Who would have imagined a few years ago just how important data security would become? Today, data is one of the most sought-after commodities in every industry.

Every business knows the importance of collecting and analyzing customer data. For example, data can be extrapolated to uncover opportunities that will help a firm stay competitive in its space. However, collecting and storing data presents a serious risk to many businesses. First off is the risk of being hacked. Secondly, a company can be fined heavily or be charged in court for data breaches or non-compliance with regulatory data handling requirements.

British Airways, Verifications.io, Canva, Flipboard, and Equifax are some of the big companies that have dealt with costly data breaches in the past.

What Risks Should You Be Aware of in 2020?

In 2020, businesses need to proof their operations against the following data risks:

a) Ransomware

Many security experts agree that the ransomware attacks launched against businesses in 2019 were just the beginning. In the cybertheft enterprise, criminals are no longer just stealing data and putting it up for sale in the dark market. Rather, they have resorted to extortion.

Ransomware is the newest and one of the most devastating attack vectors every business should guard itself against.

b) Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS)

DDoS attacks have been around for decades and seem to get complex every day. Many businesses are moving their operations to the cloud, giving a new lease of life to weaponized DDoS attacks. Downtimes caused by sustained DDoS attacks will continue to be a risk to businesses that lack the appropriate safeguards in place.

c) Insider Threats

IBM reports that insiders cause 60% of data breaches in organizations. Internal players pose the biggest data security risk in most industries due to poor info security awareness and a lack of accountability.

The Snowden case demonstrates just how much damage a single employee can cause a big organization in case of a data breach.

How to Stay Ahead of Business Risks in 2020

Here are five ways in which you can stay ahead of business risk in 2020:

  1. Invest in Robust Onsite IT infrastructure
    With everything moving to the cloud, it’s easy for businesses to think that a barebones local IT infrastructure is good enough. You probably won’t require some expensive infrastructure, such as servers. However, your onsite setup will still require firewalls, authentication and monitoring components, secure authentication systems, VPN’s, etc.In addition to the hardware and software, you need a robust IT policy framework to define access policies and network segmentation. Such policies ensure that only authorized parties have access to sensitive resources within the organization.
  2. Data Compliance Preparedness For 2020
    Non-compliance will continue being a big risk for businesses in 2020.Gone are the days when a business could do whatever they wanted with customer data. New laws and increased enforcement can get your business in trouble for failure to comply with regulatory requirements in your industry. For example, online businesses that handle sensitive data such as credit card information need to comply with PCI-DSS standards.
  3. Invest in Bleeding Edge Data Security Technologies
    Already using 2FA (two-factor authentication)? If not, implement it in your systems before exploring other technologies, such as continuous authentication.Continuous authentication is one of the bleeding edge technologies used to prevent unauthorized access and maintain system integrity. The technology uses analytics and AI to safeguard your data against new threats.
  4. Prepare for Disaster
    Research shows that over 70% of SMEs cannot recover from a serious data breach. This highlights a general lack of disaster recovery plans in many businesses.It does not matter how strong or fool-proof your security setup is; having a detailed disaster recovery will help you get back in operations up when a breach occurs. You need an incident recovery plan and team in place. Moreover, you should identify the critical components in your business that need to be up for operations to continue when disaster strikes.
  5. Routine Risk-Assessment
    It’s not just enough to invest in a data security solution and move on. New threats are always in the pipeline. Therefore, routine risk assessment should form part of your proactive defense strategies. For instance, you should always assess the impact of new hires, increasing revenues, and new tools on data security.

Things You Need to Do Right Now

Here are five immediate preventive measures you should have in place:

  • Backup your data onsite or in the cloud
  • Have a password policy and encrypt your data
  • Use VPNs for remote connections to sensitive databases
  • Have an onsite firewall solution
  • Invest in a reliable anti-virus solution for your business

Data security, GDPR non-compliance, and other regulatory requirements will continue to impact businesses in 2020. To be safe, firms need to implement deliberate strategies to ensure robust data protection and regulatory compliance.

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