2023 saw a lot of data breaches and cyber threats in the public eye, showing that the need for robust data security strategies is critical. Even if you have an IT team, there are essential practices you can implement to assist them in protecting your organisation’s data. The human firewall ensures an understanding of the importance of data security from top to bottom, preventing breaches where they occur the most – 95% of data breaches start with social engineering or human error.

Understanding data security

Understanding the importance of data safety, should be a top priority. The last few years saw data breaches and cyber threats become increasingly common, and the need for robust data security strategies in 2024 is critical. The consequences of a data breach are far-reaching, involving not just financial losses but also damage to reputation, loss of customer trust, and potential legal issues. Data security measures should not be looked at as a regulatory compliance requirement but as a crucial practice that should be part of daily operations.  

It’s worth asking the question of your data and security teams; “What are we doing to secure our data?”

Employee cyber security awareness training  

Employees are the first line of defence against most cyber threats. Most examples of data breaches caused by human error are phishing and vishing. Regular training and data security awareness programs are essential to equip them with the necessary skills to identify and prevent phishing and other security breaches. Understanding the tactics used in phishing attempts, such as our ‘Scan for S.C.A.M’ program, and being aware of social engineering tactics are a valuable skill. A well-informed workforce is a significant first asset in the fight against cyber threats.  

Incident response planning  

Do you have an incident response plan? It’s a critical component of any data security strategy. The plan should outline clear procedures for dealing with security incidents and who should be contacted first when a breach is detected.  There are many resources on the ACSC website to assist with preparing your plan – the key steps include preparation, identification of the threat, containment of the breach, eradication of the cause, recovery of affected systems, and learning from the incident. Regular updates to the plan ensure that the organisation is always prepared for a cyber incident. Get more of the teams involved so that it’s not a secret – knowing who to go to can speed up recovery.

Regular security audits and assessments

Organisations should regularly conduct security audits and assessments to identify risks and gaps in their security. Penetration testing can be done to explore potential weaknesses, vulnerability assessments are to evaluate the susceptibility of systems to breaches, and risk assessments to understand the potential impact of security threats. Even if you don’t have a dedicated cyber team, having a ‘cyber champion’ on the IT team that can proactively organise these discussions is a great first step.

Creating a culture of security awareness  

Developing a positive culture of security awareness goes beyond implementing policies and procedures. It involves engaging everyone, from management to individual employees, in security awareness practices. Fostering a positive culture of security into daily operations and maintaining an open dialogue about security issues are key. This culture not only enhances the organisation's security but also reinforces its overall resilience against cyber threats.

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