The answer to “Which of the following are breach prevention best practices?” is using strong passwords, limiting user privileges, encrypting data, patching systems, training staff, and monitoring for threats.

To get a more in-depth understanding, keep reading!

Cybersecurity threats are on the rise. As businesses become more reliant on technology, they also become more vulnerable to cyber attacks that can lead to serious data breaches.

Implementing proper information security protocols is crucial for protecting your organization against cybercriminals. In this post, we’ll explore some of the top data breach prevention best practices.

Keep Software Updated

Person updating software on a computer

One of the simplest yet most important things you can do is keep all of your software up-to-date. This includes your operating system, apps, plugins, and drivers. Software companies regularly release patches to fix vulnerabilities as they are discovered. If you don’t install these updates in a timely manner, you leave open holes that hackers can exploit to gain access to your system. Set prompts so you are notified of available updates and make it a priority to implement them.

Use Strong Passwords

Weak passwords are one of the easiest ways for hackers to infiltrate your network. Avoid common words, phrases, or personal information when creating passwords. Instead, use a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Require users to create long, complex passwords that are changed regularly. Consider implementing multi-factor authentication as well, which adds an extra layer of security beyond just a password.

Limit User Privileges

Not everyone needs full administrative access to your systems. Limit privileges to only what is needed for each user’s specific role. This helps contain damage in the event an account is compromised. Network admin credentials should be extremely limited.

Secure Remote Access

The shift to remote work has created a larger attack surface. Employees accessing systems from home often do so through unsecured networks. Use a virtual private network (VPN) to establish secure remote connections. Enable multi-factor authentication for remote access. Set session timeouts to prevent accounts from remaining open and vulnerable.

Encrypt Sensitive Data

Data encryption on computer

If a cybercriminal does manage to infiltrate your network, you want to make sure they can’t read any sensitive data they encounter. Encryption scrambles data so it cannot be deciphered without the proper cryptographic key. Encrypt sensitive data in transit and when stored so it is protected even if compromised.

Manage Access Controls

Not everyone needs access to all of your data. Carefully manage access controls based on roles and responsibilities. Make data only accessible on a strict need-to-know basis. This contains damage in the event of a breach while also helping you comply with data privacy regulations.

Monitor for Threats

Security Specialist Monitoring Threats

Actively monitoring for threats helps you spot issues faster. Use security software like anti-virus programs, firewalls, and intrusion detection systems to monitor networks. Check logs regularly for signs of unauthorized access attempts. Stay informed about emerging cyber threats so you know what to watch out for.

Test Incident Response Plans

No system is entirely impenetrable. Develop and document a cybersecurity strategy and incident response plan so you can react quickly in the event of an actual breach. Make sure employees understand their roles. Test your plan regularly to uncover any gaps and keep response plans updated.

Control Use of External Devices

USB Drive

External devices are a common vector for spreading malware. Restrict employee use of unauthorized USB devices and other external drives. This prevents malicious software from entering your network. Use scanning and data corruption protection for necessary external devices.

Secure Endpoints

Endpoint devices like desktops, laptops, and mobile devices reside outside your network security perimeter. These access points need proper security too. Require disk encryption, strong passwords, and multi-factor authentication on endpoints. Install endpoint detection and response software to monitor for threats.

Provide Security Training

Person providing a security awareness training

Your team is your first line of defense. Provide regular cybersecurity awareness training to educate employees on best practices. Teach them how to identify phishing attempts, create strong passwords, avoid suspicious links, and report issues promptly. Emphasized that security is everyone’s responsibility.

Perform Vulnerability Assessments

Hackers search for weak points they can exploit. Conduct regular vulnerability scans and penetration testing to uncover gaps in your security posture. Ethical hackers can simulate real attacks to pinpoint high-risk vulnerabilities so you can prioritize patching them.

Implement the Principle of Least Privilege

Give users the bare minimum access they need to do their jobs and nothing more. This contains damage from potential bad actors from within. Strictly control access to sensitive systems and data on a need-to-know basis. Revoke permissions when no longer required.

Deploy Intrusion Detection Systems

Security Specialist Monitoring Threat Detection System

Intrusion detection systems (IDS) constantly monitor network activity and system logs to spot potential attacks. They trigger alerts when detecting anomalous behavior that could indicate a breach attempt. IDS technology helps catch attackers in the act before major damage can occur.

Perform Due Diligence on Vendors

Partners and third-party vendors with access to your systems can also introduce risk. Do your due diligence on any external party before granting access. Require vendors to demonstrate stringent security measures are in place to protect you and ensure access is limited only to what is necessary.

Install a Next-Gen Firewall

Traditional firewalls filter traffic based on ports and protocols. Next-gen firewalls incorporate additional layers like deep packet inspection to identify sophisticated threats trying to sneak through. Next-gen firewalls use threat intelligence to catch zero-day exploits.

Secure Domain Name System (DNS)

Close up graphic of Domain Name System

DNS translates domain names into IP addresses. Compromised DNS settings allow hackers to intercept traffic and divert it to malicious sites. Secure your DNS records and use DNS filtering to block access to known bad domains. Monitoring DNS logs can also provide visibility into breach attempts.

Disable Unnecessary Features or Protocols

Reduce your threat landscape by disabling any unnecessary features, services, accounts, or protocols. Less functionality means fewer opportunities for exploitation. For example, disable insecure protocols like FTP and SSL that are frequently targeted.

Avoid Clickbait and Phishing Lures

Train employees to identify and avoid phishing emails, malicious attachments, sketchy links, and other social engineering tactics aimed at getting them to voluntarily compromise security. Warn staff to exercise caution around sensational headlines designed to pique curiosity.

Use Caution with Public Wi-Fi

Person using public Wi-Fi cautiously on a laptop

Advise staff against accessing sensitive systems or data over public Wi-Fi networks. It is easy for attackers to intercept unencrypted traffic on open networks. At a minimum, use a VPN. Better yet, avoid public Wi-Fi altogether when working with confidential or sensitive information.

Encrypt Data to Prevent Breaches

One of the most effective technical controls for preventing breaches is encryption. Encryption scrambles data using cryptographic keys so only authorized parties can decipher it. This protects sensitive data even if it ends up in the wrong hands.

Implement encryption for data in transit over networks and for data at rest in databases, files, and other storage. TLS (transport layer security) encrypts browser sessions and WiFi connections. Disk and file encryption secures endpoint devices like laptops if lost or stolen. Email encryption prevents the interception of messages and attachments. Database encryption protects against breaches of stored data.

Applied judiciously, encryption provides a safety net in case attackers bypass other defenses. It renders stolen data useless. Deploy encryption aligned with your risk assessment – encrypting everything can impact performance and productivity. The benefits typically outweigh the costs of protecting intellectual property, customer data, health records, and other high-risk information. Encryption combined with access controls, cyber training, patching, and other layered security creates a formidable defense.

Establish a Secure Password Policy

Enforce strong password policies organization-wide. Require minimum length, complexity, regular rotation, and multi-factor authentication. Prohibit password reuse across sites. Store hashes using robust algorithms like bcrypt. Ban common passwords. Ensure proper protocols for secure password recovery.

Backup Sensitive Data

Data Backup

Even if all precautions fail and you suffer a breach, regularly backing up critical data and systems means you can restore data rather than lose it to ransomware. Store backups offline and air-gapped for optimal security. Test restoration periodically to verify recoverability.

Control Physical Security and Access

Don’t let intruders walk in the front door. Enforce strict physical access controls to buildings, data centers, and other sensitive locations. Require ID badges and limit access to authorized personnel. Deploy guards and surveillance cameras. Secure laptops and devices physically too.

Promote a Culture of Security Awareness

Foster an organizational culture that treats security as everyone’s responsibility. Provide ongoing education and communicate threats openly. Welcome reporting of issues without blame. Make secure practices part of day-to-day operations and decision-making. Lead by example.

Confirm Proper Configuration of New Systems

IT specialist double checking system configuration

With the fast pace of new implementations, sometimes security gets overlooked. Before deploying any new system, confirm it is configured according to security best practices. Verify settings match approved standards to avoid lapses that could leave an opening for attackers.

Develop a Data Breach Response Plan

Despite best efforts, data breaches can still occur. A formal response plan ensures you can react quickly if a breach happens. First, establish a response team with defined roles across IT, legal, HR, communications, and other areas. Document steps to take when a breach is detected – contain it, investigate, assess risks, and enlist forensic help as needed. Designate someone to handle regulatory reporting. Appoint a media spokesperson. Keep response plans updated through periodic testing.

A tested plan saves critical reaction time. It should define decision criteria for notification and contain draft communications for stakeholders. Testing through simulations keeps the plan aligned to organizational changes. A data breach response plan is a key aspect of cyber resilience. Being prepared with a response plan can significantly mitigate damage when incidents inevitably occur.

Take Proactive Measures to Prevent Data Breaches

The best defense is a good offense when it comes to data security. While response plans are critical, preventing breaches in the first place is ideal. There are several proactive steps organizations can take to minimize breach risks.

First, conduct ongoing security awareness training to establish secure practices as part of your culture. Educate staff on identifying threats like phishing and using strong passwords. Perform periodic simulated attacks to test defenses. Prioritize patching and keep systems current. Implement the principle of least privilege and strictly control access to sensitive data. Encrypt data both at rest and in transit. Use firewalls and endpoint security to monitor for anomalies and block known threats.

Proactive prevention combined with incident response readiness provides layered data protection. No single measure is perfect, but collectively they create a robust security posture. Conduct risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and address them. Building resilience requires constant vigilance, but when done right, you can operate confidently knowing steps are taken to thwart breach attempts.

Develop an Insider Threat Program

Your own employees with malicious intent can be a risk. Implement formal insider threat detection policies and procedures to spot potential data theft or fraud. Conduct employee monitoring only within legal limits. Offer anonymous reporting channels for suspected issues.

Consult with Ethical Hackers

IT specialist consulting with ethical hacker]

Your own security team may have blind spots. Bring in external ethical hackers to actively probe your networks and systems for weak points. Grant them permission to simulate real attacks. Ethical hacking provides an impartial assessment of vulnerabilities you can address.

There are many layers required for robust data security in today’s threat landscape. While no single technique is foolproof, implementing prudent solutions across each of these best practice areas will drastically lower your risk of a serious data breach.

Evaluate your existing security posture across people, processes, and technology, identify high-risk gaps, and work methodically to address them. Cybersecurity requires ongoing vigilance, but the payoff is the ability to operate in the digital world with greater peace of mind.

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Q&A

The following are some variations of frequently asked questions around the topic of “Which of the following are breach prevention best practices”. We hope you found the answer you were looking for and also take some time to dive deeper into ways to strengthen your cyber awareness education!

Using strong passwords, limiting user privileges, encrypting data, patching systems, training staff, and monitoring for threats.

Conduct risk assessments, limit PHI access, encrypt devices, protect data, install firewalls and anti-malware software, control physical access, and train staff.

Weak passwords, unpatched software, lack of encryption, phishing scams, improper access controls, and lost devices.

Unauthorized access, improper disposal, theft, hacking, lost devices, and employee errors.

Risk analysis, access controls, encryption, auditing, staff training, and incident response planning.

Multi-factor authentication, patch management, firewalls, endpoint security, access controls, encryption, and security awareness training.

Strong passwords, software updates, encryption, limited permissions, thorough monitoring, employee training and education.

Detection, escalation, investigation, notification, and post-breach review.

Contain the breach and perform a risk assessment.

Improper use and disclosure of protected health information.

Encryption, access controls, firewalls, vulnerability management, and security awareness training.

Notification is required for breaches affecting 500+ individuals.

Malware, hacking, insider threats, and human error.

Ongoing security training, patching, access controls, encryption, and activity monitoring.

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