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4 Ways to Detect and Prevent Misuse of Data

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Most organizations gather and store a large amount of sensitive data. Client databases with personal and financial information, internal documentation detailing trade secrets, content and technologies produced by an organization, etc. Employees, sub-contractors, and third-party vendors often access this data on a daily basis. This opens the very real possibility for data to be misused, either intentionally for personal gain, or inadvertently.

Data protection

What are the dangers of data misuse? One of the most widespread – and shown in movies - examples of inappropriate use of data is by police officers, who often use police databases to make personal requests for information regarding their relatives or acquaintances. In business, data misuse is usually constitutes a very costly breach that can result in a theft of sensitive personal information, loss of clients, reputation and goodwill, and high remediation costs. It can also open company infrastructure to hacking and malicious attacks. Not to mention that preventing the misuse of sensitive, personal or customer data is required by law and failure to do so can lead to costly fines.

 

Data being misused inside your organization is a very dangerous prospect. But how to prevent data misuse? And how can you detect it when it happens?  There are a number of ways to go about it. In this post, we will cover the 4 most effective methods of detecting and preventing misuse of data.

 

Monitor data access

 

Data access is the first point of a potential misuse. Employees and sub-contractors often get to access confidential or sensitive data that they are not supposed to have access to.

 

Sometimes it happens because they use shared account or a fellow co-worker’s password in order to save themselves some time to do their job, sometimes it happens by accident, and sometimes they do it for personal gain with the intention to either steal data or use it for themselves. The consequences of such actions can be data leaks, breaches, and the loss of business.

 

Therefore, it is important to conduct monitoring of every data access point. The most basic way to do this is to collect logs. However, this may not give you the full picture, especially when employees in the same workplace share accounts. The better way is to employ the secondary authentication option coupled with user actions monitoring, such as Ekran System, or a dedicated application-specific access control solution.

 

Use Ekran Systems to control access to data. Ekran System has a secondary authentication feature that will ask users to provide additional unique credentials before the start of the session. This allows you to know exactly who initiated the session. You will then be able to see what data was accessed and what changes were made.

 

Monitor user actions

 

One of the best ways to detect and prevent misuse of data is to see exactly what happens after the data was accessed. Various logs usually do not tell you this information, or at least no to the full extend, but a dedicated user monitoring solution, such as Ekran System, allows you to easily see what exactly has happened with the data – when it was used, how and by whom.

 

It is very important to monitor actions of users working with confidential or sensitive information. Misuse of such data can open organization to a very high damage control and remediation costs and even potential lawsuits. Users with high privileges also pose additional threat.

 

Read also some tips about how to audit healthcare application providers

 

Know exactly how data is used with Ekran System. Ekran System is a dedicated user monitoring solution that records every information shown on screen including mouse movements in an indexed video file coupled with relevant metadata, such as names of applications and active windows, visited websites, pressed keystrokes, etc. Video logs are easily searchable and ongoing session can be viewed live in real time, allowing you to see exactly how users are using the data. With agents available for Windows, Linux, and Citrix platforms, Ekran System gives you needed internal visibility accross your infrastrusture.

 

Use the principle of least privilege

 

Usually, specially in small and medium sized organizations, access to all data for any employee is available by default, apart from the most sensitive information that is specifically restricted. However even the data you do not consider to be dangerous or important can be stolen or used to the detriment of your business. Furthermore, such environment makes it easy for employees to access restricted data, by asking for passwords or using shared accounts. How to stop data misuse in this situation?

 

The best way to go about it is to create a data access policy based on a principle of least privilege. Meaning, that access to all data should be restricted by default, unless it is specifically allowed. Such permissions should be granted only when access to the data is essential for an employee to be able to perform their duties. This will create a very transparent chain of privileges that will make it clear who has access to what data.

 

However, the weakest link of the smart data access policy is the most privileged users. They have legitimate access to most sensitive and critical information that organization possesses with very little control and restrictions imposed on them, allowing data misuse to go unnoticed. In order to detect and prevent any data misuse on their part, solutions to monitor privileged users need to be employed.

 

Monitor privileged users with Ekran Systems. Ekran System monitors every session regardless of the level of privilege user account has. By using the convenient Web Management Tool you will be able to watch the video and see everything exactly as the user saw it, making it easy to detect any data misuse. However, such video records can also be a subject of data misuse, if they are accessed without authorization. Ekran System provides flexible user permission system and records internal user actions, allowing you to see who accessed the Management Tool and for what purposes.

 

Make sure that your system is well protected

 

Data misuse is considered a security breach and first and foremost it is a security concern. And when it comes to informational security of your company, Importance of data protection cannot be overstated.

 

Building reliable defenses capable of protecting from both insider and outsider threats is the first step on the path to avoid data misuse. In order to do so, you must accurately assess risks that your organization is facing and create complex and layered security. Anti-virus and firewall are the most basic security measures that should not be ignored. You must create a smart and effective security policy and educate your employees on the best security practices. Only trusted software should be used, that you should always keep updated and patched. It is also important to employ tools for prevention and detection of insider threats.

 

Use Ekran System to strengthen your defenses. Ekran System helps with data protection by allowing you not only to detect, but also to prevent data misuse. System can send notifications on detecting suspicious activity, allowing your security personnel to see what a user is doing via the live feed and block this activity if needed. Ekran System also has an ability to detect USB devices on connection and optionally block them, preventing unauthorized transfer or copying of important files.

 

Conclusion

 

We hope this post gave you some ideas on how to protect your organization and maybe even how to protect your computer from data misuse. By employing any of these methods, you will strengthen your defenses, but only the combination of the above catered to your particular situation will give you and your organization the best possible protection from data misuse.

 

Read also about the cybersecurity policies and procedures in 2017 for your business.