In 2020 data protection is no longer an option. Companies can’t ignore mitigating the risk of targeted or accidental data leaks or hope they won’t suffer a data breach.

The number of cyberattacks is increasing every year and with the rising tide of regulations, data protection has become a mandatory part of every company’s security strategy. In 2019 data breaches have compromised the private data of hundreds of millions of users, the biggest security incidents involving companies such as Capital One or Zynga.

Data breaches can be disastrous in themselves and they are often followed by hefty fines, brand damage and loss of customer trust. Data protection by design and by default is at the core of many new regulations, including the EU’s GDPR and Brazil’s LGPD. Under them, companies can be fined not only for data breaches but also for failing to respect the new rights granted to data subjects under them. Consumer data, including Personally Identifiable Information (PII) is a key target for cybercriminals, but safeguarding intellectual property (IP) is gaining greater emphasis too.

Organizations are increasingly aware of the importance of data privacy and have started investing in data security strategies that aim to protect data and keep intruders out. Cybersecurity represents an asset and that’s why companies should make the most of what it has to offer.

Let’s check what can businesses do to ensure their sensitive data is protected in the upcoming year:

Improve employee awareness

The human element remains one of the biggest security threats across industries as human error and negligence can produce disastrous and expensive consequences.

In order to mitigate these risks, security awareness training should be mandatory and continuous for all organizations. This training can provide the knowledge necessary to make smart decisions and use appropriate caution when handling sensitive data. Companies should also keep in mind that cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility and it includes all levels of employees up to the C-suite, as well as part-time employees, seasonal workers, and interns. Everyone in the enterprise with access to a computer must be trained on cybersecurity best practices and ideally, it should start at the onboarding of the person.

Encrypt sensitive files

Encryption is considered one of the most powerful and useful tools in the data security arsenal and an important way to secure data both from malicious outsiders and careless employees. Furthermore, it is an effective step towards compliance with data protection regulations, and it can be used to protect both data at rest and in motion.

Organizations should consider encrypting sensitive files, including PII, as well as legally or medically sensitive data, thus ensuring that only authorized persons can access them and see their contents. This is important in terms of controlling and managing data within the company and protects confidential files in case of an outside attack.

Companies should also ensure that all devices leaving the workplace are encrypted; thus in case a device is lost, stolen or forgotten, the data on them is useless to anyone who tries to access it without a decryption key.

Conduct regular risk assessments

Risk assessment is an essential part of a cybersecurity strategy as it can identify vulnerabilities in the network, insufficiencies in employee education, inadequacies in the security posture of business partners, etc. For this, organizations must have a well-defined methodology that ensures that the risks are evaluated consistently.

By identifying potential threats and evaluating risk periodically, organizations can prevent security incidents, thus saving money in the long run.

Deploy a DLP solution

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) solutions are growing in popularity as organizations are looking for ways to reduce the risks related to sensitive data – including loss, theft, and misuse. With a DLP solution, like Endpoint Protector, companies can discover and monitor confidential information, including PII and IP, as well as prevent unauthorized disclosure of sensitive data by creating and enforcing disclosure policies.

Achieving compliance with different data protection regulations also becomes easier with a data loss prevention solution.

Be proactive

In this new decade, organizations should switch from a reactive approach to threats to a proactive one, as it is always better to prevent a breach than to recover from one. Blocking potential threats is also more economical, safer and faster. A proactive approach means that the enterprise tries to detect potential threats before an incident occurs and it includes robust security policies and security measures in place to protect sensitive data.

Data protection will be paramount in 2020 and security standards and expectations will keep evolving in the new decade. With the increasing number of data protection regulations and rising awareness of consumers, companies can no longer neglect the need for efficient data security strategies.