Learning how to keep your data safe is no longer a commodity but a dire necessity. After all, data is the most valuable currency of our time. It’s safe to assume that your private information is constantly under attack.
To fight back against the rise in global security breaches and imminent dangers. You weaponize yourself using the latest and most advanced antivirus on the market.
Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great move! But most of the time, it’s not enough. Think of it like installing a security system in your home while leaving the windows wide open all night.
It’s the same with your electronic devices. You can have the most advanced antivirus, but unknowingly leave your doors open for intruders.
Things like changing your passwords every 90 days or so is a no brainer. As well as, being wary of unexpected files and download links (yes, even if it doesn’t say virus in the file name!) is common knowledge by now.
But there’s more to keeping your data safe than those things. Everyday decisions and choices that seem harmless can make you vulnerable to data loss or theft.
When it comes to losing confidential data, like your financial information, it could spell out disaster in all caps!
To start off on the right foot. You should know the difference between a security risk and vulnerability. A security risk is a negative impact that results from exploiting an existing vulnerability in a system. A vulnerability without risk is hardly one at all.
In this post, I’ll go over the most common 3 vulnerabilities that you most likely aren’t aware of. We’ll also go over simple steps on how to handle them to keep your data safe.
Inconsistent or Low-Quality Data Back-up
There are many types of backup, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s focus on two.
So, whether you opt to backup your data using an external hard drive (EHD) or outsource the work to cloud services. You should know the potential risks in both cases.
When using an external drive, your data is safe form any type of remote access. As long as the drive isn’t connected to a device, your data is safe from a variety of cyberattacks.
Not to mention — as long as you have the EHD on you — you can access your data without needing an internet connection.
However! You should know that hard drives sometimes fail without any signs of warning. And that you’re responsible for the protection of your own data.
Not to mention, if identified as a storage point for information, the hard drive can become a primary target for theft.
Here’s how you can work around it:
· Keep Several Backups: If you only want to use external hard drives to backup your data. Make sure you make at least 2 or 3 copies on separate drives.
· Keep Each Drive in a Separate Location: It’s incredibly risky to keep all your backups in the same location. This also includes keeping them separate from the main device where you store your data
· Be Consistent: Your external hard drives aren’t going to update themselves. You need to follow a consistent schedule of updating their content.
· Regular Check Ups: As I mentioned before, hard drives can fail. Always keep an ear out for unusual noises like clicking or screeching when using the drive. Even a slight decrease in its running speed can be a warning sign that it’s time to invest in a new one
Another way is relying on a cloud computing service that stores your data online. Using a cloud to store and backup your data takes away a lot of your workload. Almost all services offer an automated update of data. They also take care of the security aspect, keep multiple copies, and allow you around-the-clock access.
It’s important to take into consideration the downsides of using a cloud to store your data. The fact that it’s always connected to the internet makes your data vulnerable to attacks at all times. Also, worrying about your service providers taking advantage of your data themselves is a valid concern nowadays.
Here’s how you can work around it:
- Don’t Play it Cheap: While money isn’t always a sign of quality. The price of a good security system that keeps your data safe doesn’t come cheap. Always invest in a service that covers your exact needs even if it costs you a little extra.
- Background Check: A fancy word for checking up on the service provider’s reputation. Go into depth of how they keep your data safe. And if you’re not tech-savvy? Ring them up! Ask questions until you understand their system and feel safe enough.
- Follow Up: Just because your service provider of choice started out on the right foot, doesn’t mean their quality can’t drop. Stay on top of things when it comes to any security breach, and don’t hesitate to leave if you feel that your data is no longer safe.
Each method has its ups and downs, and it’s up to you to decide what suits your needs best. And yes, that can be a mixture of both. A cloud service that updates your data and an external hard drive can be a match made in heaven in your case.
Poor Network segmentation
Network segmentation is basically splitting a computer network into subnetworks. With each network being a segment of the main one.
While network segmentation is useful in boosting performance, its main objective is improving the network’s security.
A traditional flat network connects all devices together in a local network (LAN), even ones that don’t need to be directly connected. A network is protected by a firewall. A breach in the firewall gives the intruder access to the devices connected to this particular network.
In a company, If the network isn’t segmented, a potential cyberattack allows the hacker access to all the devices in the network. Not to mention, the sheer size and complexity of a non-segmented network! Making it harder to follow up on the attack and provide suitable damage control.
Network segmentation isn’t a new method by any means. It’s been used for years to cut down on the number of cyberattacks and increase the general level of security. But the process of segmenting a network isn’t as simple as randomly chopping and grouping devices to create a subnetwork.
Effective segmentation relies on its implementation and long-term maintenance. After segmenting a network, each section is then isolated. Preventing direct access to data in the system while providing areas with as little communication as possible.
The bigger the company, and the more sensitive information it has, the smaller the segments are. Small segments are called Micro-segments. Micro-segmentation can be used with public and private clouds, Physical networks and software-based networks.
The complex system needs constant maintenance for it to function well and protect the data in the network.
While network segmentation can feel like an extreme step when it comes to its main costs and follow-ups. It has many benefits that keep it well in use today:
- Effective Monitoring: It’s much easier to notice suspicious behavior and track it in a network when it’s divided into small parts.
- Stronger Security: When a network is split up, it’s easier and more cost-efficient to control protection. Concentrating it around sensitive information Instead of spreading it thin over the entire network.
- Damage Control: In case of a successful cyberattack, the damage is contained in one segment. This works as an extra layer of protection by leaving the remaining parts untouched.
- Easier Changes: Segmentation makes it much easier to install changes to specific parts of the network. If one part is compromised, it alone needs fixing, while the rest of the network functions normally.
The number of attacks networks face daily is on the rise. Companies need to catch up with the change to avoid compromising the safety of their data.
To this day, Network segmentation is one of the most effective cybersecurity measures a company can take to fight against cyberattacks.
General Lack of Cybersecurity Awareness
This whole vulnerability boils down to social engineering attacks. An attacker can use social engineering to manipulate unsuspecting people. Tricking them into doing things that could compromise sensitive information.
This is where human nature to trust people nice us comes to bite. Criminals often use social engineering because of its simplicity. It allows them to exploit people and receive confidential information directly.
Just because they have the word ‘attack’ in them, doesn’t mean they are as violent as other cyberattacks or viruses. Like the Structured Query Language Injection Attack (SQLI Attack.)
A social engineering attack can be disguised in the form of an email. from a friend or a person of authority. There are a few main elements that help point out a social engineering attack email from a normal one:
- It contains an unknown link.
- It contains a downloadable file.
- Displays a sense of urgency to follow the email’s instructions.
- Asks for sensitive information.
In 2018, TechTarget conducted a research on social engineering attacks. They sent over 3000 emails to employees. The emails either contained links or asked them for passwords via forums. The test succeeded in tricking 17% of participants whose actions compromised sensitive information.
While people have become more aware of the dangers of social engineering, it’s not enough.
A company needs to hold regular training exercises and seminars. This, in the long run, reduces the amount of data leaked unintentionally by the employees.
There are many cybersecurity vulnerabilities out there that everyone should be aware of. This post covers the most common 3 that threaten the data of both the average user and the small business owner.
But being up to date with these issues never ends. The methods to keep your data safe are evolving, but so are ways to bypass them. Both you and the company you entrust with your data should always be following up on the latest security measures.