As workplaces around the globe become increasingly internet-reliant, business owners have reasons to be concerned. Modern employees frequently access work-related material on personal devices. Cloud storage and virtualization require a persistent internet connection to be of any use. While these changes have successfully improved efficiency, they also leave businesses vulnerable to new security threats.
Internet threats today have the capacity to seriously harm businesses and customers. A lost or stolen smartphone can give hackers access to an untold amount of data. Uninformed employees on social media can inadvertently leak sensitive information. Ransomware on the cloud can limit access to necessary data. All of these scenarios happen everyday; in fact, thirty million breaches have been identified by the Identity Theft Resource Center thus far in 2016. What can businesses do to prevent such threats? Here are three major concerns that business owners should address:
“Bring Your Own Device” Policies
A common trend in modern workplaces is to implement BYOD policies. There are obvious benefits to allowing employees to work on-the-go: This level of access improves productivity. Giving employees access to work applications and data can be a smart move. On the other hand, unauthorized individuals may also gain access to that same information. If a device is stolen, hacked, or otherwise compromised, sensitive data might be leaked.
There are several aspects that can determine whether a BYOD policy will succeed or fail. The policy should clearly indicate which devices are permitted to access work information and applications. Furthermore, employees should be informed about programs and applications that are not allowed to be used during work hours. Finally, an “exit strategy” should be in place, should an employee resign or be terminated; emails, other accounts, and login credentials should be revoked from former employees.
Improper Handling of Sensitive Information
It can be difficult to prevent employees from checking out social media while on the clock. Many workplaces prevent users from accessing to Facebook or Twitter, but there are relatively simple ways to bypass such restrictions. However, it turns out that businesses owners have restricted access to social media for some a good reason: Uninformed employees can accidentally cause huge data breaches. An even worse scenario is when a disgruntled employee or former employee seeks to intentionally cause harm to a business.
One of the best ways to enhance computer network security is to restrict access to sensitive information to only those who absolutely need it. In addition to using non-disclosure agreements, employers should stress that accessing unauthorized documents could lead to termination. Whenever an employee shares information on Facebook, they must be careful to not disclose sensitive information. Besides directly disclosing such information, videos or photos taken at the workplace can inadvertently contain information that should not be shared. Social media should be prohibited at work.
It would also behoove business owners to consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN extends a private network, allowing authorized users to remotely access documents from a workplace. When used appropriately, it is a secure method of controlling access to documents.
Viruses and Malware
Spammy emails and shady links on social media can cause work computers to become infected with viruses and malware. In the best case, this can lead to some serious inconveniences. In other cases — if a businesses relies heavily on virtualization, for instance — malicious software can utterly shutter production, or give rogue users access to libraries of sensitive documents. Such businesses often have to rely on data recovery experts to practically rebuild their infrastructure.
Two preventative measures that entrepreneurs can take against viruses and malware are to install antivirus software and carefully monitor internet activity. Antivirus software is intended to prevent, detect, and remove malware. Monitoring internet activity is essential. Not only can poor internet habits lead to a loss of productivity, but it can also cause legal complications. For example: If an employee is exposed to offensive content by a co-worker, a harassment suit may follow. Many companies offer monitoring software, and using it is a wise investment for any business.
There are clearly new concerns for businesses that no previous generation had to contend with. Navigating such issues can be a hassle, but it is essential to plan ahead. With the proper procedures and preventative measures in place, disaster can be averted.