Large data breaches continue to dominate headlines, revealing the need for business owners to be diligent about data usage, collection, storage and encryption. Huge brand names like Chipotle and Brooks Brothers are among those affected most recently, and even larger breaches of personal information have occurred through third-party vendors to brands like Verizon.

The best thing business owners can do is take a proactive rather than a reactive approach. By accounting for current data use, performing a data breach risk management audit, and implementing tailored control measures, business owners can take ownership of their sensitive data while reducing their risk of adverse incidents.

Read on to learn some of the most important steps for risk management when it comes to protecting sensitive data from cyber attacks.

Start With a Data Breach Risk Management Audit

Your first step is to identify any possible risks within your current system use. Identify all areas where sensitive data is captured, stored, transferred or otherwise handled in any way. Then, review the security measures put in place at each touch point.

Chances are good that such an audit can reveal vulnerabilities and critical gaps in your data protection strategy. By working with an experienced risk management firm in Nevada to obtain risk aversion and IT expertise, you can develop an actionable plan for patching up security gaps through a combination of tools, policy-setting and employee training.

Focus on Employee Training

Data shows that 60 percent of all cyber security breaches were the result of inside actors. A quarter of these — meaning 15 percent of all breaches — were the result of unintentional actions by employees. Furthermore, experts determined that 90 percent of all outside attacks resulted from an employee accidentally providing access information to hackers.

Put simply: employees are your biggest security risk when it comes to data breaches. Proper training and step-by-step protocols are needed to ensure 100 percent compliance with related systems and practices. By educating your employees about cyber security risks and, most importantly, teaching them how to recognize suspicious phishing schemes or activities, you can dramatically improve your internal defenses against data breaches.

Limit the Number of Touchpoints Where Sensitive Data Is Exposed

The Verizon-related breach mentioned above occurred because an employee accidentally stored logs on an unsecured server, which could be accessed by anyone who knew the server’s http address. The attack exposed thousands of people’s personally identifiable information (PII).

Limit the ability for employees to make such a mistake by implementing tiered access and administration privileges. Ensure that each employee only has abilities to access sensitive information when completely necessary. Also, encourage strong password practices, including having employees use an encrypted password manager system as opposed to simply writing the password down.

Be Diligent About Data Backup, Storage and Disposal

All data transfers should have the same level of security as the moment the data was captured. Develop a system for backing up only the most necessary data through encrypted files while properly and completely deleting all unneeded data.

Stay Up-to-Date With PCI and PII Industry Standard Data Protections

Industries all across the globe have recognized the growing risk of data breaches, so they have responded with minimum standards that greatly reduce the most common risks. For instance, all retailers, food service companies and other point-of-sale operators must ensure that they are using EMV chip processing and abiding by the latest Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards.

You can review your current technology usage, audit it for risks and implement best-fit measures by working with a risk management consultant in Nevada. Contact us today for a comprehensive set of risk management solutions as well as commercial insurance policies such as cyber liability that can help reduce the impact of breaches while lowering your overall exposure.