Computer security is a massive problem for individuals, governments, and companies.
There is a non-stop series of attacks underway, with thousands of attempts going on each day. When those attempts break through, the damage done can be massive.
Identities can be stolen, funds can be diverted, and corporate intellectual property can be lost.
The process of recovering from such an event will never be complete; once an idea is lost to a competitor, it's nearly impossible to regain it.
Because most companies have a wide array of potential access points for hackers, they are always at risk. Targeted attacks are widespread now and create an opportunity for hackers to make their move.
Companies must have everything in place and up to date before anyone tries to access company data.
This is well understood by most IT personnel within a company, but it bears repeating for the workers who are not directly involved in the security complex. Keeping the issues fresh in their minds will increase their attentiveness and reduce the chances of a breach.
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Everyone in the company should be at a high level of alertness in how they handle the following areas.
Social Media by Employees and the Company
In the stream-of-consciousness world of social media, the old saying that "Loose lips sink ships" remains true today. Content and security must be carefully monitored. Reckless posts by employees can find their way to hackers, yielding valuable information that will permit them to victimize the company.
Trending topics and the use of hashtags can help hackers find those revealing posts. Once they see something about a new idea or activity in the company, they will be motivated to investigate further, and the employee's information could provide the access they need. Even if it doesn't facilitate corporate espionage, such a post can help a hacker zero in on an individual and attempt to steal his or her identity.
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Of course, it isn't just the employees' posts that present a threat. The company can often damage itself. It is the rare company that doesn't have a presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or SnapChat. Imagine a company tweeting "Completing final stages of payroll system upgrade today! #networksecurity." What does this tell a hacker? First, it tells that the current system is inadequate on security and second, it points out that a new one is not up and running yet. The hashtag makes it easy to find, and soon a hacker can be on the case.
Computer-savvy employees probably reacted with real skepticism when the concept of the Cloud was introduced. Their reaction made sense: if it's not stored here, who can get it? In time, the system became second nature, and as it often does, complacency sets in. Security became lax, passwords got stale, and inappropriate files with malware and spyware landed on company servers.
Companies must work to keep the urgency and reality of Cloud security at the front of their employees' minds. Staff meetings, company emails, or any other means can be effective in reminding everyone to use the Cloud judiciously and to maintain high-security standards. Because of its size, Cloud storage permits large quantities of data to reside there. As a result, the potential risk of a breach is massive. Employees must be alert to this risk at all times.
Your Online Presence
Because so much of a company's online life is based on social media now, we may forget the relevance and power of standard dot-com websites. It is in these systems where E-commerce takes place, and where potential customers with limited social media skills will first try to find you. Because of the diverted attention of companies, websites are growing in their vulnerability. IT personnel are focusing their protection in the Cloud and elsewhere at the expense of the traditional website.
This is a serious lapse. While social media breaches are problematic, a website hack can also yield credit card, bank account, and personal identity information, much of which is not available through social media. And while the web content is often stored in the Cloud, it is far less secure when visited through a browser.
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Security is an evolving field. The company that rests on its laurels today is the company that gets hacked tomorrow. There is no room to relax or back off. The good news is that as long as we are attentive to security, the likelihood of a targeted attack is much lower.