With data and information being the most valuable asset in the world, how are you protecting your enterprise's digital footprint? In this blog, we review the types of information that need to be protected and how to protect your enterprise's sensitive information.
Sensitive enterprise information is any data or information that could be a risk to the company if it is stolen or released to a competitor or the public. This includes intellectual property, supplier records, cardholder information, credentials and unreleased trade agreements. This sensitive information can all be harmful to the business if it fell into an enemy’s hands. These are the most important and useful sources of information in your enterprise. Keep reading to see which specific categories need to be protected.
Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is the information necessary for an enterprise to identify their employees. This includes their birthdate, phone number, home address, identification number (ID) and financial or employment data.
A trade secret is an activity or practice that is unknown to external contacts and the public. Trade secrets give an enterprise an advantage over its competitors and are part of its internal research and development.
Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) is data or information that asks for safeguarding or dissemination systems that are relevant to laws, regulations and government policies. Examples of this, are export control information or materials, geodetic and geospatial information, controlled technical information and CUI registry categories.
Just like with ransomware attacks, enterprises can face extreme consequences when there has been a data breach with their sensitive information. For the business, the consequences of a data breach of sensitive information can go from minor to major. Similar to the 2014 Home Depot breach, companies may pay millions of dollars in damage repairs to customers and Financial institutions.
On top of the financial loss, a ruined reputation, and altered information can occur. Competitors or cyber criminals can use your information to their advantage and even falsely modify it. An increase of stress in the employees is also likely to happen. Hackers can open a line of credit under one's name and access all of their bank statements and revenue. Overall, every enterprise wants to avoid stolen data. The outcome of not protecting your data is spending millions of dollars and days trying to recover it, spending hours changing credentials, apologizing to shareholders and reaching out to clients regarding the issue.
Data protection starts from the moment data is created or collected. It needs to be protected from unauthorized access and modification. It is important for enterprises to remind their employees to be aware and follow the enterprise’s security policies and regulations. Should employees never disable or circumvent the security guidelines in place.
The classification of data helps determine the level of protection required. For example, can the information be shared with every employee? If not, than an additional layer of protection should be added. The best way to classify whether the information is sensitive, ask yourself one question. "Could it cause major harm to the enterprise if it was stolen or leaked?" If yes, then you know the answer. Reminding employees to promptly report any disclosure of sensitive information is a way to reduce risks.
When reaching for sensitive information, employees need to ensure that its confidentiality protected. The use of a strong password is crucial for their computer and network. Regardless of how long they leave their desk, they need to lock their screen immediately. In a matter of milliseconds, someone can corrupt the data. Lastly, it is important that each employee uses their own system and network applications. Even though sensitive information can't be shared in the office, opinions and thoughts can!
Communication is key in running a successful and trusted enterprise, but there comes caution with it. While sharing information with people in the company or even third parties, regardless of the communication setting, care must be taken. Only share sensitive information with authorized personnel. It is also important to limit the duplication of these files. Sending sensitive information by email or text is not ideal and employees should keep this in mind. A call is more suitable for this.
Leaving data in an accessible area is dangerous and should be avoided. At the end of the workday, it's the employees' responsibility to safely store sensitive information. There are also rules around the storage of sensitive information on portable devices. If employees follow them, this will help ensure safety and security.
What happens when an enterprise doesn’t need documents anymore and has old files sitting around? Some may think to put them in the garbage is just enough, but it’s not. Using a shredder or a locked recycling bin is the proper way to dispose of them. When you have files that no longer needed, it is important to permanently delete them from the storage devices. Also, information must only be disposed of at the end of its lifecycle. All of these steps are crucial for employees to take.
Sensitive information is important and needs to be protected. Assurance IT and TerraNova help enterprises limit their overall risk of cyber theft and help build their business continuity strategy. TerraNova has dozens of training solutions that train and create awareness of how sensitive information can be protected. Schedule a free consultation with us to speak with one of our experts to learn more about training options.
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