Cyber security is a central issue for most businesses, and rightfully so. News of large scale data breaches is becoming ever more frequent, giving businesses the feeling of being under constant threat.
As the number of cyber attacks continue to rise, so do the cost of major data breaches. This begs the question, what steps should you take to protect your organization from cyber security threats?
Where do Cyber Security Threats Come From?
The words associated with cyber security threats (data breaches, hacks, viruses, etc.) bring to mind forceful external attacks that beat down businesses’ online defences. The truth of the matter is different however. While attacks on systems seem to be the largest threat, in fact 4 out of 5 causes for data breaches stem from human error.
Simple mistakes made by accident due to a lack of clear communication procedures and poor communication structures are much more likely to be a threat than the stereotypical “hacker.” All of this means that in order to protect your business, you should begin by securing its internal communication.
Here are three key tips to keep your internal communication secure and protect yourself from potentially expensive cyber security threats.
1.Pay Attention to How you Send and Receive Files
The current prevalence of cloud file sharing services has certainly led to easier collaboration within and among businesses, but it can also leave you open to a potential data breach. While having quick access to a wide range of information and data can encourage collaboration, it also increases the likelihood of data getting into the wrong hands. Put simply, the more people have access to files and folders, the more likely data can be leaked.
One way to avoid this is to encourage your team to use direct P2P file transfers for sensitive data. This isn’t to say that file sharing platforms shouldn’t have a place in your workplace, but it’s important that your employees are well aware of the benefits and risks of File Sharing vs. P2P File Transfer in order to make an informed decision on a case by case basis.
The best strategy in this regard is to create a clear process for determining what type of files should be shared openly and what should be sent directly through an encrypted channel. This determination should be made based on the nature of the information and the potential cost benefit of more people having access to this. Once your employees are trained to follow this process you’ll greatly reduce the likelihood of an accidental data leak.
2.Keep Your Team Communication Internal
There are plenty of open free communication apps that businesses can use for their team communication. Often times businesses will use these programs for their costs savings and because employees are already used to using them in their personal lives. While these programs will certainly save you money, they can also put you at risk of data accidentally getting into the wrong hands.
If your employees are using a free IM program for internal team communication as well as their personal communication, it’s easy for them to make a mistake when sending a file or a sensitive message. With just a few clicks of the mouse their communication could go to an unintended contact, and with many fake profiles in the larger IM programs networks, the consequences could be severe.
The best way to protect against this is to rely on a closed internal communication network for your team communication. Business Instant Messengers, for example, give you all of the features that other IM programs offer, all on a closed network that doesn’t allow users to communicate with anyone not previously approved by the administrator. This removes the possibility of data accidentally getting into the wrong hands.
3.Set up Clear Procedures for Email
Email communication is one of the most frequent channels of both unintentional data leaks, and malevolent attacks. Clicking on the wrong link, typing the wrong recipient, or downloading a dangerous attachment are just a few of the main ways that email communication can leave you prone to cyber security threats. This isn’t to say that you and your employees should completely avoid communicating by email, but when you do so you should certainly take steps to protect yourselves:
- Use data encryption for your email. Some email clients provide this automatically, and with some you have to select this option.
- Always double (and triple!) check your intended recipient.
- Use the delayed sending feature to give yourself time to react if you notice that you’ve sent your message to the wrong recipient.
- Make sure your antivirus is up to date and running, and avoid opening junk mail.
- Pay particularly close attention to any attachments to make sure they are from a trusted sender.
Protecting your business from cyber security threats is of the utmost importance, and it all begins with how your team communicates and collaborates internally and with the outside world. By helping your team to set up and follow clear communication procedures regarding how they communicate and share data, you’ll be well positioned to address one of the most serious cause of data breaches; human error.