Former FBI director Robert Mueller once said, “There are only two types of companies: those that have been hacked and those that will be.” Security is an issue that can’t be taken lightly because every network is vulnerable. IT departments should proceed as if an attack is imminent so that they are prepared to prevent potential threats — or recover from the attacks that do get through.
There are several factors that increase a company’s vulnerability to a security breach:
- The prevalence of legacy networks increases vulnerability because hackers are continually upgrading their own abilities and skills while the legacy IT network falls further behind the security curve.
- Companies are naturally more focused on their core business than on keeping up with IT security concerns, which gives hackers an opportunity to breach IT networks while attention is focused elsewhere.
- Insufficient security measures allow sophisticated hackers to access networks with relative ease. For instance, some companies avoid multi-step authentication in a bid to save time and streamline processes. But those few minutes “saved” can result in data breaches that could cost the company millions of dollars.
- Human factors are always a huge source of security risk and are difficult to mitigate. Passwords are often inadequate and can be guessed, lost, or stolen. Often well-meaning but unsuspecting employees hand hackers the keys to company networks without even realizing they’ve done so.
- The addition of network interfaces, such as mobility and the cloud, introduces new points of vulnerability for hackers to exploit.
- Bring your own device (BYOD) policies allowing employees to use their personal mobile devices on company networks create vulnerabilities that can be difficult to control.
Security Best Practices
How can IT networks fend off security attacks? Following are several ideas:
- The most important preventative step a company can take is to ensure its networks are up to date and current with all security patches.
- Firewalls should be diligently maintained to prevent incursions.
- Employees should be educated about security measures they can take to protect corporate networks and to be mindful of unintentional actions that could create vulnerabilities.
- Set up virtual networks for remote workers in order to maintain as much control as possible over movement of data.
- Disconnect unused services, which are likely not receiving security updates and are therefore a vulnerable point of entry for attackers.
- Expect that a breach eventually will occur and have a plan to identify and isolate the attack while mitigating and eventually recovering from any negative consequences.
- Establish geographically separate backup systems so that any data lost in a breach can be recovered.
Play Good Defense
As the saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. Perhaps the biggest threat to IT networks today is a company’s own unwillingness to believe it is vulnerable to a breach. Being proactive about keeping threats out is the single most important thing a company can do to protect itself from cyber threats.
Contact us to learn more about protecting your IT networks from security vulnerabilities.