tips for cost-effective data security

Tips for Cost-Effective Data Security

When it comes to data security, there is no shortage of tools and strategies to invest in. The major challenge for businesses is determining which data security solutions deliver the best bang for the buck.

The following strategies can help to achieve data security without breaking the bank.

Don’t Store What You Don’t Need

Perhaps the most basic rule of data security — and the most cost-effective policy to implement — is to avoid storing data that is not necessary to your business.

The more data you store, the higher the chance that attackers will find it and exploit it. Even if you have the space to store extra data, resist the temptation to keep it unless you have a true need for it.

Instead, determine which data is crucial for your business, as well as how long you need to keep it. Then design a data retention policy that meets those goals.

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Encrypt Using Open Source Tools

There are a variety of open source tools, such as VeraCrypt and AES Crypt, that can encrypt data at rest. They’re free or low-cost. Taking advantage of these tools is an inexpensive way to add a layer of protection to your data.

For in-motion data, use tools like OpenSSH, OpenVPN, and other network encryption platforms to protect your data from intruders as it moves across your networks.

Apply Software Updates

Software updates are almost always free. They’re also usually pretty easy to install. In most cases, in fact, you can automate software updates by having your PCs and servers install them automatically on a routine basis.

Yet despite this, many people still fail to keep software up-to-date. This failure creates security risks because applications that are not updated may have unpatched security flaws that attackers can exploit.

Don’t cut corners when it comes to updates. They’ll keep your data safer, and your applications just might perform better, too.

Minimize Exposure to the Internet

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If data does not need to be exposed to the internet, don’t expose it to the internet.

The principle here is similar to the policy of not storing data unnecessarily, which was described above. The less of your data that can be accessed through the internet, the lower the risk that someone will exploit it.

Today, of course, it is often impossible to avoid exposing data to the internet. But even if you do have to put data on the network, do it in a way that minimizes exposure to the public internet. Keep your databases behind firewalls, or require users to log in to multiple servers before they reach critical databases. Steps like these won’t prevent attacks, but they’ll make it harder for attackers to get to your data.

Back Up Regularly

Building a backup system requires some investment of time and money. You need infrastructure on which to store data backups, and you need to develop processes for backing up and — equally important — restoring data.

The investment in data backup is quite affordable when you consider how much a lack of backups can cost you in the event that you suffer, say, a ransomware attack. Ransomware attacks, which are on the rise, cost small companies around $100,000 per incident.

If you create regular data backups, your risk of damages due to a ransomware attack is low because you can recover quickly without paying the ransom.

Conclusion

No data security strategy can guarantee complete immunity to attacks, but the practices described above will significantly improve your security without costing you much — and in business, that’s what it’s all about.

To learn even more about the state of data security in organizations today, read Syncsort’s full “State of Resilience“ report.

Christopher Tozzi

Authored by Christopher Tozzi

Christopher Tozzi has written about emerging technologies for a decade. His latest book, For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution, is forthcoming with MIT Press in July 2017.
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