Internal Data Security: Best Practices for Safeguarding Secrets

Internal Data Security: Best Practices for Safeguarding Secrets

This article was updated on September 21, 2018.

As a small to midsize business (SMB), one of the biggest threats to your data may be your own employees. Whether these internal compromises occur accidentally or due to malicious intent, the end result is still just as dangerous. That's why it's crucial that you put internal data security policies into place.

Here are four best practices to help you safeguard your business information:

Assess the Situation

Organizations are advised to run risk assessments regularly. If your staff members do not have the appropriate skills, consider hiring an outside firm. By taking this initiative, you can take some of the strain off your internal IT staff and reveal potential security holes — such as the ability to access your network through third-party devices or cloud-based applications — that internal processes haven't discovered.

Double Down

It's worth doubling down on security with two-factor authentication. In this type of process, users are asked to supply the usual credentials (such as their employee ID and password) as well as a one-time code, typically sent to their mobile devices.

This type of authentication model provides SMBs with a few different types of benefits. First, this process makes it harder for employees to share login credentials, in turn lowering the chances of accidental compromise if employees forget to log off or shut down their computers. Two-factor authentication also makes it easier for you to track specific login attempts, allowing the process of investigating and remediating potential data fraud to be much less time consuming.

Go Big and Small

As noted by Dark Reading, it's important for your entire staff to "buy in" when it comes to internal data security. This means that the whole team — from management to IT to front-line employees — should take responsibility for avoiding spam emails, regularly changing their passwords and downloading only approved third-party apps onto mobile devices and workstations. But it's just as critical to go small and leverage security tools that let you control the amount of access given to each employee.

Your best bet is to restrict an individual's access solely to the information they need to see to be able to work on a specific task. When employees complete a project or are no longer assigned to the associated team, you should immediately change their access profile. The same goes for management: Executives with access to everything pose a significant risk if their accounts are compromised or they inadvertently expose business networks.

Prepare a Long-Arm Response

Last but not least, you must have a process for handling security threats if something gets past your defenses. While it's a good idea to outsource at least some of your security to a trusted third party that can provide on-demand responses, it's also worth investing in remote wiping tools that can reach mobile devices regardless of their physical location. With so many SMBs now favoring mobile options over traditional desktops, this "long arm" is now a necessity.

By following these steps, you can help ensure that you have a powerful internal data security program in place.