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  • 3 Security Gaps Leaving Your Company Exposed

    Pause for a moment as you read this, and consider: Are there any aspects of doing business that technology hasn’t reshaped or transformed? In roughly two decades, technological advances revolutionized various industries and markets, allowing businesses to communicate more quickly and conveniently with their customers.

    While many prefer to still see and talk to a “real, live human being,” technology can break down barriers and get the customer in the door. Unfortunately, cyber-crime represents a growing barrier to business success where online robbery of private data can be both unexpected and detrimental to the customer-company relationship — sometimes sinking businesses before they get established.

    Protecting Your Company’s Digital Neighborhood Matters

    Think of that pocket of private data, all code, ones and zeros, as your digital address. It’s your neighborhood, and someone comes into your neighborhood and wrecks your business online they way robbers do IRL — in real life. In 2014, the approximated storage size of the internet was 10^24 bytes, or 1 million exabytes — think of a byte as an unit of data holding 8 bits, like a glass of water holds 8 ounces. That is a single character in a word read online, and an exabyte equals 1 billion billion bytes. Data hungry, yet?

    Computing capacity grows twice its size every three years, and in 2007, researchers found that mobile networks outpaced voice traffic. That was a big change for businesses, but all of these astounding statistics aside, cyber-crime poses an evolutionary threat for company survival and places them in an unique position — stopping cyber-crime in real-time isn’t currently realistic, but companies can spearhead the fight against data theft, even heading off the criminals with prevention methods. Check out these three security gaps leaving your company exposed.

    1. Regularly Pen Test to Prevent Hacks

    “Welcome to the neighborhood!” your client portals indicate, but your dedicated network neighborhood is sometimes prone to outside threats from criminals. You don’t mean for it to happen, but like any crime, it can strike anywhere and at any time. Your trusted network isn’t trusted anymore when customer data is compromised, and business operations can’t continue as a result of infrastructure penetration.

    Some of these network neighborhood invasions take place as an infection of malware encryption, data beach or a denial-of-service (DOS) attack. How strong are your defenses?

    Use penetration testing to test the strength network defenses. Professionals are certified with a code of ethics to ethically hack your network and see what they find — with the ability to provide every mouse click and step taken to break in, with video and screenshots. Tell the ethical hacker as much as you want them to know and leave out certain computer assets, like web servers. Decide if you want hackers to see what they can do to interrupt service like a real hacker word or restrict the limit of their probing in various testing steps.

    Regularly test to prevent hacks. Conduct your passes in stages, including scheduled and randomized tests.

    1. The Cloud: Presenting Easy Access For All

    Since the cloud floated onto the web scene, it represented endless potential for inexhaustible computing, for a cost. It presents easy access for all, including hackers. A large cloud is highly visible and prone to cyber attacks for that reason.

    Prevent attacks on cloud resources by consulting with an IT professional and managing all remote access permissions from your environment to the cloud and vice versa. They may recommend utilizing a virtual private network (VPN) that adds a private layer of protection before you log in, avoiding attack from your Wi-Fi connection. Make sure the team you work with is available 24/7 to stay on top of alerts — you’ll need them to enable logging on the cloud properties to maintain a trail for auditing, just in case an attack occurs.

    3. You May Think You’re Compliant, But Are You?

    Aside from intentional hacking and data theft, security slip-ups happen. It’s important to educate staff members about data legislature and get compliant. You could face lawsuits and wreck your business if you don’t. Education and action are key to prevention.

    One best practice and aspect of legislature is that those affected by the data breach must be notified first, and failure to do so comes with high business risks according to some policies. For example, under the updated GDPR enforced by the European Union, failure to notify a data protection authority of a breach within 72 hours results in a 4 percent loss of annual revenue or €20 million — whatever is first. With Brexit in effect, British citizens could go unprotected.

    Most similar laws consider private data as a type of information security asset, but the issue of data rights continues to evolve as companies use this knowledge for marketing purposes, among others. What data should client be able to tell you to delete? Do company rights go out the window when that data is breached? Keep up to date with legislature or face the consequences. Newer companies are advised to work with third party IT consultants to establish and maintain compliance.

    Technological growth is intrinsically linked with business evolution and success. Your company must rise to the call to protect private data while it remains compliant and ethical as it goes about daily business.

    This is something you can’t outsource and forget. Your company must be hands-on and vigilant when it comes to penetration testing and managing cloud permission access, among others. To ignore these security gaps risks leaving both you and your customers exposed, and at worst, more than your reputation is ruined — you go under. Spearhead the fight to protect private data and thrive.

    Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and Digital Marketing Specialist. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to sharing advice on navigating the work world. Passionate about helping others find happiness and success in their careers, she shares advice on everything from the job search and entrepreneurship to professional development, and more! Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum

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