Awareness and concern about identity theft, data breaches, and the loss of personal privacy have never been higher. Customers, as well as employees, are rightfully demanding their data be protected. The government and certain industries have also instituted higher than ever penalties when sensitive data is leaked or exposed. While the costs of data breaches skyrocket, the challenge of keeping data safe in an ever-changing digital environment also soars. Criminals and hackers are not the only instigators of data loss. Well-intentioned employees can also be culprits in exposing high-risk, sensitive data if they lack the knowledge, tools, and awareness to prioritize privacy and security.
What are your digital assets?
A proactive approach to asset protection can both protect your assets from loss as well as streamline data management in day-to-day activities. First, it’s essential to identify your digital assets. These processes are equally valuable for individuals auditing their personal finances or business leaders bolstering protection of a company’s digital assets. These assets may include:
- Important Identification Information
- State-issued identification cards and/or numbers
- Driver’s license numbers
- Passport numbers
- Credit history
- Contact information (i.e. address, phone number, email)
- Financial data
- Health and insurance information
- Employment information
- Internal communication
To protect digital assets, it is essential that their location and relationship to other databases is known and documented. An inventory of assets, locations, and protections should become part of a routine intended to proactively protect data.
How to protect them?
Physical security of data assets is largely ignored and may be the most common weak link to major personal data losses. In short, don’t carry portable devices that hold unsecured, sensitive data. Appoint a member of your IT department or establish a team to serve as “Physical Security Manager”. This role oversees technology distribution as well as the development of policies and procedures to maintain the physical security of assets. Small changes can make a large difference. Escort and supervise guests in an around areas of sensitive data. Schedule routine checks and updates for passwords and lock screens. Reconsider labeling file cabinets, rooms, folders, or laptops in ways that make them visible targets for a data thief.
Additional proactive security strategies include:
- Encryption of e-mails and other company files
- Digital rights management (DRM) to prevent redistribution of digital media
- Data loss prevention software
- Thorough backups of data stored in multiple, secure locations
At Secure Data, we routinely hear from customers after they’ve suffered a massive data loss. They’ve lost time and hard work. What qualifies as a digital asset seems to become most clear when individuals lose these assets. Prevention is key to minimizing the damage of data losses or breaches. If you have other tips on how to proactively protect digital assets, we’d love to hear them. Respond here or tweet us @securedata.