4 easy ways to augment data protection in the workplace

November 25th 2013

As the threat landscape evolves, organizations of all sizes around the world need to consider upping their game. Fortunately, the process of improving data protection initiatives doesn't need to be as difficult as many companies make it to be. In fact, there are a number of simple things that business leaders can do to improve their ability to defend against malicious outsiders and negligent insiders who have the potential to expose confidential resources.

1. Encourage regular updates
Employees are the lifeblood of every organization, but they can also be a major risk, especially when they leverage outdated applications and solutions. Today's cybercriminals have developed advanced tactics that can compromise many conventional security practices, particularly when those strategies are antiquated.

Business leaders should encourage employees to regularly check for updates on all anti-virus software, malware detection tools and other security services. Executives should also educate the workforce on the importance of renewing computer, smartphone and tablet operating systems, as outdated tools can act as a gateway for outsiders.

2. Strengthen online passwords
While pundits and industry analysts often speak about the complexities that go into cybercrime, one of the best ways to keep unauthorized users away from sensitive assets is to develop robust passwords. Experts often say that log-in credentials should be long and consist of multiple characters. This is a good practice, as it makes it more difficult for outsiders to guess passcodes, but can put a burden on employees who are charged with remembering multiple identification secrets.

The good news is that long passwords, regardless of their mix of characters, can be an effective method for keeping out unauthorized users. Business leaders should encourage employees to use phrases and even sentences that are easy to remember but hard to guess.

3. Restrict poor USB practices
Portable storage devices, while not talked about often, are one of the leading causes behind data breaches. This is either because employees will take USBs and other devices home without permission and either lose the sticks or use the data on the endpoints for malicious purposes. One of the best ways to cut down on this type of risk is to simply prevent individuals from taking home confidential information. While executives cannot necessarily guarantee that users will not take these devices out of the office, managers should have a policy in place that clearly defines the repercussions associated with doing so.

4. Launch company-wide training sessions
Among the many ways to improve information protection initiatives, raising awareness is among the most effective methods. After all, a knowledgeable workforce is more likely to avoid risky operations that could lead to a breach. There are multiple ways to deploy training programs, including working with a trusted IT services provider or simply having the IT department teach employees best practices and common missteps. Business leaders should find this process works for them.

While the threat landscape is considered highly complex, there are a number of simple ways to cut down risk in the workplace. Taking these approaches can improve a company's overall security stance without causing too much inner turmoil.