Data Interception Prevention: Tips and Methods to Protect Your Data

What is data interception, and how do you protect yourself against it? We examine the steps to execute best practices in data interception prevention.

How to Prevent Data Interception with Simple Strategies

Data breaches are big business that is harming all businesses. You’re acquainted with cyber-attacks that use software such as Ransomware and Malware, and online criminal strategies like phishing. 

But data interception prevention? What is data interception, and how do you protect yourself against it?

Data interception: Meaning and risk

When successful, data interception allows criminals to gain access to your database. What these criminals are after, of course, is all the incredibly valuable and confidential information that you think is protected.

Interception can take place in many ways. These include file viewing and copying, listening to telephone conversations, and reading an email. Many of these types of data interception can be detected by the use of specialist ‘debugging’ equipment and vigilance. 

Far more challenging to detect is the interception of what you think is secure data as it moves around your network or when it is sent across the internet. To do this, unauthorized users may employ hardware and software such as packet sniffers to examine your data. Sometimes all your data, and sometimes only targeted data by filtering for the exact information match they wish to exploit.

And the risk of this happening to you? All businesses are at risk of data interception. Recent high-profile data breaches include:

Don’t think it could happen to you? The prevalence of this type of cybercrime is truly shocking:

Still not convinced your data is at risk? Research by Varonis found that, in the average company, all employees have access to 17% of all sensitive files and the average employee has access to 11 million files. Worst of all, only 5% of companies’ folders benefit from proper protection.

In addition:

What data is at risk?

You’ll find two ‘types’ of data that are at risk from data interception:

  • Data in transit (or data in motion) 

This is data that is being moved between locations, across the internet, or within a private network. You’ll need to protect this data as it moves from network to network or from a local storage device to a cloud storage device.

  • Data at rest

This is any data that is not in the process of moving, including data stored on a hard drive, laptop, flash drive, or archived/stored in some other way. The objective of data protection at rest is to secure inactive data stored on any device or network.

How to prevent data interception: Is data encryption the ultimate protection?

When you think about data, you may naturally consider encrypting it. Data encryption is the process of encoding data in such a way that it cannot be read by anyone except for the intended recipient. Indeed, this should always be your first line of defense. How encryption works best depends upon the type of data you are protecting:

Encryption of data at rest

There are three methods of encrypting data at rest:

  1. Full disk encryption, which protects the entire disk and all files on the drive.

  2. File-level encryption, which is designed to protect where full disk encryption falls short ─ like a security box that has a different key to the vault in which it is housed.

  3. Database encryption. This type of encryption converts the data stored into meaningless ciphertext by using an algorithmic encryption method.

Encryption of data in transit

When encrypting data in transit, the data that is being transmitted (for example, emails) is encoded to prevent unauthorized people from reading it. Most encryption protocols include algorithms that stop the data from being intercepted and altered while in transit.

To prevent data interception, you must go beyond data encryption

Certainly, encrypting your data will help to keep your data secure while it is moving, and help keep it safe from being manipulated or stolen. 

Therefore, a central tactic in the protection of your data should be to identify, classify, and encrypt sensitive data.

However, encryption isn’t a 100% failsafe. This is because the increased challenge that encryption gives cybercriminals makes it more likely that they will lose interest and move onto easier targets. It’s here where you must also focus your preventative efforts.

The best practices to follow to protect data in transit and at rest are:

  • Implement robust network security controls

  • Identify at-risk data and put effective protection measures in place for at rest and in-transit data

  • Ensure your data protection methods include user authentication, user prompting, and the automatic encryption of all sensitive (or potentially sensitive) data

  • Develop policies for categorizing and classifying all your data

To accomplish this, here are nine further security steps that you should implement immediately if you haven’t done so already:

  1. Provide your employees with appropriate cybersecurity training

As a business owner, you have a responsibility to ensure your employees are trained in cybersecurity. The benefits of this type of training include reduced risk of data breaches and increased efficiency.

  1. Implement multi-factor verification

Multi-factor verification adds an extra layer of security to the login process by requiring the user to verify their identity with a text message or email, and this can help prevent hacking of your system and data.

  1. Use strong password protection

A strong password protocol can prevent hackers from accessing your systems by stealing or deciphering your employees’ passwords. You should ensure that your systems, folders, and files can only be accessed by inputting a password and that passwords include special characters, numbers, and uppercase and lowercase characters. Also, ensure that passwords are changed regularly, not written down anywhere, and not shared.

  1. Safely dispose of sensitive data

Data that is not considered sensitive can be deleted simply by pressing the delete key on a computer keyboard. Sensitive data is more difficult and requires a secure deletion. Measures here include options such as using data destruction services and disk wipes.

  1. Invest in virus and spyware protection

It is crucial to protect your devices and systems with a virus and spyware protection solution. Most of these programs come in the form of security suites for computers or antivirus apps for mobiles which will scan your device looking for malware.

  1. Activate firewall protection to protect your system and data

Firewalls are a form of security used to protect a system or a network from unauthorized access. They work by controlling the flow of information going in and out of a network. Firewalls can be activated on both hardware and software levels.

  1. Be careful about employees using personal devices

With the use of personal devices increasing, you must set a standard for your employees. It is important that you make it clear what will happen if an employee violates this policy.

  1. Have a secure data filtering system

The problem with the internet is that it is not always a safe place to be. Businesses should invest in a data filtering system to protect their confidential/private information and data. This system will filter any said information from going out onto the internet and will help eliminate the stealing of sensitive data.

  1. Invest in data intercept security software

Companies should make sure they invest in high-quality software to protect their sensitive data from being intercepted by hackers and other malicious actors. It will help to protect against viruses, malware, spam, and more. When investigating what is the best data intercept security software for your business, you should answer questions that include:

  • Is the data intercept security software compatible with your company’s needs?

  • Is the data intercept security software easy to use?

  • What are the costs of using this type of software?

  • Can this type of software be installed easily on your computers?

Still, baffled or unsure of where to begin? Contact us for help with all your cybersecurity needs.

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