As businesses and government organizations shift a growing amount of their operations online, data security has become an increasingly important issue. In 2022, the number of major data breaches only grew. DoorDash experienced a breach that affected 4.9 million people, exposing the personal information of customers, workers, and merchants. Australian telecom company Optus also suffered a massive data breach affecting 9.7 million customers and leaking a significant amount of personal information.
Data breaches have legal, financial, and reputational consequences for the companies affected. According to a recent report by IBM, the average cost of a data breach in the United States is $9.44 million, around $5.09 million more than the global average. Costs vary per sector, with some industries, such as healthcare, being hit harder than others. Per IBM, a healthcare data breach could cost more than $10 million.
Time is of the essence when it comes to data breaches. Simply identifying and containing one more quickly can reduce the cost of a data breach by up to 30%. Having a properly tested and well-designed incident response plan can save organizations as much as $2.64 million in the event of a breach.
But how can businesses prevent breaches from happening in the first place? Robust security policies and the proper training and tools can greatly reduce the risk of a breach occurring in the first place.
Main Causes of Data Breaches
There are several attack vectors that a malicious party can use to access your organization’s data. These include:
- Phishing and other forms of social engineering
- Misconfigured services on your network
- Lost or stolen devices
- Zero-day breaches
- Third-party services being breached
Another major concern is insider threats, such as a disgruntled employees using their privileged access to steal company data before leaving.
A data breach is sometimes the result of a targeted attack, but this is not always the case. Often, rather than targeting a specific company, malicious actors are opportunistic. They’ll look for victims that haven’t updated vulnerable software, have code that’s vulnerable to SQL injection attacks, or simply have poorly trained staff that respond to phishing attempts.
Movies may have made hacking look glamorous and exciting, but when a company falls victim to ransomware, it’s more likely to have come from an intern opening a malicious attachment than it is a hacker having spent months probing the company’s firewalls to outsmart the systems administrator.
That’s why it’s so important to have a robust security policy that covers everything from regular software updates to strict firewall settings, role-based access control lists, and extensive training for all employees who use company equipment or connect their devices to the company network. No matter how secure a network may be, if users can plug in memory sticks or are accessing their personal emails from company devices, that creates risks that shouldn’t exist.
How to Prevent Large-Scale Data Breaches
Preventing data breaches requires a comprehensive approach that covers both the technical and human elements of security. For example, an organization may implement:
- Employee training to promote best practices
- Access control lists
- Security policies for data management
- Code audits
- Endpoint monitoring
- Data exfiltration monitoring
Security should be treated as an ongoing effort. Perform regular risk assessments. Review the policies and procedures that are in place to ensure they’re still relevant. Perform regular audits, both in-house and via external security companies, to ensure the policies are being followed as expected and no potential areas for security breaches have been missed.
Using third-party tools for threat monitoring and internal audits is a good starting point. For example, software such as Idera’s SQL Compliance Manager is a tamper-proof tool that can identify potential issues within SQL servers. The tool monitors user activity and watches for changes to data. It can create robust audit trails, giving you confidence the data is not being tampered with.
Integrating SQL Compliance Manager Tools
If an organization relies heavily on SQL databases for data, there’s a chance those databases have grown and evolved over time. How much is personally identifiable information (PII) in this database? Who has access to that database, not only customer service employees or others who access it through the front end but also people who have access to the underlying server?
SQL Compliance Manager is a tool that monitors a database and tracks changes to SQL server objects and data. If new users are granted privileges on the database or sensitive data is accessed in an unusual way, SQL Compliance Manager will send an alert. This helps security teams identify breaches promptly and take remedial action immediately, reducing the potential damage.
In addition to mitigating the damage caused by breaches, the tool can also help prevent them by scanning your database and recommending changes to the configuration that might improve its security. SQL Compliance Manager can identify PII fields and suggest changes to bring databases in line with HIPAA, PCI DSS, or other standards and regulatory requirements.
SQL databases are in use, and securing existing infrastructure is likely to be much more cost-effective and labor-efficient than investing in new infrastructure. SQL Compliance Manager sits on top of existing tools and helps improve security quickly.
Security Is an Ongoing Battle
Preventing security breaches is something every business should take seriously. The financial and reputational damage a breach can cause should not be underestimated. Securing company data requires a multi-pronged training, precautions, and monitoring approach. Tools such as Idera’s SQL Compliance Manager can be invaluable when it comes to securing your databases and helping you mitigate a breach should one occur.
Keep valuable business data safe and learn more about Idera’s security solutions.