Just because you have a firewall, an anti-virus and anti-malware software installed in your network and computers doesn’t mean that you are safe from a data breach. Thinking that your business is not as important or appealing to hackers is worse. The fact of the matter is this: YOU ARE VULNERABLE.
Any business or any individual, in the case which is applicable, is prime target for bad guys. Data breaches have great and immeasurable consequences. Financial losses can be accounted for but tangible effects like your brand suffering and loss of customer loyalty are immeasurable, and often too great of a consequence. According to a 2010 Ponemon study, total breach costs have grown every year since 2006, and in 2010, data breaches cost companies an average of $214 per compromised record, up $10 (5 percent) from last year. It seems fighting hackers is now part of an IT guy’s everyday job – mitigation and protection is crucial.
Every business nowadays is connected to a network in some way. This is where the need for IT security comes in. IT security isn’t just the hardware and software installed to secure your computer network – it is more than a one-time security deal. It is a continuous, constantly evolving process that needs assessment, management, maintenance, revisions and upgrades.
Look beyond IT Security Programs
Look beyond the IT department when assessing your company’s data breach risks. A company must evaluate employee exit strategies (HR), remote project protocol, on- and off-site data storage practices, establish and enforce security policies and procedures to eliminate threats.
Have Open Communications with Your Vendor
If you rely on outside vendors for systems or network maintenance and storage, be sure you communicate regularly with your provider. Choosing one is a different topic altogether.
Educate Your Employees – Make This a Priority
Touch base with your employees and let them know they are also responsible for keeping your systems, network and files secure – avoid unsecured sites and downloading files from questionable sources. They should also know the process on reporting a security breach or identifying a potential loophole in the system that can lead to a bigger data breach – example: unauthorized password resets.
Deploy Security Patches Regularly
Keep current with security patches to protect against known vulnerabilities. This is a simple and basic but effective means of securing your network.
The less information you have around, the less vulnerable you are to theft. Only collect information that you really need to make your business more efficient.
Use Strategies to Maximize Security
- Monitor access. Restrict access if necessary. Insider threats are as common as hackers.
- Consider insurance. Risk transfer through insurance for controlling the damages from a potential data breach is another hot topic these days.
- Tighten e-mail and web access security. Phishing is mostly done through e-mail and phishing websites.
- Employ identity management. Have a strong identity management system to control access to critical applications.
Security is often an afterthought for businesses. Building security into technology systems before you start using them is always a good idea.