Five warning signs you are at risk of a data breach

Data breaches are one of the biggest threat to organisations today. They can bring operations to a grinding halt, drastically damage your reputation and your relationship with customers, and cause severe financial losses from lost sales, remediation and repair costs, and regulatory fines.

Since the introduction of the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) a year ago, protecting personal data and the implications of a breach have become even greater concerns. But what puts an organisation at risk?

There are a number of warning signs to look out for – here are five of the most important.

You have not mapped data flows

In order to effectively protect against data breaches, you need to understand and control how data flows throughout your organisation. Data flow mapping tools, which simplify how you map data flows, can help you identify and resolve data protection issues quickly and cost-effectively – ultimately reducing the risk of a breach.

Lack of staff awareness or a training program

The vast majority of cyber incidents are due to human error and carelessness – from the misconfiguration of a security tool, to clicking a malicious link in an email. You can help mitigate the risk of such incidents occurring by taking a comprehensive, dynamic approach to staff training and awareness. Remember – to build a robust approach to data protection, it needs to be embedded in workplace culture, with every employee aware of their role.

Your workplace culture needs to dictate the gravity of data protection and the part every individual plays in ensuring it.

You don’t fully understand your risk and compliance posture

Fully understanding your organisation’s risk posture and compliance status with key legal and regulatory frameworks is essential. Compliance with regulations such as the GDPR is not a foolproof way of preventing a data breach, but it certainly goes a long way towards mitigating the risk. However, if you don’t know whether you are fully compliant or where the gaps lie, you’re working in the dark. This is why it’s so important to have comprehensive visibility over your entire IT infrastructure, and to undertake gap analyses to ascertain how compliant you are with key data protection regulations.

Your policies are all style, no substance

Plenty of organisations have well-documented and carefully thought-out data protection and cyber security policies. After all, these policies are key for demonstrating compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks, establishing your risk posture and understanding how your business is organised. However, they mean very little if they are not enforced and backed up by robust technical controls and businesses processes. In other words, your data protection policies need to have substance.

Your risk assessments are static, not dynamic

Protecting against data breaches is not something you can do once a year and then forget about. Even if you have achieved compliance with every regulatory framework you are subject to, trained every staff member to recognize malicious emails, and deployed the latest cyber security tools and technologies, the threat landscape will continue to evolve. You need to take a dynamic approach to data protection and continually examine your risk posture.

Nicholas King || Security Boulevard