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Security Awareness: 10 Data Security Best Practices Your Workforce Should Know

The digital world is the main hub for day-to-day operations and connectivity for most businesses. With the increased reliance on technology, it’s important to have sufficient data security measures and controls. It’s also critical to improve security awareness amongst employees.

The importance of security awareness

Did you know that 95% of security breaches are caused by human error?

Security awareness should be up there as a key priority when adopting new technologies and digital processes. It’s important not just to assess security and data protection measures across your organisation, but to evaluate how aware your employees are of security best practices, processes and controls. It’s essential to educate yourself and your staff on how to securely work, connect and collaborate in the digital workplace.

This blog looks at the importance of security awareness and controls in the modern working world, and provides tips on how to educate your workforce on information security and data protection best practices.

Why security awareness is so important

With the rise of work-from-home policies, new technology and business digital transformations, data security is more important than ever. Experts estimate that a ransomware attack occurs every 11 seconds. The last thing you want to deal with right now is a data breach. 1 in every 250 corporate accounts are compromised each month, and the average cost of an attack for a business is growing 15% year-on-year.

The impact of a data security breach or cyber attack can be devastating, causing both financial and reputational damage. To reduce the risk of this occurring, it is imperative that companies make security awareness a part of their culture.

10 data security best practices to improve security awareness

1. Take extra precautions to secure confidential and sensitive information

Your business should have a classification policy for all resources and communications. Every document, email and message should be restricted and securely classified based on its sensitivity level and value, for example confidential, private or public.

2. Always back up your data in a secure location

If you do not regularly back up your data, you may lose it. Use a cloud backup system to securely store your data and access it from anywhere. Be sure to use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication methods to ensure greater data security and protection.

3. When disposing devices be sure to securely erase all information and data

Information that is not correctly disposed of could be recovered by a malicious user. Your company should use an accredited IT recycling to ensure end-of-life technology is disposed of in line with data security best practices. This ensures that all data is correctly erased and safely recycled. Any physical files of sensitive information should be kept secure and shredded when finished with. Moving to paperless processes and utilising the cloud is the best way to maintain robust data security.

4. Ensure that private data can only be accessed by those who are authorised

You should have policies in place to ensure that certain information is only viewable by those who have permission to use it. This prevents non-compliance with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and potential internal threats. By minimising those who have access to data in the first place, you’re minimising the overall risk of a data breach.

5. When sending and storing confidential information, do it securely

Sending confidential data over the internet or to a hard drive without encryption means that data has not been sent securely. Become aware of the policies in place when sending and receiving private information. Ensure that all sensitive and confidential data is sent using encrypted files to protect against data theft.

6. Only access your company data via secure networks

Remote/hybrid workers are able to access company information via any internet connection. Unsecure networks such as public Wi-Fi points are a hackers workshop. Cyber criminals use these networks to access your private information when you connect your device to the same public Wi-Fi point.

7. Be aware of social engineering tactics

Social engineering should be at the heart of any security awareness training. Cyber criminals use social engineering tactics to manipulate you into giving out private information. Email phishing scams are a popular method of social engineering. Hackers pose as a trusted source – for example a friend or co-worker – and send malicious links or attachments that contain harmful malware. So be sceptical and vigilant when receiving something unfamiliar.

Learn more about social engineering in our blog: What is social engineering and what are the red flags?

8. Don’t just focus on security awareness at work – be cautious at home too

It’s just as essential to practice good information and data security habits at home as it is at work. Ensure all your devices have strong passwords and multi-factor authentication (MFA) where possible. Never leave your devices unlocked when unattended, and never connect to unsecure networks.

9. Deleted data is recoverable – use data wipe programs

Simply deleting confidential information from your devices is often not enough to remove it entirely. The data may invisibly remain somewhere on the device without you knowing. Data erasure programs ensure that all private information is deleted by overwriting files so they cannot be recovered.

10. Consider a trusted IT partner

Your business could benefit from aligning with a trusted IT partner to deliver security awareness training and implement data security best practices. An extension to your internal IT teams, a managed service provider will proactively monitor your IT environment to keep your business secure and IT efficient. This enables you to focus on what matters most, and not worry about the data security awareness, processes and controls.

Helping you enhance security awareness in your business

The 848 Group is a reliable IT partner and trusted managed service provider. 848 has a dedicated security practice with a team of security experts who design tailored information and data security strategies that improve data protection and security awareness.

If you’re concerned about security awareness in your business, or haven’t reviewed your data security practices in a while, then get in touch with 848. We provide security assessment to help you understand your level of protection against cyber attacks, uncover data security weaknesses, and identify cyber risks in your infrastructure.