Manage Data Risk Like a Pro (+4 Ways You May Be Exposed)

April 9, 2022

It may seem like every time you turn on the news there’s another story about a major company or government entity being hacked. But large entities aren’t the only ones affected. Although it may not make headlines, many small businesses fall victim to cybercrime, as well. According to a report from 2019, 43% of data breaches involved small businesses. Unfortunately, many small businesses are not adequately prepared to deal with the threat.

This is why every company, whether it’s a multinational corporation or a small accounting firm, needs someone who understands data risk and how to manage it.

The term data risk is used to describe the amount of potential danger your computer network is facing from those who will try to access your networks. Your data risk is affected by the quality of your data security plan, how effective your company is at managing the types of data being introduced into your system, and how well you employees implement the data management plan.

Data risk management is a vital part of every business plan. The risks associated with a breach in your network can be devastating to both your budget and your reputation.

In many cases, data risk management comes in the form of skilled IT security professionals who know how to repel cyber-attacks and help you repair the damage done by one. Most importantly, they help develop a solid plan for network security and train your employees how to implement it.

Why Is Data Risk Management So Important?‌

Experts acknowledge that earning and maintaining trust is a critical component of the digital economy. In order to earn and keep the trust of employees and customers, companies must minimize their data risk.

Compromised data storage or malware or ransomware attacks are not only detrimental to a business’s reputation, they also cause financial hardship. Aside from the obvious cost of paying to resolve a ransomware attack, which is the only viable option in some scenarios, there are many other potential financial losses from a cyber-attack. These include:

  • The cost of repairing or replacing any hardware or software damaged in the attack
  • Increased labor costs as time and energy are spent trying to repair the damage
  • Legal fees and regulatory fines levied against your company for the loss of privacy or leaked proprietary information
  • The loss of revenue due to downtime for both your employees and your network
  • Loss of productivity after the attack is resolved due to low morale and loss of continuity

Considering how expensive it is to recover from a cyberattack, a high-quality data risk assessment and avoidance plan is worth the cost.

4 Ways Your Data May Be Exposed

Hackers are creative. There are many potential ways for your data storage system to be breached. However, there are some common vulnerable areas that increase your data risk. Here are four ways your data may be exposed:

1. Outdated Software

Effective cyber security depends, in large part, on effective security software. However, software can only protect your network if it’s able to recognize and deter the common threats. Software that was updated a year ago is not likely to protect your company from the new technology and techniques being used by cybercriminals today. For the same reasons, tags on apps and websites as well as integrations should be kept relevant and up to date.

2. Employee-Based Issues

Although some companies face the threat of breaches by their own employees, far more often the threat from employees comes in the form of ignorance or apathy. With more employees choosing to work remotely, there is a greater risk than ever that a mishandled computer or mobile device may give a hacker access to the network.

3. Password Issues

Passwords are the first line of defense against cyberattacks. If your employees are not choosing secure passwords, are writing them down or saving them on a computer instead of remembering them, or don’t change them on a regular basis, your secure data may be at greater risk.

4. Poor IT Support

Your IT support team, whether in-house or outsourced, should be attentive to these issues. It’s their job to ensure that all software is updated as often as needed to prevent incursions.

It’s also their responsibility to train your employees on how to avoid the most common mistakes and make sure they understand the importance of strong, secure passwords.

Your IT team should also be available 24/7 to answer questions about network security or to begin to repair the damage if a breach in security does occur.

How to Manage Data Security

There are ways you can strengthen your network security and reduce your data risk.

Have a Complete Data Management Strategy

Any complete data risk management plan should cover every area of potential risk. Your plan should include keeping all software up-to-date and determining how often employees should be trained on their responsibilities as far as data security is concerned.

Your data management strategy should have detailed instructions on how to screen emails for threats. Also, it should include an incident plan that details the actions and responsibilities of every employee in the event of a breach.

Screen All Employees, Visitors and Vendors

Anyone who has physical or virtual access to your network presents a potential danger to the security of your data. All employees need to be vetted to determine if they present a risk.

Anyone who enters your facilities should also be screened to ensure their identity and that they are not carrying any device that could be used to access your network.

Give Data Security Proper Attention

Data risk management is a big responsibility that requires a lot of attention. In a large corporation, a team of IT professionals may be needed to do the job well. For smaller companies or those who can’t afford a full-time IT professional, the use of cyber security firms is a good way to get the protection you need.

In the digital age, a data breach or cyberattack may seem inevitable. The best way to prevent a data breach — or to minimize the damage after it happens — is to have an effective data risk management plan in place.