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Prevent Unauthorized Access and Protect Your Company's Data

How to Prevent Unauthorized Access and Protect Your Company's Data Companies today are more vulnerable to data breaches than ever before. With remote work, bring […]

How to Prevent Unauthorized Access and Protect Your Company's Data

Companies today are more vulnerable to data breaches than ever before. With remote work, bring your own device policies, and complex networks, there are countless ways for hackers to gain unauthorized access to sensitive information. Just one breach can permanently damage your business's finances and reputation. Therefore, it is essential to prevent unauthorized access. 

According to research, the average data breach costs companies $4.24 million in 2021. Beyond the steep financial toll, breaches also lead to business disruptions, loss of proprietary information, and damaged reputation. With attacks happening every 11 seconds, no company can afford to be complacent about cybersecurity.

The impacts of a data breach extend far beyond the initial monetary costs. Customer trust is fragile, and a single breach can cause long-term damage to your brand reputation. Customers expect their sensitive personal and financial information to be protected when doing business with you. If hackers gain access, customers may lose confidence and take their business elsewhere.

Breaches also frequently lead to disruption of normal business operations. If systems are compromised, you may need to take them offline to investigate, contain the breach, and remove any malware or unauthorized access pathways. This downtime directly impacts productivity and revenue. Plus, breaches often result in the loss of proprietary data like product designs, pricing sheets, intellectual property, and other sensitive internal information. This gives competitors an advantage while dealing with your business a major setback.

Given the massive potential consequences, taking a proactive approach to lock down access is mission-critical. In this article, we'll explore seven techniques any business can implement to keep its network and information secure and how to prevent unauthorized access.

Prevent Unauthorized Access and Protect Your Company's Data

Prevent Unauthorized Access and Protect Your Company's Data

Require Strong Passwords Across the Organization

Weak passwords are behind 81% of hacking-related data breaches, according to Verizon's 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report. Yet despite this risk, many employees still use overly simple passwords like "123456" and "password" to protect sensitive accounts.

To lock down access, your first priority should be implementing strong password policies across your entire workforce. Your IT team should set detailed requirements, including:

  • Minimum password length of 12–14 characters
  • Mandatory inclusion of special characters and numbers
  • Prohibition of common words, phrases, and patterns
  • No use of personal information like names or birthdays

Do not allow employees to set their own passwords. Instead, have your IT department provide unique, complex passwords to each employee for all critical systems.

You should also deploy an enterprise password manager tool like LastPass or 1Password. These tools provide secure encrypted storage of passwords in a digital vault. Employees can access the vault using a master password. This enables convenient access while eliminating the risks of weak, reused passwords.

By requiring and providing strong, unique passwords across all employees and systems, you take a major step to prevent unauthorized access.

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Add Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Across All Systems

However, passwords alone are no longer enough to protect modern networks. 81% of hacking-related breaches involve compromised user credentials, according to Verizon's report. Even if you have strong passwords, hackers can still gain access by stealing login credentials through phishing campaigns.

That's why multifactor authentication (MFA) is now essential. MFA requires users to provide multiple credentials before being granted system access. This protects against intruders who have managed to steal a password.

There are a variety of options for secondary credentials, including:

  • Biometrics like fingerprint scans or facial recognition
  • Tokens sent to a mobile device that must be entered
  • Randomly generated codes from an authenticator app
  • Answering a set of pre-defined security questions

Ideally, you should enable MFA across every system including email, networks, VPN, cloud platforms, workstations, and servers. This best practice provides layered security and ensures credentials cannot be compromised by a single phishing attack.

MFA does create extra steps for employees, so be sure to provide training and documentation on using secondary credentials. However, a minor inconvenience is worth it to significantly strengthen your defenses against intrusion.

Secure Physical Access Points

While digital protections are critical, you also need to lock down physical access to sensitive IT infrastructure like workstations, servers, and network equipment.

Require all employees to lock their workstations when stepping away from their desks. Enforce mandatory screen locking after a period of inactivity. This help prevent unauthorized access if an employee walks away without locking.

For server rooms, IT closets, and data centers, strict physical security is a must. Use electronic key card access, numeric PIN pads, or physical locks to control entry. Only staff members with a true need to enter these areas should have access.

Keep logs of who enters and exits these secure areas at all times. Detecting unauthorized physical access attempts provides valuable threat intelligence that can prevent a larger breach.

Continuously Monitor Network Activity

To spot threats early, you need complete visibility into activity across your entire digital infrastructure. Advanced network monitoring tools can track traffic patterns, bandwidth usage, connections between systems, logins, and many other behaviors.

By establishing a baseline for normal operations, intelligent monitoring software can automatically detect anomalies that may indicate a breach. For example, spikes in outbound data transfers, login attempts from strange locations, or connections with unknown IP addresses should all trigger alerts.

Pay particular attention to monitoring high-risk entry points like VPN logins, remote desktop sessions, cloud platforms, and employee endpoints. Catching unauthorized access attempts quickly limits the damage potential.

You can also deploy intrusion detection and prevention systems that act like network security cameras. These will instantly sound the alarm when suspicious activities occur so your team can respond ASAP.

Maintain Updated Software Across All Systems

Out-of-date software and operating systems contain vulnerabilities that hackers actively exploit. New security gaps are uncovered constantly, so software vendors issue frequent patches and updates.

To prevent intruders from leveraging known vulnerabilities, you need to ensure automatic patching and updates are enabled across all systems and devices. This includes operating systems, business applications, databases, networks, endpoints, and any other software.

While updates require IT effort for testing and deployment, it is vital to close security holes as vendors discover them. Don't give hackers an easy opening to slip through.

Adopt The Least Privilege and Zero Trust Models

Two key access management principles you should adopt are the least privilege and zero trust.

The least privilege model means each employee should only be granted the minimum access necessary to do their specific job (need-to-know basis). This limits damage if credentials are compromised.

Zero trust takes this a step further by assuming that all access requests are potentially malicious until proven otherwise. Verify everything and trust no one. Limit lateral movement between systems and constantly reevaluate access.

Combining the least privilege and zero trust reduces your attack surface and makes breaches far less catastrophic if they do occur. Segment your network extensively and tightly control permissions with these models in mind.

Partner with a Managed Security Services Provider

Given the 24/7 nature of modern cyber threats, many businesses choose to partner with a managed security services provider (MSSP). An MSSP acts as an extension of your IT team to manage, monitor, and enhance your security posture.

Key benefits of partnering with an MSSP include:

  • Ongoing security assessments of your infrastructure to identify vulnerabilities
  • Implementation of layered defenses like firewalls, endpoint protection, intrusion systems, and more
  • 24/7 monitoring, threat hunting, and incident response
  • Regular security awareness training for employees
  • Guidance creating and testing incident response plans
  • Access to elite security tools and threat intelligence

This allows you to take advantage of enterprise-grade security resources without needing to hire additional in-house staff with these specialized skills. MSSPs stay on top of the latest threats and defense tactics, so your business doesn't have to.

Your internal IT team is freed up to focus on critical tasks like managing operations, servers, applications, and end-user support. The MSSP handles the heavy lifting on security, providing constant protections tailored to your environment.

Partnering with a reputable MSSP gives you peace of mind, knowing professionals are standing guard over your network around the clock. Be sure to find an MSSP that meshes with your company culture and has experience supporting businesses in your industry.

Defending against modern data breaches requires constant vigilance and a multi-layered approach. However, by taking a proactive stance and implementing these seven security measures, you can effectively prevent unauthorized access, detect threats early, and protect your organization from substantial harm.

Here at LK Technologies, our team of cybersecurity experts has deep experience protecting businesses from ever-evolving digital threats. We offer managed security services including:

  • Initial security assessments, identifying risks
  • Installation of firewalls, threat monitoring, encryption, and more
  • 24/7 network monitoring with rapid response to threats
  • Security awareness education for employees
  • Compliance audits and guidance

Contact us today to discuss your unique security needs and lock down access across your organization. We're here to provide the expertise and technology to help your business thrive safely. With LK as your partner, you can rest assured your data and systems are secure.


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