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The Importance of Data Hygiene

How’s your hygiene? By now you’ve become expert at handwashing, along with an all-out effort on air and surface cleaning.  And if you’ve been working from home the last year or so, chances are you’ve had to tidy up the homestead and make a shift in how you manage the work/life balance.

That’s all well and good, but how are you looking after your data hygiene? 

Data hygiene, as defined by the International Data Sanitization Consortium, is the process of making certain all inactive, incorrect or duplicate data is managed appropriately and assigned to the appropriate stage for storing, archiving or destroying.  This is an ongoing process that must be managed carefully and correctly.  If it is not, then you may be leaving your organization vulnerable to a cyberattack.

There are many ways one can leave the door open to attack. Some are seemingly obvious; others are less known but widespread.

A recent review of a local organization revealed hundreds of former employee user credentials with functional and active passwords.  This could be a potential danger if the information were to get into the hands of a cybercriminal or used by a disgruntled employee who is able to access the company network.

Old, yet usable data is one area that tends to fall by the wayside for businesses, mainly because it’s out of sight and out of mind. But that’s exactly the kind of thing that can be very useful to those looking to wreak havoc on a company.

In addition to data, we often see outdated software and firmware in place that is still in use, but has not been updated, lacking the latest security patches and leaving exploitable holes wide open to outsiders.  What does that mean for your company? All it would take is a well-crafted phishing email that catches one of your employees off guard; thus allowing malware to enter your network, leaving your data vulnerable.

The stats are sobering: 

  1. When data is compromised, an organization’s reputation can be tarnished by a measurable 17 to 31 percent, representing significant loss of trust.

  2. The average cost of a significant data breach is over $3 million.

  3. Two thirds of customers are willing to switch vendors when learning of a failure to protect customer data.

  4. And the biggie:  Up to 60 percent of small businesses fail within 6 months of a major data breach.

Keeping a Clean House In business, keeping an ultra-clean house is not an option! It’s a necessary requirement. At Pavelcomm, we’ve seen many different situations that could be potentially compromising.  All too often, however, our services are called upon after a breach has occurred. The good news is that we can then begin to develop a strategy to maintain safe practices, set up a secure network (with protocols in place to keep it that way), and educate all users so they know how to handle different situations and what to look for in order to prevent an attack from occurring.

While having a plan to deal with a future breach is critical to survival (a cyber policy), it is equally important to reduce as many attack vectors as possible.

Pavelcomm specializes in helping protect you and your customers’ data from compromise as well as planning to limit potential damage.  Are you looking to improve your data housekeeping to limit exposure to the unthinkable?   Contact us today for a consultation.

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