Gone are the days when installing one antivirus software means your company’s IT security is all good to go. Now, there are many different security threats that exist causing businesses all over the world serious damages. Not even tech giants like Facebook and Quora could escape the data breach nightmare.
As a business owner, protecting your company from these potential security threats should be high in your priority list. But what exactly should you look out for?
Here are four of the most common weaknesses many companies do not realise they currently have when it comes to their IT security.
1. Obsolete Malware Protection
When was the last time you updated your antivirus program on your computer? Did you renew your anti-malware software when it prompted you to do so? Or maybe you hit ‘ignore’ when a virus scan window came up while using a borrowed USB drive?
These are just some common things employees and even business owners are guilty of. Most people believe themselves too busy to even bother with these malware protection measures.
However, while updating your anti-malware program may seem like a bothersome task, it can actually protect you from a major data loss. One of the biggest threats when it comes to the IT security of a business is being a victim of a cyber-attack.
These attacks are often caused by malware or malicious software including viruses, ransomware, worms, spyware, trojans, etc. These malware attacks often lead to data breach and could permanently ruin the financial health as well as the reputation of a business.
What is unfortunate, however, is that many small and medium businesses are complacent when it comes to protecting themselves from malware attacks. According to a UK study, two-thirds of UK small businesses do not think that they are vulnerable to a cyber-attack.
What many do not realise is that SMEs are often easy targets because hackers know that most of the smaller enterprises do not apply strict security measures. Business owners must be aware of these potential threats and ensure that their malware protection programs are always updated in order to combat sophisticated cyber-attacks.
2. Slack Access Control Policies
While most business owners may agree that not all of their employees need to know every single detail about the company, many of them still fail to secure their critical business data from prying eyes and ears.
In the olden days, an employee needs to go through dusty files and folders in the storeroom or request these from a document controller before gaining access to company information.
Now, it is very easy for employees to just click a few icons and find digital files stored in the company network if strict access control policies are not in place.
Just like how you would keep highly confidential physical files under lock and key, it is also important to ensure that access to your company’s digital data is limited only to employees who have a need to know basis.
For example, the office receptionist should not have the same level of access as the operations manager. Enforcing an effective access control policy is super important especially when it comes to protecting sensitive data such as financial information, legal documents, and client information.
Controlling access does not only apply to internal employees. There are many instances when companies grant IT access to other people outside of the organisation such as suppliers who provide services to the company.
In many cases, when the service contract expires, there are companies who forget to revoke this access thereby opening themselves to security risks. Other common concerns include having an unreliable service provider or if there is a dispute between the two parties.
In order to avoid these instances, organisations must be extra cautious about who to provide access to. For instance, if you are utilising remote diagnostics services that allow third-party users to have access to your system, it is very crucial to ensure that your suppliers are trustworthy.
While there is really no 100% guarantee, performing due diligence to check the company’s background and getting first-hand testimonials from their existing clients would be ideal.
3. Negligent use of Laptops and Mobile Devices Outside the Workplace
The beauty of technology is having the capability to perform work without being stuck to the office. Thanks to mobile devices, laptops, and the internet, you can plug-in wherever you are and still complete your daily work deliverables.
You can choose to work right at home in your pyjamas or maybe while sipping margaritas by the beach. Up to you! If you are a business owner, it means that you can have your employees enjoy flexible working times or work from home. This not only account for savings on utility costs but also on office space.
However, having employees working remotely also has its downsides. There have been many situations wherein the use of company-issued laptops and mobile devices have resulted to theft and data loss. In fact, believe it or not, lost devices cause some of the world’s biggest data breaches.
In the UK, 25% of the data breaches suffered by banks resulted from lost or stolen devices. Another research found that 86% of IT practitioners report that a person in their organisation has had a laptop stolen or lost. What this shows is that human error is still a big factor when it comes to securing your digital assets.
Companies must then enforce IT security measures such as data encryption as well as orient employees regarding physically securing their devices when working outside the office.
4. Use of Unsecured Networks, Devices, and Applications
No matter how stringent your company’s IT security measures are, these efforts will be all for naught if you expose your network and digital assets to unauthorised or unsecured activities. These risky actions are often performed by employees who are unaware of the consequences or maybe they choose to disregard the risks. Here are some examples:
Connecting to an unsecured public WiFi while doing business transactions such as those that are financial or legal in nature. This could expose important information like credit card details or confidential contracts to hackers.
Allowing employees to use personal devices and connect to the company’s internet network, which could cause the corruption of company data.
If an employee connects a personal laptop to access the network and starts transferring files, this could risk virus transfer and even data theft.
Opening websites with a lot of adware and downloading unreliable applications or files, using torrents, or utilising other pirated sites that may contain malware. Many employees often download songs or movies from websites that are filled with malware.
Opening clickbait emails from unreliable sources. According to findings by the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Report, 92.4% of malware is delivered via email.
What’s very alarming is that most people are unconsciously performing these actions without realising that these can compromise their business IT security. Therefore, enacting IT policies and making employees aware of these different risks are highly recommended.
Strengthening Your Business IT Security
The process of safeguarding the IT security of any business is not a one-time thing. This is an ongoing process that business owners must commit to. While it may seem like an unnecessary, costly exercise, protecting your business early on is much better than suffering from irreparable damage in the future.