While hackers and cyber-criminals get all the attention, there are other security risks businesses face every day. Many of those non-hacker risks are underappreciated, and that means they often go unaddressed until it is too late.
Insider risks to the security and integrity of company data can be just as significant as the risk of a devastating hack from the outside. Just as importantly, insider risks are often more likely, making addressing them vitally important. Here are five insider security challenges you face as a business owner in the 21st century — and what you can do to address them.
#1. Poor Training and Lack of Guidance from Management
These two insider security threats may seem separate, but they are actually closely related. Poor training can lead to all manner of security problems, from the employee who unwittingly clicks an infected link on a phishing email to the executive who falls for a targeted phishing scam, something known as spear phishing.
The failure to properly train employees on security procedures and the importance of following best practices online often comes from the top. Managers who are not tech-savvy themselves may not fully grasp the importance of online security, while cash-strapped executives may erroneously think that enhancing security will cost too much.
No matter where the problem comes from, there are ways to turn things around and improve security from the ground up. Including a section on cyber-security in each new hire packet and reinforcing those lessons with regular training sessions will go a long way toward improving security and reducing insider threats.
#2. Underpaid IT Staff (or No IT Staff At All)
As security threats to businesses get worse and worse, the demand for highly trained IT security staff goes up accordingly. That means the best IT staff members can command higher and higher salaries, much to the dismay of many executives.
It is tempting to try to cut corners when hiring IT staff, but those short-term cost savings could come with some serious long-term consequences. IT staffers who are willing to work for less than the going rate may not have the latest skills, and they may not fully understand the current security threats businesses face.
Business owners can address this risk by assessing the training and expertise of their existing IT staff and filling in the security gaps. Executive teams can also conduct regular salary surveys to make sure pay for their IT staffers is competitive with what others are offering.
#3. Outdated Software
Keeping software up-to-date and fully patched can be a time-consuming, and expensive, endeavour for any business, especially small firms that are already struggling to make payroll and eke out a profit. As a result, many small firms, and a surprising number of large ones, fail to apply the latest patches to the operating systems powering their desktop computers, servers and other equipment.
Failing to keep company software updated is a major security risk and one that can create many more problems down the line. Patching all those servers, desktops and mobile devices can be expensive, but getting hacked will be even more costly.
Businesses can protect themselves by instituting, and sticking to, a strict schedule of security patches and upgrades. From putting their updates on automatic to assigning a member of the IT staff to seek out the latest security risks, there are many ways to address this insider risk and keep company data as secure as possible.
#4. A Poor Password Policy
No matter what the nature of the business or how well (or poorly) trained the IT staff and management teams, a good password is the first line of defense against both insider and outsider security threats. A good password can keep hackers and external bad guys at bay, and it can also protect individual employees from the prying eyes of their colleagues.
Business owners who want to enhance their security should take a good look at how they handle passwords and password changes. From the length and complexity of the password to how often those credentials must be changed, a few common-sense precautions can greatly enhance the security of the entire business. Consider a tool like password generator to create stronger passwords across the organization.
The management team should also direct the IT staff to look for devices with static passwords or automated logins. These automatic logins and static passwords could quickly become vectors for a security breach, particularly by disgruntled workers and recently fired members of the IT team.
#5. An Incomplete, or Nonexistent, Backup Plan
One of the fastest growing security threats is ransomware, a particularly insidious security risk that lets hackers take control of company data. Once they have control, the hackers encrypt the files and hold it for ransom, threatening to delete the files if the firm does not pay up.
The threat to delete data loses its power for companies with a solid backup plan but backing up their files is something many businesses fail to do. Having an incomplete, inconsistent or nonexistent backup plan is a huge blunder in today’s dangerous world, and one that business owners cannot afford to make.
To address this serious insider security threat, management teams should ensure their files, from locally-stored desktop data to centrally-located server files, are being backed up on at least a daily basis. Ongoing backups throughout the day are even better, as is storing data offsite to protect against physical damage to the facilities.
It is easy to blame hackers for the security threats businesses face, but some of the most significant challenges come from the inside. Until they address the five common insider risks outlined above, no business can claim to be truly secure.
More About CP Cyber
CP Cyber is a full service cyber security consulting firm helping our clients uncover risks and build top of the line defenses to prevent cyber crimes. To find out more about us visit our homepage here: https://cpcyber.com/ or follow our Colorado Cyber Security Google Page.