4 Data Security Measures Software Services Need to Take

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Lately, there’s so much noise in the media about data breaches and compromises that it can be difficult for businesses, consumers, and the general public to understand their exposure and pinpoint real threats. The chance is they will place this responsibility solely on their service providers. 

With the new privacy laws being reviewed and implanted- including GDPR, the CCPA, and the recently proposed Data Care Act, software services can’t help but become compliant if they want to remain above the floating line. Failure to do so, however, can land them in expensive fines and a long-lasting tarnished reputation. 

Increasingly more software services rely on keeping their source code private to ensure the security of their products and maintain a competitive advantage. 

Obviously, a piece of software can be replicated, but access to source code makes the difference between a poor copy and a nearly identical product. 

Third-party access to source code can also mean that the security of the product has been breached. Once they gain access to the source code, cybercriminals can easily investigate and find flaws they can exploit to steal data or misuse a product. 

Hence, the security of source code and intellectual property plays a key role in the cybersecurity practices of software services. While common security practices such as antivirus or firewalls remain a viable option, there are also several security blind spots that are often neglected. 

1. Protect Sensitive Corporate Data From Outsiders

In a massively digitised environment, data is constantly moving. People transfer data on a daily basis via messaging apps, email or virtual coworking spaces. The solutions they use can be corporate-approved communication channels, but they can also be personal services used by the staff in their work without the knowledge of their companies. 

Data is moving, and it is considered less secure while doing so through unreliable channels. Not only is it subjected to transfer but venturing outside the company’s network will leave it vulnerable to Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) type of attacks. 

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By using data loss prevention tools to create predefined profiles for critical data such as intellectual property, source code or PII, as well as customised definitions, software services can apply security policies directly to the data they need to protect. Through content inspection and contextual scanning, data loss prevention tools can locate critical data in multiple file formats, monitor its movements, block its transfers through unauthorised channels, and report any attempts of transfer. 

2. Secure Collaboration Tools Are a Must

The use of collaboration tools is massively spread in software companies. Employees can easily track tasks, communicate in a timely manner, and ultimately improve their productivity. But when you handle sensitive data, you will know the severe consequence of a data breach. 

Services and companies widely adopt collaboration platforms and apps, but staff looking for faster and better ways of dealing with their workload often rely on other tools without the knowledge of the employer. This is known as shadow-IT and is a serious threat as employees may transfer critical data through potentially insecure collaboration tools. 

However, to enjoy constant change and growth without compromising your software service, you need to look up the most secure collaboration tools available today. Note that secure collaboration tools should have proper authorization and authentification measures to reduce the chances of data leaks. These are critical features since data is constantly shared between staff members, clients, and associates on collaboration tools. 

What’s more, the same tools must prevent third parties from phishing into your pool of organisation information. 

3. Manage the Risks of Removable Media 

Removable devices have always proved a convenient way for employees to access business and personal data whenever they need it. 

Portable media such as smartphones, SD cards, USK sticks and external hard drives ensure you can easily copy and transfer data, take it off-site and conduct your daily business outside the secure perimeters of your company. 

But, as the use of removable devices has increased, so have the associated risks. Even though they are portable and very convenient that doesn’t mean they’re secure against network security breaches. 

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Failure to effectively manage the transfer of data could expose a software company to the following risks: 

  • Loss of data –Allowing your employees to use removable media devices can expose a large volume of sensitive data. 
  • Malware- Unrestricted use of removable media can increase the risk of malware being transferred to the critical business system. 
  • Financial loss- According to DataBreachLaw.org.uk, lost or compromised critical data could subject a company to vast financial penalties. 

Security risks posed by the use of removable media are just too severe for companies to ignore. We’ve seen leading software banning their employees from using portable storage devices due to reputational and financial damage that could stem from misplaced, misused or lost removable media devices. 

4. Use the Principle of Least Privilege

Offering new employees, the privilege to access critical data grants them the freedom to access it even if they don’t need it. In turn, this approach increases the potential of insider threats and allows cybercriminals to access sensitive information as soon as a single staff member is compromised. 

Believe it or not, privilege abuse is a leading cause of data breaches, according to a report by Verizon.

To put it simply, you should try to assign each new employee the fewest privileges possible and add more if necessary. All corresponding rights should be immediately revoked once access to critical business data is no longer needed.

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