Guest post by Prince Kapoor
No matter if you are managing a business or an application, solid security is not an option anymore. Businesses who consider security from the very start are able to make more reasonable decisions based on the sensitivity of the data involved. The type of data threats may change over the time, but the basics of data safety remain the same. This article will help you stop hackers from crashing your success party by providing some best practices when it comes to security.
These best practices handle the vulnerabilities that could affect your business. Moreover, they will also deal with how you can decrease the risk they impose. So read on!
Start with security:
From employee personal data to sensitive customer data, every part of your business holds some type of crucial information. You must start with security and include it in the decision making no matter which department you are talking about. By making a right strategy about which type of data you need to collect, how long will you need it, and who can access it, the risk of data compromise can be severely reduced. To that end,
Ask only relevant information:
Nobody can steal what you don’t have, right? So, when do you ask for your customer’s information? Most probably upon registration. When was the last time you analyzed the fields of your signup form? Are you asking for just the relevant information? Are you asking only that information that can help your business? If you are collecting unnecessary data, it will become more difficult for you to secure it. Always stick to the needed information.
Only keep the records as long as you need them:
It might be necessary to gather personal data from your customers, but keeping it once the deal is done is a bad idea. Not only will it violate the bank rules, but it will also pile up, increasing the responsibility to keep that data secure. The simplest way businesses can limit this risk is by safely disposing of this information as soon as the task is done.
Restrict access to sensitive data:
Now that you have decided to collect only the right data, the next step is to keep it secure. Of course, you want it safe from cyber criminals, but what about your own employees? Not everyone requires access to this sensitive data. If any of your employees doesn’t require this sensitive data, they don’t need to have access to it. Moreover, you must also restrict administrative access; not everyone should be able to make changes in your system. Make sure the admin access is provided only to responsible persons.
Impose strong authentication policies:
If you are dealing with sensitive customer data, it is a must for you to impose strong authentication policies. Strong password policies can ensure your data is accessed only by the authorized persons. Passwords like “123456” or “Password” are no better than no password at all. To that end, give some thought to your password policies. E.g. the social media giant Twitter allowed employees to use common dictionary passwords along with the passwords that are already being used by other accounts. This practice left the system vulnerable to hackers. But Twitter could have easily reduced the risk by imposing stronger password policies.
Moreover, once the user has created the password, it is your responsibility to store it securely. Storing credentials in plain text will make it easier for hackers to get access to it. The risk can be easily avoided by using password encryption policies.
Along with this, two-factor authentication can also be a wise choice here. Two-factor authentication increases the difficulty to access user accounts by adding up a supplementary factor. This additional factor can be something you know (password, a pin), something you have (OTP) or something you are (voice recognition, fingerprint recognition, etc.). While implementing 2FA, even if the hackers have your password, without the additional factor, they won’t be able to access your accounts.
Secure data transmission:
Keeping your data safe within your system is a must-have. But, many times, you need to send that data somewhere else, too. To ensure security during storage and transmission, you need to adopt strong cryptography. This method may vary depending upon the information you collect, the way you collect it, and the way you process it. Based on the nature of your business, some of the popular methods include TLS/SSL (Transport Layer Security/Security Sockets Layer) encryption, iterative cryptographic hash, data-at-rest encryption, etc. But no matter which method you choose, it is always necessary to have a person responsible for implementing it. Make sure the designated employee understands how your business uses this data.
- Segment network and monitor access activities:
While designing your network, you should consider tools like firewalls which can help you segment the network. Segmenting the network limits the access between systems on your network. Not every system in your network needs to be inter-connected with the others. To help protect your sensitive data, you can house it in a different place on your network which is more secure.
Another way is to use intrusion detection and prevention tools to keep a check on malicious activities. An effective intrusion detection tool asks one question whenever it detects unauthorized activity; this question is “Who’s knocking on my door?” These tools analyze access activities and prevent unauthorized users from getting into your account.
In brief, security is no longer optional. In a world full of cyber criminals, if you are not taking proper measures, you are letting hackers crash your success party. Are you ready for that? If not, start taking the proper security actions right now!