknesses and understand what sensitive assets require protection. A change of thinking and comprehensive assessment of your security posture, policies, processes, and technology will identify gaps and weaknesses within your business.

  • Clear objectives around security policies, coupled with goals and a firm timeline for implementation, should be established company-wide. This will require effort and training to convert company culture and processes, build new skills, and create a security mindset throughout your organisation.
  • Creating layers of checks and balances, such as authentication, authorisation, and verification, will help protect accounts from attackers who may gain access to stolen passwords. AI-powered tools can also detect unusual activity and alert IT staff to any indicators for examination.
  • Monitoring the progress of implementing data security policies is important in strengthening any platform. Compiling progress reports will pinpoint current behaviours and systems that may need future improvement. Continuous growth and ongoing assessment, adaptation, and education will also allow your organisation to stay ahead of evolving threats.
  • Many data breaches occur due to vulnerabilities in outdated software. Implementing a robust system for regularly updating and patching software across all devices and systems within the company’s network can significantly reduce the risk of exploitation by cyberattackers. Additionally, conducting regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing can help identify and address any potential weaknesses before they can be exploited.
  • Encryption is a fundamental tool for protecting sensitive information from unauthorised access. Implementing strong encryption protocols ensures that even if data is intercepted or stolen, it remains unintelligible to anyone without the proper decryption keys. This practice should be applied not only to data stored on servers or in databases but also to data transmitted between devices and systems within the company’s network.

The threat of malware and attackers trying to gain access to sensitive data will not disappear anytime soon. Over half (54%) of those surveyed in the Veritas 2023 Global Data Risk Management Report are more likely to say the level of data security risk has increased, rather than decreased, over the past 12 months. To ensure cybersecurity, organisations should proactively update and adapt to new data security policies that will lower their risk of breaches without sacrificing their business operations.