Are Your Company's Secrets Secure?
With the ‘bring your own device’ culture growing, businesses are at major risk of data breach unless they take tech security seriously.
Mobile technology has helped businesses become more flexible, efficient and well connected than ever before. But with more devices accessing their information, companies are putting their intellectual property and competitive edge, at risk.
According to David Markus, founder and managing director of IT services firm Combo, the importance of digital security is often underestimated: “In small business, there’s a real lack of understanding and appreciation of what’s at risk... most attacks are still not even perceived. Data’s going missing, and they’re not even noticing it.”
Steve Wilson, principal analyst at Constellation Research, agrees: “There is a market for personal data that flows behind users’ backs. You need a great deal of data sophistication to know this. In fact, IT professionals cannot keep track of it all.”
Beware the BYOD culture
The bring your own device (BYOD) culture, which encourages employees to provide their own tablets, phones or laptops, can increase the risk of information theft.
As more devices access confidential information, the security of the data is compromised at multiple points, whether through apps or insecure WiFi networks. For example, personal data (such as contacts) is routinely uploaded by apps without users’ permission, says Wilson.
“Location traces are available that show where (and when) your phone has been in great detail. When you use cloud computing, the service provider has copies of all your files.”
Those files might be personal contacts, company documents or financial details, and Wilson notes the risks of using commercial email accounts that are associated with social media accounts.
“If you use Facebook ‘Find Friends’, your whole contact list gets uploaded and then searched by Facebook.”
While Facebook doesn’t have access to the contents of that user’s emails, there can still be negative consequences, especially for business owners with sensitive contacts.
“One result is that patients of the same therapist can get ‘Friend Suggestions’ from Facebook,” explains Wilson, “if that therapist is say a mental health counsellor, then the status of their patients gets exposed.
“It’s almost a mission of social media companies to join everything up. And if you use the same mobile for work calls and social networking, then your worlds can collide.”
Always put security first
While many small businesses have some form of digital security – perhaps anti-virus software – most are unaware of how best to utilise it, and its limits in a mobile context, says Markus.
“Even if they have a firewall, anti-virus software and security management on their systems, it isn’t refreshed and managed,” he observes. “They bought a firewall at some stage because someone told them they needed one, but they haven’t upgraded it.”
One way to protect against cyber criminals targeting unwary businesses is to improve digital security through cloud computing, Markus says, and while he admits that flies in the face of a lot of people’s thinking, it’s the job of big cloud providers to protect data, and they have the resources to do so.
Businesses should also ensure the cloud providers themselves have promised not to exploit their data, advises Wilson.
“When you pay for a commercial private cloud service, generally speaking the service provider promises to leave your data alone.” However, free services often reserve the right to access users’ data.
The key to good digital security, says Markus, is to seek plenty of advice by speaking to an expert or using the services of a well-resourced company: “The first step is moving away from getting PC support from the kid next door.”
Ultimately, strong and up-to-date security is a priority for any company that wants to secure its information.
“Set and forget management of security isn’t okay,” says Markus, “these things need to be managed today to stay ahead of the game.”
Orignal article written by Jesse Richardson, BackBerry.