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Contributor Columns on Information Technology and Security

Cyber Security: Why it’s Just as Important at Work as at Home

 In this age of advanced technologies, there seems to be no limit to where we can go and what we can do on the Internet. Still, in navigating the worldwide web we make ourselves vulnerable to cyber crimes committed by those bent on using the Internet for illegal and lucrative purposes. 

In this age of advanced technologies, there seems to be no limit to where we can go and what we can do on the Internet. Still, in navigating the worldwide web we make ourselves vulnerable to cyber crimes committed by those bent on using the Internet for illegal and lucrative purposes. 

As a result we exercise care and caution in our personal Internet use, making sure that safeguards are in place on our home computers to protect sensitive information and reduce the risks of cyber attack. And then we go to our jobs and type away — using applications and visiting sites without thinking about cyber security at all.

But don’t workplace computers need cyber protection too?

While the answer to that question may seem obvious, the fact is that many workplace computers remain woefully unprotected from cyber attack.

Being that companies can sustain serious damage from the loss of sensitive information, cyber security should be top of mind for all business execs, regardless of the size of their companies. Here’s a look at why corporate cyber security is every bit as important as home computer security.

Uncontrolled admin-access is a major security threat

Home computer users don’t just grant any family member or friend access to their personal computers and files. And yet many business owners are jeopardizing sensitive data by failing to set up access limitations for their non-admin employees. To minimize the risk of data loss or corruption, businesses must exercise tight control and safeguards to prevent unauthorized personnel from gaining access to enterprise systems.

The threat of BYOD

As the proliferation of mobile devices continues, more and more workers are finding ways to use personal smartphones and tablets for business purposes. In recognition of this employee behavior, businesses are permitting the practice, known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) in their workplaces. Unfortunately, many companies are adopting BYOD without implementing sufficient safeguards, resulting in serious and unnecessary cyber security risks to sensitive information. 

By enacting clear policies and procedures to both limit and monitor the use of employee owned devices in the workplace, businesses can take advantage of the many benefits of BYOD while mitigating the risks. However, these safeguards must be applied in a fair and balanced manner to make sure that employees don’t feel that their privacy is being invaded or their personal data is being compromised.

Third party data supply chains can pose risks

In this age of Big Data, more and more companies are turning to third parties to store and process data in the cloud. Unfortunately, businesses that contract with third party vendors don’t always have a clear picture of the security measures that these outside sources are using to safeguard sensitive data, and that can have serious consequences should a breach occur. It is the responsibility of any business looking to contract with a third party to conduct thorough technical, procedural, and legal reviews to make sure that sensitive data will be properly protected.

The threat of malicious insiders

Home users protect their computers with strong passwords primarily to secure personal information from being stolen by nefarious types lurking inside the Internet, not physically within their homes. And yet data theft by trusted friends and family members has been known to occur. But in the business world it’s a whole different story. In fact, industry experts estimate that nearly half of all corporate data breaches occur at the hands of trusted employees. 

The old saying among cattle ranchers — “Trust your neighbors but brand your cattle” — is sage advice for companies to follow with respect to trusting employees with sensitive data. While no business leader wants to believe that attacks by malicious employees could occur within their company, internal security measures and protocols must be implemented to take that very real scenario into account.

Outdated security software is dangerous         

When it comes to cyber security, home computer users are strongly encouraged to keep their security software up-to-date by downloading the latest versions. The same rule holds true for corporate security. Once strong foundational security technologies, policies and procedures have been implemented, they must be constantly reviewed, evaluated and updated when necessary in order to minimize the risks of a cyber attack.    

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