The Executives Guide to Preventing Data Breaches

Data breaches have become increasingly common in recent years and can have serious consequences for any organization they affect. Despite the widespread popularity of this problem, many executives continue to believe that data breaches only happen to other organizations. This mindset can leave the organization vulnerable to cyberattacks. In today’s world, every business, regardless of size or industry, is at risk of a data breach, and these can cause significant financial losses. This may include costs associated with investigating the breach, notifying affected customers, and possible legal fees.

Microsoft’s “BlueBleed” data breach is one of several recent data breaches in which microscopic human error exposed data from more than 65000 companies across 111 countries. More than 2,4 terabytes of sensitive business data and personally identifiable information were publicly exposed due to misconfiguration. (Skyhigh Security 2022.)

A data breach will damage a company’s reputation, at least in the short term. If sensitive customer or employee data is compromised, it can erode customer and stakeholder trust in the business. This can lead to the loss of current and potential future customers. Depending on the nature and severity of the breach, a company may also be subject to prosecution, fines or even regulatory action. This can be costly and time-consuming, and further damages the company’s reputation. Data breaches can also cause significant operational disruption. For example, if a company’s website or other systems are compromised, they may even need to be shut down or undergo significant maintenance and repairs. This can lead to loss of productivity and income.

So how do you prevent data breaches?

The first step in protecting data is to conduct a risk assessment. This will help identify potential threats and vulnerabilities in the data one possesses. Once these risks are identified, steps can be taken to minimize them. For example, it may be necessary to implement stricter access controls or updated security policies and procedures to address this issue.

After performing a risk assessment, it is important to develop a data protection plan. This plan must describe the measures to be taken to protect the organization’s data. It should also include data backup, disaster recovery, and incident response procedures.

Access control is also essential to protect the data an organization possesses. Strong authentication measures, such as two-factor authentication, should be implemented to ensure that only authorized users can access the data. Access to sensitive data should also be limited to those who truly need it to perform their duties.

Data encryption can help further protect data from unauthorized access, and encryption should also be used to protect data in transit and at rest. This will ensure that even if someone accesses the data, they will not be able to read it without the encryption key.

Also remember that employees are an organization’s first line of defense against data breaches. It is important to train employees on data protection measures, such as identifying and reporting potential security threats. Clear security policies and procedures must be established and to ensure that employees understand them.

Data backup is also essential to protect data from accidental deletion, hardware failure, and other disasters. A data backup strategy that includes regular backups and testing should be implemented to ensure data can be recovered after a disaster.

Continuous monitoring of systems is also essential to detect and respond to security threats. Vulnerability scanning tools and firewalls should be deployed to monitor systems for potential security threats.

Regular security audits can also help identify gaps in an organization’s data protection policies and procedures. It is best to conduct regular security audits to protect data and identify areas for improvement.

Staying up to date with security threats is also essential to protecting an organization’s data. Security news and updates must be followed, and security patches and updates must be deployed as soon as they become available.

Despite of all these efforts, it is still possible for data to be compromised. That is why it is important to have an incident response plan that outlines what actions are to be taken in the event of a data breach, including who will be responsible for responding to the breach – and also how one notifies the stakeholders of it.

Data protection is essential for an organization in today’s digital age. Now I am talking to the leader of the organization. As a leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that your organization’s data is protected from threats such as theft, hacking, and accidental deletion! By at least following some of these practices, you can help ensure that your organization’s data is better protected, and that you are prepared to respond in the event of a data breach.


Skyhigh Security 2022. BlueBleed Leak Proves Again, Not All Cloud Service Providers are Secure. Available at: Referenced 13th September 2023.

Tom Tuunainen
R&D Developer
Centria University of Applied Sciences
Tel. +358 40 681 7207