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13 Data security mistakes to avoid

21 March 2017
Bram Nawijn

A lot of us take data for granted. We know it’s out there, but we often don’t think about it. We sometimes think even less about the security of that data, unless we have been the victim of an attack. Data security experts agree that that mindset needs to change. All employees, no matter their role or level in the company, need to be aware of and vigilant about data security.

13 Mistakes in data security

In order to avoid many of the problems that other companies have had, you can learn from their mistakes.

1. Lack of an Information Security Plan

Some companies do not have plans when it comes to data security. This is a major misstep, as leaders from the top down should be involved in creating a plan to handle data security matters in the present and in the future.

2. Only viewing data security as an IT issue

When thinking about technology and data, some employees and leaders might think it is only an issue for IT people. This can be a slippery slope. While IT people will naturally have the most knowledge about data security, thinking that they are not responsible can lead them to become careless. If they think someone else is in control of it, then they probably will not bother thinking about it. This kind of thinking can lead to a lot of mistakes.

3. Relying on firewalls, antivirus and anti-malware software

Many products can give companies and employees a false sense of security. If you find yourself relying too much on products like firewalls and security software, then you’re probably vulnerable to some kind of security breach. Those products are not 100% safe.

4. Inadequate training of employees and other users of your data

Everyone who comes in contact with your data has to be trained on how to keep it safe. That means everyone: every employee, every user, every business partner, every client, and every company in your service network. They must all know what data security standards you have and they must meet or exceed them, otherwise, your data is at risk.

5. Not knowing where your data is

Many companies may not host all their data in-house. That means that someone else is responsible for it. You need to know where your data is hosted, how long it will stay there, if it will be moved, where it will be moved to, and what laws and regulations are in place to protect that data. Before you choose a host for your data, you should know everything you can about how that company does business.

6. Lack of knowledge into various encryption types

Not all encryption is created equal. Not all of it has been lab tested and approved by governments and various security agencies around the world. Make sure you know what kind of encryption the various users in your data network use before you trust them with your data.

7. Business plans that lack security

If your business plan does not include data security, start over. All companies need to make sure that they have plans for their current data security system as well as their future one.


Also read: The Fundamentals of Machine Learning [whitepaper]


8. Transferring unencrypted and encrypted data

People nowadays often work outside the office. They have to work from home or have to do a lot of traveling. So then what do they do, they transfer data between their devices. Even if you protect your data as much as you can, the risk is greater when employees transfer it to mobile phones, use it over home networks, or email it between various accounts. Make sure that employees know the safest ways to transfer data if they need to.

9. Poor password control

Passwords are one of the simplest ways of keeping your data safe. Companies that allow employees to reuse passwords or share passwords are setting themselves up for trouble. Passwords that are not changed often or that are too weak are also ways of creating more risk. You need to make sure that your company has strict policies about passwords and security, including multi-factor authentication.

10. Only having one solution

Sometimes companies work hard to put together a safety plan, but in the end, they only come up with one solution. To be safer, you need to have more. Not all problems are the same and to have only one solution leaves you scrambling if that one solution does not work.

11. Getting lazy and careless

If you don’t have any major issues with security or you have a solid plan in place, it can be easy to fall into a false sense of security. Not to sound like an alarmist, but once you stop talking about data security and making sure it is still an important topic in meetings, your risk starts to increase. People have short memories sometimes.

12. Assuming that employees care about security

You can’t just give employees a handbook and expect them to read it and care about your data security. You have to make sure how to show them how it is relevant to them, how it impacts their work and their jobs.

13. Forgetting about social engineering

Savvy people who want to get access to your data may not even try to access your data through technology. They may take the social approach and get information from the people who have it. Part of data security is training your employees on how to keep it safe using technology and how to keep it safe socially.

For the sake of your company

Data security is often not a fun topic for people. You don’t want to place huge restrictions on your employees, make it seem like you don’t trust them, or tell them the same thing over and over, but you might need to for the sake of your company and your employees.


Also read: The Fundamentals of Machine Learning [whitepaper]

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