3 ways to test your business’ data security

It’s surprising how many businesses actively choose to test their business’ data security. Although firewalls, password protection, and encrypted files can help to minimise the risk of a data breach, these elements should be frequently tested to ensure they’re remaining effective.

As we know, choosing to ignore weaknesses in our data protection can result in severe breaches of customer and business data. To prevent these breaches, testing helps us to discover faults and fix them before a hacker reaches them.

Why do we need to test our data security?

Testing should be an important element of any business’ data protection processes. Not only does testing help to flag up areas of improvement, but it can also provide peace of mind. Being able to prove to your stakeholders that your practices are secure will improve trust and loyalty.

More than ever, people are concerned about the privacy of their data and how it is handled by companies. Customers are less likely to entrust their data with a business that has experienced a breach, so preventing one is essential. Tests and audits can provide that peace of mind to your customers and minimise risk to your reputation.

3 methods to test your data security:

1. Assess your staff

The main cause of data breaches within a business is often human error. Luckily, training and testing can help improve staff knowledge on data protection practice and reduce the risk of a breach. 

Hackers often try to take advantage of an individual’s good nature. Phishing emails are a good example, as a sender can claim to be a coworker and request access to data. Because we believe the email is genuine, we want to help out our colleagues and send them the information. Unfortunately, hackers have created sophisticated techniques to creating these emails, making it difficult to determine a scam from a genuine email.

An effective way to teach your staff not to be caught out by these phishing scams is through testing. We can test our data security by sending out fake phishing emails to staff requesting they send over restricted information. Once sent, businesses can see which members of staff fell for the scam, which deleted the email, and which reported it.

From this test, you can determine who needs more training on how to spot a phishing scam, and what to do when they receive one. Read Dashlane’s article on phishing tests to learn how to implement your email test.

2. Test business applications

Many businesses use customer portals and logins to sell their services and products. These systems allow for users to log in and access data from wherever they are and are common practice for many banks, online retail, and booking sites.

However, these systems can be vulnerable to attack when overloaded with requests. Denial of service attacks are instances where hackers attempt to shut down a network or system by flooding it with traffic. This prevents the intended users from accessing the network and although they often don’t result in stolen data, they can cause a huge inconvenience to users.

Your business applications should be tested regularly to determine the amount of traffic the system can handle. When your system is not in use, conduct your own flood attack to see what your system can withstand. From this, you can then discover how to improve the network to prevent future DOS attacks. 

Along with a traffic test, your business should also test what types of files can be uploaded to the system or network. Restricting the file types users can upload can help to prevent files containing malware from accessing your business data and causing a breach.  

3. Walk-through your facility

Not all data breaches occur digitally or online. Data can be infiltrated physically on our premises if staff are not mindful of where their physical data is kept. 

Printed documents, files, and post-it notes can be perfect opportunities for a passerby to gain access to a system. Although we may write down our logins to help us remember them, this physical data can easily be stolen. 

Conducting a walk-through of your office or facility can help to raise flaws in your physical data security, important elements to look out for are:

  • Areas of restricted access are kept locked.
  • Cameras are operational and monitored frequently.
  • Visitors to staff-only premises are signed-in.
  • Devices are logged off when not in use.

Regular testing is crucial

Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated every day. To ensure your business data security is keeping up with them, regular testing is crucial. 

It only takes one vulnerability for an individual to take advantage of and gain access to your business data, so ensure your data is secure at every level.

Audit your business’ data protection practices with our FREE Data Security Checklist.

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