Every organization, from the smallest business to the largest corporation, has sensitive information. This can include employee information, client data, and even credit cards. Protecting that information from a data breach is not just vital to your business, but also to your clients. Many states have laws that require proper security measures to protect any sensitive data and prevent the leak of sensitive information.


Hackers and cyberattacks are a common source of security issues, but many breaches can come from employees. This doesn’t necessarily mean diabolical plans to overthrow an organization from the inside. In most cases, it comes down to accidents and simple human error. Learn more about how to avoid security breaches and employee interactions with sensitive data.


Employees and Sensitive Data


Employees have the ability to share information in the blink of an eye. Access to information combined with email, messaging, and file-sharing applications has unfortunately led to accidental data breaches in business. Even with best intentions and traditional security measures in place, employees at all levels can potentially contribute to security issues.


Leaks and security breaches can happen easily. It can start with an employee sending an unsecured file to other employees for review. Another employee may download and view that file on an unsecured device, which could open backdoor network security vulnerabilities. Or it could just be as simple as an employee accidentally sending a file to an employee or third-party who should not have access to that file.


File-sharing services are extremely convenient, but they can add another wrinkle to data leaks. Most file-sharing services synchronize files across all registered devices. Unfortunately, that also means an employee may accidentally place sensitive data into a shared folder without knowing all the people who have access to that folder, including people who shouldn’t see that information.


Preventing Employee Security Issues


With a few simple steps and policies, you can reduce the potential for security leaks and mitigate any harm that could come from a security issue.


Strong Passwords

One of the easiest steps to better security is maintaining strong passwords at every level, for every account. Implement strong passwords for all networks and inform your employees to do the same for their individual accounts. Hackers have numerous methods of cracking a password, from phishing to brute forcing with software. The stronger your password, the harder it will be for a hacker to crack.


Unfortunately, too many people still use default passwords, like simply “password” or “1234”. A hacker doesn’t even need any special software to figure those out. Make passwords at least 15 characters long, incorporating letters (lowercase and uppercase), numbers, and symbols. Avoid sequential numbers or letters that appear sequentially on the keyboard. Furthermore, use a different password for every separate application. If you use the same password for all of your accounts, a hacker can basically take control of your entire digital portfolio with just one hack.


To make things easier on yourself and your employees, consider using a password manager, which keeps track of your passwords for you. Most password managers also come with password generators to create random, complex, long passwords.


Above all, make sure that your employees aren’t sharing their login credentials with others.


Keep Only What You Need

Employees can’t share sensitive personal information if there isn’t much sensitive information to share in the first place. If you do not have a legitimate need for sensitive information, there is no reason to keep or store it. Only keep Social Security numbers, credit card information, and other sensitive data for as long as you need it. Keeping this information for longer than necessary just increases the risk of that information being stolen during a cybersecurity breach.


If you are required to keep that information by law or for business purposes, develop a policy that identifies the information that needs to be kept, how long to keep it, the best methods of securing that information, and how to eventually dispose of the information to lower security risk.


Limit Access

Managers and other upper-level employees likely need all the information available, but most employees can operate their daily tasks without needing access to all the sensitive information in the company hard drive. Limit access to data, giving employees enough information to do their jobs. If they do require access for a specific project, you can discuss it and create a policy that works to secure that information. Everything else should be on a need-to-know basis.


Provide Training

Train your employees and supervisors on proper data security procedures, the impacts of cyber attacks, and vulnerability management. Training should cover how to securely access and share information internally, how to prevent unauthorized access, and how to address potential information security breaches. Also, consider developing an incident response plan. 


So, if you’re wondering how to avoid security breaches, along with the above, make sure you maintain general security procedures to prevent any outside attacks from hackers and other cybercriminals. Consider partnering with managed security services, like a SOC team, to develop more comprehensive security policies for your organization. At MRC, we offer managed security services for your business needs, reach out to one of our representatives today!