How to Prevent Data Theft

One of the main issues that concerns businesses and individuals these days is that of data theft. It can be costly and traumatic to be on the receiving end of such a crime. There are, however, a number of ways to stop this from occuring and it is worth looking at these.

Data Theft

IT security is a major concern for business as statistics continue to show an increase in data theft incidences. The rate of stolen data is actually higher than what is reported, simply due to the fact that the theft often goes undetected. There are a number of safeguards that IT professionals can utilise to prevent data theft.

The three major categories businesses must protect their information from are employees, hackers and contractors. There have been several reported incidences where a company’s employees have been able to use their internal knowledge regarding the network, to gain access to the system externally. Therefore, it is of critical importance to evaluate IT security from two different vantage points, which are internal and external network security. This is the best way to ensure a comprehensive approach to IT security.

Internal Network Data Theft

There is an assortment of information ranging from financial data to personnel job records, that need to be kept in secure network files. In many cases, this data can be easily accessed without going through firewalls, password verifiers or any form of database security. If an employee has been granted access to certain network files, they can be easily removed from the network utilising a variety of methods, such as saving the data to a flashdrive or burning it on to a CD. In order to make network data more secure, the extraction process will require more stringent security measures.

Granting Account Access

Several businesses employ very liberal policies regarding granting account access to network files. Different departments may be granted access to the same files, which should not be allowed to happen. All network computer files will need to be compartmentalized, and employees should only be granted access to data pertaining to their specific department. Encryption methods must be utilised on file servers, and the associated folders will need to be concealed from employees that should not have access.

Restricting Copying

Limiting employee access is one component of securing network data, but restricting copying is another step in safeguarding computer data. Saving files to an external drive is among the highest causes of data theft and places all ports at risk. This is a very discreet way to steal computer date, undetected. It is possible to disable USB ports manually or by utilising special software that blocks open ports. Another viable option is to turn of CD burners on network computers.

Preventing External Data Theft

It is essential that there is a firewall in place as well as network address translation, which separates sensitive data from external users. All network servers must have an internal IP address. The most common security breeches pertain to Exchange/Email, web and SQL servers,VPN and unsecured wireless networks. There are a number of ways to secure ExchangeEmail servers.

The use of virtual exchange or proxy servers will mitigate data theft. Co-located web servers, which are located off the network, will protect sensitive data if the network is invaded by hackers. And VPN is critical for all business networks. IT professionals employ a diverse range of methods to secure business networks

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