5 Ways to Protect Your Data From Employees

Though new hire background checks are standard in many industries, the truth is that it can be difficult to predict whether specific employees pose a risk. A long list of internal security breaches at the most secure government agencies in the world prove that any business can fall victim.

Organizations must take basic steps to prevent loss of data due to intentional or accidental employee activities, as research shows that internal actions account for 43 percent of such incidents. While no method is 100 percent failproof, a comprehensive data security strategy can ensure that information is protected from all but the most sophisticated cyber-attacks.

These five prevention techniques lay the foundation for data security:

Allow Access to Information on a Need-to-Know Basis Only

No matter what business your company is in, your systems hold confidential data in one form or another. At the very least, your customer list contains personally identifiable information, such as names, addresses, email address and telephone numbers. Many times, customers’ payment information is saved to make future payments easier. However, in the wrong hands, all of these details can be used in fraud and identity theft schemes.

There is no need for every staff member to access this confidential data. After all, individuals responsible for product assembly do not handle customer service concerns. Secure sensitive information separately, then limit access to individuals who need the data to perform the functions of their job. This reduces the likelihood that it will fall into the wrong hands.

Restrict the Transfer of Information

In an effort to secure data from internal threats, high-quality software has been developed to prevent the transfer of information from company-approved storage to portable storage devices, such as flash drives. Additional software is capable of identifying situations in which sensitive information is uploaded to unapproved cloud storage or sent outside the company via email. These solutions are typically priced according to the number of users, making them affordable for small and medium-sized businesses.

Go Paperless

In addition to the environmental benefits, a paperless work environment makes data security simpler. There is no risk of sensitive information being left on a desk or in a printer, and there is no worry about disposing of discarded documents properly. The most advanced security methods depend on the assumption that confidential information is stored electronically. Take advantage of state-of-the-art technology to protect your files by eliminating hard copies.

Transition to Two-Factor Authentication

Often, internal data thieves attempt to gather unauthorized information using other employees’ credentials. This increases the importance of proper authentication. A single password, no matter how strong, is not enough to protect sensitive data. No matter how much training is provided, there are individuals who still write down or share passwords, making it easy for others to access their files.

Move your organization to a two-factor authentication system, which combines two out of three of the standard authentication factors: something you know (e.g. a password), something you have (e.g. a token) and something you are (e.g. fingerprint). New applications are available to turn mobile devices into tokens, and fingerprint technology is becoming standard on laptop computers and tablets. Combine these with the password process already in use for a stronger security system.

Provide Regular Training

Finally, fully train all staff members on data security and conduct refresher training as needed — particularly when a new threat is identified. Ensure each employee knows how to spot attempts to implement the most common data theft and destruction devices, such as viruses and ransomware, and create an action plan for handling any suspicious email or electronic activity.

Educate employees on the company’s acceptable use policy, and most important, have each person sign off on the data security procedures. This step inspires a sense of ownership and accountability in keeping data secure, encouraging staff members to exercise extreme care with confidential information.