A strong cyber security plan defends your data from both cyberattacks and from physical threats such as natural disasters. However, the data itself can be a threat if it is not properly maintained. Incorrect data, obsolete data, and data that provides no value to the organization can cost you lost time and money, and it can even lead to legal complications if the data is seized by cyberattacks. Because of this, the process of data collection and the data itself should be monitored as closely as external threats should be.

Perform an Audit to Assess Cyber Health

The first step to resolving a problem is to clearly define it. Addressing data-based problems involves a thorough inspection of the data. Signs of trouble include obsolete data, data that is of no use to the organization, and data that been corrupted or compromised. During the audit, it is important to consider physical means of data collection – including surveys and mail-in forms – as well as electronic means of collecting data.

Assign Restrictions and Formatting Rules to Data

Automated rules that define what forms data can take can reduce the amount of nonsensical or corrupt data that an organization collects and stores. You should clearly specify which pieces of data are mandatory. Applying filters and automatic rejection on data fields – such as refusing non-numeric characters for an “age” field – dramatically reduces the possibilities of invalid data and code injection attacks. Accepted standardizations and abbreviations keep databases from growing too large or unwieldy to maintain.

Launch Automated Data Cleansing Efforts

Human error guarantees that invalid data will be placed into your databases and that not every data error will be caught by a manual audit. Automated data-cleansing efforts can perform fixes to minor data issues – such as using “Street” instead of “St.” — and reject entire records when the data is invalid or nonsensical. Automated data cleansing can also detect and remove duplicate records.

Update Data As Swiftly As Possible

Data changes often and in a variety of ways. Phone numbers change or deactivate, customers and employees move to new locations, and employees get promoted, transferred, or terminated. An organization should strive to update data the moment the data change is known; acting quickly will reduce the chances of an uninformed employee attempting to reach out to an incorrect resource or one that is no longer applicable.

Delete Outdated Data As Soon As It’s Considered Obsolete

Data that serves no purpose to your business wastes space on your storage devices. Obsolete or useless data can also be a liability if it contains personally identifiable information and is seized by a cybercriminal. You should establish and adhere to data destruction policies that are triggered as soon as data is considered outdated or obsolete. The policy should also define how many times free space on storage devices, both active and inactive, need to be wiped to ensure that the data cannot be recovered by hackers or thieves.

How CyberCompass Can Help Formulate Sound Data Hygiene Practices

Countries and states have regulations that govern how organizations use and treat data. CyberCompass offers regulation compliance services to assist organizations exceed the requirements of the regulations that govern its operations. Our business continuity services prepare organizations to recover from disasters and crises – including those that can corrupt or destroy data. Contact us today to schedule a phone consultation, request a demo, or receive a quote for our services.

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