A recent report from the Ponemon Institute found that one of the top security concerns for organizations across a range of sectors is data theft.
With data breaches being reported on a near-daily basis, it is becoming more important to protect against these events and ensure that sensitive business information does not fall into the wrong hands. Not only does this theft put the reputation of the company at stake, these instances can cost a significant amount in fines and investigation costs. Furthermore, if employee or customer personal information is compromised, this content could be used for fraudulent purposes by hackers.
Because the impact of a breach can go beyond the business itself, it is critical to understand the common causes of such events and how administrators can work to stop them.
Data theft study findings
In addition to confirming that data theft is still a top concern, the study discovered that many groups are still lacking the skills and security measures to effectively safeguard their information. In addition, many business leaders are not aware of the considerable effects a breach can have on the company.
“According to respondents, there is a gap between data breach perception and reality – specifically regarding the potential revenue loss to their business,” eWEEK contributor Nathan Eddy wrote. “Eighty percent of respondents say their company’s leaders do not equate losing confidential data with a potential loss of revenue.”
However, this is simply not the case. Following many large scale breaches – particularly those that receive media attention – an organization’s reputation takes a major hit. Not only that, but the group’s client base can temporarily, or permanently, shrink due to consumer fears about the firm’s security.
Top causes of data theft
To avoid these consequences, decision-makers should be aware of the main reasons why data theft happens and proactively work to mitigate these threats. Industry research shows that one of the top causes is the fact that authentication credentials being used are either weak and therefore easily guessed, or stolen through other means. However, this issue can be prevented by encouraging employees to leverage longer, more complex passwords and store their login credentials in a secure location.
Additionally, security holes connected to vulnerabilities in applications and other systems can also be an exploitable weak point for data thieves. Many breaches come as a result of malicious back doors installed in programs and brute-force attacks.
“Security teams have to use tools that sift through tens or hundreds of thousands of vulnerabilities continuously, finding the most likely attack routes and the vulnerabilities that need to be blocked to prevent the breach,” advised security expert Gidi Cohen.
Security tips for data theft prevention
However, there are several other strategies enterprises can leverage to better safeguard their sensitive business information and prevent data theft. One approach that can address vulnerabilities in programs is application whitelisting. Some resources are more prone to bugs and hacking than others, but administrators can block access to these programs through their application whitelist. By crafting an index of all software deemed unsafe or unnecessary for use, administrators can have better oversight of their technological assets and further prevent attacks.
In addition, computer monitoring software is another essential piece of the data theft prevention puzzle. This technology should be implemented on each office workstation, as well as mobile devices accessing the network or business content. Such a system can scan this hardware for infections or security weaknesses and alert managers so that steps can be taken to address the highlighted problems.
Decision-makers can also consider deploying system restore program like Faronics’ Deep Freeze. This component ensures that if workstation settings are changed by users or infections, the original configurations can be restored upon rebooting the system.