Over the next three years, we’ll create more data than we did over the previous 30 years, according to IDC. Consumers and companies are both inputting and sharing more information with each other, which means you need to be even more strategic about ways to keep that data secure.  

One way to do that is through the Principle of Least Privilege. Per the Computer Security Resource Center, this is “the principle that users and programs should only have the necessary privileges to complete their tasks.”

Similarly, Zero Trust builds on the concept of “never trust, always verify” to evaluate permissions and resources on a recurring basis. The National Institute of Standards and Technology defines Zero Trust as providing “a collection of concepts and ideas designed to minimize uncertainty in enforcing accurate, least privilege per-request access decisions in information systems and services in the face of a network viewed as compromised.”

Implementing these principles helps protect sensitive data, yet some organizations opt for convenience over security. That decision can lead to troubling scenarios — here are three common ways allowing employees too much access to data can torpedo your company’s chances for success. 

  1. Not Updating Security Practices During Company Growth

When your company is in its early stages, there’s typically a skeleton IT team. Sometimes, it may just be one person managing all user accounts while also serving as support staff for any security issues that arise.

To save time and frustration, the IT team might offer the same access to everyone in the organization. After all, people in startup-phase companies often chip in on multiple roles, and they need to stay agile as the company grows.

However, once the company gets larger and job roles are more clearly defined, IT departments don’t always go back and make the necessary changes to keep data secure. They use the same onboarding framework for new hires as they did for the early staff, and they don’t adjust for the shifting roles of current employees.

That combination can lead to the majority of the company having over-privileged access, which is a poor security practice.     

  1. Granting Additional Permissions After a Breach – And Then Not Resetting Them

Even if you’ve done an excellent job limiting the amount of data new hires can access, a breach will likely still occur at some point. Per the Identity Theft Resource Center, there were 1,862 data breaches in 2021, a record for a single year. 

When that happens, it requires a swift, thoughtful response from your organization. Customers may lose some trust when a breach occurs, but how you react to the breach and reassure your customer base can help regain their confidence.

Handling a breach often requires several people working together, typically needing high-level access to ensure a thorough response. To promptly address these major incidents, organizations often grant additional permissions to specific people on the IT team or even throughout the company. 

The problem with this approach is that organizations might not revert to original access levels once the issue gets resolved. Now, multiple people within the company have more access than needed, potentially compromising sensitive information. 

  1. Workers Leaving the Company — And Taking Data with Them

Ghost employees are employees who are no longer with your organization. Yet they can leave a lasting impact. For example, Security Magazine reports that a former employee of Fintech giant Block (previously known as Square) caused a data breach that affected 8.2 million users when they downloaded reports from Cash App.

It’s imperative to quickly delete any company accounts former employees once had, including SaaS apps covering CRM, analytics, accounting, and other business-critical apps.

Dragging your feet in removing those accounts increases the likelihood of a data leak. A malicious actor can take advantage of an unused but active account. And if an employee leaves the organization on bad terms, they might become the bad actor and take a spiteful approach with those accounts and company data.

This scenario is further complicated by remote work. Remote workers might send themselves files with sensitive data to their personal email accounts. When the employee leaves the company, any work files saved in a personal account, on a personal device, or backed up to a personal hard drive, remain with the employee. Suddenly, PII or other company data is more vulnerable, as it’s unprotected outside company walls.

What You Can Do Instead for Data Security

While too much data access can quickly bring a company down, you can adopt a strategy based on a Zero Trust model for allowing both employees and customers to access information.

Many companies have worked on protecting endpoints, networks, and application access, yet there previously hasn’t been a solution to control data visibility within an application. But Nullafi has solved that problem.

To combat data loss, Nullafi intelligently recognizes and obfuscates sensitive data in transit, before it gets to a user’s device. It doesn’t matter where the data originates, what field it’s in, or how it’s labeled. This agentless approach means Nullafi works anytime, anywhere, with any application or data.

Wouldn’t it feel great to mitigate third-party data risk, insider threats, improper data exposure, and other compliance issues? With Nullafi, you can experience that peace of mind in less than 15 minutes simply by changing a single configuration file in your network.

Don’t let your data security reach troubling levels. Contact us today to get started.

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