Protecting Your Company with Backend Security
With organizations increasingly relying on digital tools like databases, servers, and APIs, backend security is of the utmost importance. From SQL injections, to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), to credential stuffing, cyber attacks can come in many forms, and they are constantly evolving.
When we fail to prioritize digital security, we face multiple risks, from lost revenue to breached privacy to a compromised reputation. In 2020, over 155 billion people were affected by data breaches in the United States alone. And regarding lost funds, IBM estimates that hacked data resulted in a loss of $3.86 billion in 2020.
So what can we do to protect our data, customer privacy, and revenue? Let’s take a look at some solid practices that can keep your organization safe from cyber attacks.
1. Isolate your databases and servers
First things first: isolate your databases and servers. Connected or linked systems make it easier for hackers to access more digital areas of your organization, because they can move between them laterally. If they can gain access to one of your less secure servers, they might be able to use that access to move into another part of your organization.
To prevent this, consider keeping servers on different machines and limit how many files are stored in shared environments. Isolating servers and databases means possible attacks will be more contained.
2. Manage User Access Wisely
Cyber attacks don’t always come from external foes; hackers can be members of your own company, gaining your trust and getting access to powerful data. Always be aware of the possibility of internal threats.
With this in mind, consider using the “least privilege” principle to govern who has access to what areas and how much access they have. In other words, limit how much access each staff member has to your digital information. Never give someone more access than they need in order to do their job.
We also recommend monitoring who is accessing sensitive databases, and when they do it. If you observe any unusual patterns (like someone viewing the data of a sector they don’t work in, or accessing data outside of normal work hours), this can tip you off to suspicious activity.
3. Protect Login Credentials
Staff should also avoid sharing credentials with other organization members. If you absolutely must share credentials, never do so on a public network or without encryption. Public networks are especially vulnerable to hackers who can observe your digital activity. You don’t want them spying on you sending passwords to a coworker.
And when it comes to storing credentials, these files should never be viewable as plain text. Instead, be sure to encrypt them so they’re indecipherable to third parties. Always encrypt passwords.
When logging into an account, consider using secondary authentication and authorization solutions, in addition to passwords. Things like two-factor authentication (which can involve sending a verification code to your phone) help ensure the correct person is accessing the database. A simple password is not enough, because hackers have sophisticated ways of guessing our passwords.
4. Anonymize your data
When doing analysis on data sets, it’s not necessary to know whose data is whose. To protect individuals’ privacy, anonymize data before analyzing it. This means separating an individual’s identifying information (e.g. their name, address) from other data provided.
This helps maintain privacy within your organization, and it also means that if a third party gets unauthorized access to the data, the individuals’ privacy is still preserved.
5. Throttle data capacity
Hackers sometimes use a method called a Distributed Denial of Service attack. A DDoS attack involves someone attempting to overwhelm your server with too many requests for the server to handle. It might try to flood your site with excess traffic or submit a form an exponential number of times.
To prevent a DDoS attack, consider limiting the amount of data that a user can transmit to your site. For example, limit the number of times someone can submit a form in a set period of time, or throttle how many visitors can access your website at once.
Also consider limiting the number of times a user can attempt to log in (this will also protect you from hackers who auto-generate password guesses until they reach the correct one). This will protect your server from being overwhelmed and becoming vulnerable to forced entry.
6. Upgrade your OS and apps
Third-party plugins, apps, and APIs can create vulnerabilities for your organization. This means cyber attackers can use them to get access to your digital infrastructure.
To limit the vulnerability that comes with using third-party apps, make sure all your software and plugins are up-to-date. All items you’ve installed should be running on their most recent version.
Also be sure to delete stuff you don’t use. Extra apps and plugins can clutter up your digital space and make things run slower—and also make you vulnerable to attacks. If you don’t use it, toss it.
7. Implement data backups & encryption
Finally, what are your organization’s failsafe measures? If a hack is successful, how will you limit the damage? Consider using encryption and backups.
Encryption is a protective measure that prevents hackers from understanding your data, even if they get their hands on it. And backups ensure that if your data is stolen or erased, you have another copy and haven’t lost all your information. These two measures can help prevent a hack from having catastrophic consequences.
There you have it! Now you have a good foundation for protecting your organization from cyber attacks when it comes to backend security.
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