Leveraging & Understanding IT Security

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Taking steps to protect your company’s data, hardware, and IT investment is a key part of your duty as an IT professional. When it comes to security, it’s critical to think of the potential to shape your organization through opportunities rather than see security measures as hurdles to productivity.

Security continues to be a cornerstone of IT efforts as the digital age shows no signs of slowing. Where there is any digital activity, there is potential for a breach—in fact, it is predicted that cybercrime will cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021. Most attackers target small-to-medium businesses, as they’re aware that organizations of this size might not have solid cybersecurity measures in place.

Here are the top four considerations for implementing and innovating security procedures within your company.

Create a culture of IT security

The vast majority of security breaches happen because of negligence, ignorance, or malicious intent from employees. If your company has a lax culture when it comes to security, it’s bound to lead to someone making a mistake that could effectively shut the doors of your company.

According to Wesley Simpson, COO of (ISC)2, patching your human knowledge is just as important as patching and updating your software. He says, “Your people are your assets, and you need to invest in them continually. If you don't get your people patched continually, you're always going to have vulnerabilities. Even in a company with hundreds of employees, it's worth training them as opposed to taking on the risk of a breach.”

Conduct regular training with each of your employees, starting at onboarding. Setting the mindset of security from the start of employment and regularly reinforcing it throughout an employees tenure (at least once annually) will help to educate your team about the importance of IT security, as well as best practices for ensuring that they aren’t falling for phishing attempts or other common attacks.

Leverage AI and machine learning for security

One of the most terrifying parts of IT security breaches? You might not even know one has occurred until months later. On average, 68% of breaches took months or longer to discover. Effective use of machine learning and AI can reduce the time to identify breaches, making it easier to respond as quickly as possible and reduce the impact a breach has on business data. With cloud computing and automation on the rise in the workplace, it only makes sense to continue that push in cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity systems can leverage artificial intelligence to analyze data from past breaches, simulate potential outcomes of a new breach, and easily detect existing and future vulnerabilities. Analyzing past breaches won’t necessarily prevent future attacks, but can ensure that your defenses are in place in the event an attacker attempts a similar approach. Keeping up-to-date on new and emerging threats can prepare you to stay ahead of the threat landscape. It’s safe to say that you don’t want to be behind the curve in the event of a new and unique attack.

Rather than thinking of machine learning and AI systems as a cure-all for your security problems, consider them fortifications for your existing procedures. If you think about viruses in human terms: AI isn’t the cure for the common cold. AI is a vitamin-enriched supplement to your existing immune system that can help your defenses stay solid.

Enhance your IT team’s control over devices

As employees become more tech-savvy, many take IT troubleshooting and installations into their own hands. Shadow IT, or the use of IT projects and products outside of, and without the knowledge of the IT department, is becoming increasingly common in workplaces and poses a critical threat.

Over 80% of employees admit to using shadow IT applications in the office, a critical issue that threatens cyber security and poses serious compliance risks. Shadow IT usage includes software, cloud services, or even hardware on a business network—without the consent or knowledge of your IT department. Bring your own device (BYOD) policies, while cost-saving on hardware can pose network threats if one of your employees uses a device with a virus on your business networks.

Since internal IT departments by definition do not know about shadow IT usage until it’s too late, it’s impossible to prevent the damage unless you have proper protections in place. Make sure that your WiFi networks are secure and connections are encrypted. Require employees to register any devices they’re using under bring your own device (BYOD) policies, and place admin requirements on company-owned hardware to prevent the installation of shadow applications.

Secure Data In The Cloud

Almost all of what we do over the web is in the cloud with cloud-based servers, email, data storage, applications, and computing. This means communication between the computer hardware that sits in your office and the cloud needs to be secure. With connectivity and the flow of conversation, there are concerns about vulnerability, privacy, and reliability. This has resulted in a need to protect data in the cloud, which has given rise to the need for cloud computing security.

Security for your computers, your network and your data need to be optimized for the cloud. Businesses that use public clouds, private clouds, or a hybrid cloud need to protect the exchange of data between them and their associates, clients, and employees.

Your IT department should be proactively involved in developing a cloud security framework, which means the creation of a strategic framework to control how all operation will take place in a cloudーbe it public, private, or hybrid cloud, you should be able to manage access, protect data, and more.

Compliance requirements are evolving

As data breaches become more common and companies collect more data as part of their day-to-day business practices, regulations around data protection have evolved. Consumer data is extremely important to business functions, but compliance violations can be costly, both when it comes to financial penalties and damage to your reputation.

The General Data Protection Act (GDPR) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are two recent regulations that control how individual data is handled, including how the consent to collect data is given and how data can be used. These regulations, and similar ones in various states and countries, aim to protect data privacy and consumer rights while penalizing misuse of data and negligence that contributes to data breaches.

These regulations also have specific requirements for data breach notification, and financial compensation that must be awarded to each consumer impacted by a data breach. These regulations, therefore, compound the existing high costs of data breaches. Violation can also result in fines, making compliance critical even if you’ve never experienced a breach.

It’s up to the IT department to lead the charge in security and compliance education, as you’re likely to face a major issue if these regulations aren’t followed. It’s absolutely critical that knowledge of these requirements is shared in every department in order to make sure that no data is misused through negligence and that every employee takes ownership over compliance.

Get IT security advice from industry professionals

It isn’t enough to just train your company’s employees on standards and best practices—you should lead by example and seek out education and guidance to improve your organization’s IT security practices. One of the best ways to learn new approaches to IT security and data breach prevention is to consult with other experts and model your security policies after best-in-class organizations.  

Whether you’re looking for quick tips, answers to questions, help to solve a specific problem, or a fully detailed learning plan for your IT team to improve security, Experts Exchange can help. With over 1,500 available training sessions and hundreds of thousands of daily users, Experts Exchange is the leading knowledge-sharing and training platform for the IT industry.

We carefully vet each of our certified IT experts to ensure that you’re getting the most informed, up-to-date professional help in a wide variety of topics related not only to security. Improve the way your organization handles implementation, development, and cloud-based technologies with assistance from Experts Exchange.

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