Technology has made our lives immeasurably easier but it also exposes today’s businesses to a new assortment of risks. From data theft to email invasions, privacy breaches can spell disaster for your company. Of course, you can’t just do away with technology—no contemporary business can do without it—but it’s also unacceptable to simply allow for these risks as part of doing business.
No, the only solution is for businesses to be proactive and proceed with vigilance. By enacting safety measures in advance of any security breaks, your business can assure clients that you’ve taken every step possible to protect them, while also allowing you to move forward in your own ventures with confidence. It’s important to always remember that privacy is your responsibility.
Now that you’re ready to set up your privacy controls, do you know where the threats to your company lie? Here are a few key sites of danger in your business infrastructure to assess for potential security gaps.
The Dangers Of Mobile Devices
We are all attached at the hip these days to increasingly high tech cell phones, tablets and other mobile devices, and because of this technology dependence, many employees are using their phones and other unsecured devices to manage company data. They may save information, share it over a mobile network, or hook their phone up to the corporate network without the correct protections.
One study showed that “mobile security breaches have affected more than two-thirds (68 percent) of global organizations in the last 12 months.” This is clearly a big problem.
Because of the many uses of mobile devices, it is unsurprising that they are also responsible for a variety of security risks. One common problem is that according to JD Sherry “More than 50 percent of employees frequently or very frequently store sensitive company data on their unsecure laptops, tablets, smartphones or other mobile devices.” When one of those employees leaves their phone behind in a taxi or drops it on the subway, that private information may end up in the hands of a competitor or scam artist.
Another reason mobile devices are a threat to business security is that malware unknowingly installed on a device, if given access to a secure company network, may open up the network to invasion, or carry data out from it, regardless of the security level. The malware could come from any number apps or phishing emails and go easily undetected by employees.
Related Article: Is Your Small Business Vulnerable to Security Threats?
Penetrating The Cloud
Another popular trend in business today is shifting storage and even certain kinds of networking and conference connections to the cloud. If you ask around, most people can’t tell you more about the cloud than that it exists somewhere out there, and for the layman, that is enough information. For a business worried about information security, however, a deeper understanding of the cloud and the risks it poses is vital.
At the very least, what all businesses need to understand about the cloud is that, while its nebulousness may seem to make it less accessible to hackers, that false sense of security is exactly what data thieves are hoping for. When we think of the cloud as the mystical out there, we allow ourselves to think it doesn’t need the same protections our servers on the ground have. In fact, the cloud requires similar kinds of encryption and safeguards to a traditional server.
Related Article: Cloud Security: How to Protect Your Business from Data Leaks
Part of the specialization that has come with new tech innovations is the reality that it is impossible and unnecessary for most businesses to employ people with every skill set they need, from data entry personnel up to the highest level IT specialist. This idea is almost ludicrous, particularly for small businesses. So, in order to manage these specialization shortfalls, companies have to outsource.
The problem with outsourcing technology management is that the people outside the company who do the work often need high level access to company data storage. They need passwords and encryption keys and the codes and keys to open any other safety measure you may have put in place. They need the all access pass.
It’s for these reasons that incautious outsourcing has been behind several of the most high profile security breaches recently—think Target and Home Depot. In fact, it’s thought that most security infringements are in some way related to contractor actions. It’s important to always remember that contractors have no personal investments in your data and they may not treat it with the same care that you would.
Related Article: What Target Should Have Done to Prevent Their Security Breach
Digital Safety Solutions
With all of these potential dangers lurking and threatening your business, what can you do? Here are three vital steps you can take to protect yourself and your business from these problems and more.
- Encrypt your email. Email encryption is one of the most important steps you can take in a world where most business is conducted through email correspondence. It doesn’t matter whether you’re working with a private email service or going to mainstream route with Gmail, this is a necessary procedure. Gmail, in fact, offers a number of ways to help keep your account secure. If you’re working with a private email company, consult with them about the security features they offer. Any reputable company will have a list of ways to keep your email safe.
- Perform a data inventory. One of the big problems any company has today is that we simply house too much data. Indeed, business servers have become warehouses of unused information. Jennifer Schiff of Small Business Computing recommends that one way for to protect yourself and your customers is to take a close look at what information is there. Do you use it? Do you need it? In many cases, it would be safer for everyone involved if companies requested personal information on a case-by-case basis and, if only for infrequent use, disposed of it safely when done.
- Pay attention to passwords. This may seem rudimentary, but your employees probably don’t change their passwords as often as they should. Even if you have a company policy about password changes, does it specify the security level of those passwords? Business passwords should never be common words and should be difficult to unscramble. Also, because of the risks posed by mobile technology, it is worth putting a policy in place about password protection of mobile devices. At least then you can ensure that if there is sensitive data stored on phones, there is less of a chance it can be easily accessed.