If you look at the headlines on any given day, you are going to see at least one news story about a data breach, ransomware, or other computer-related crime. It’s hard for companies to get a handle on their security and risk management because the threat landscape is always changing. From zero-day exploits to state-sponsored attacks, it seems like the deck is stacked in favor of the attacker. Unfortunately, there are companies that make serious mistakes that make securing their IT and computer resources even more difficult. These mistakes are completely avoidable; the problem is that many IT professionals and businesses are completely unaware that they are making them.
1. Not understanding your data
One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is to not understand where its data live and who has access to them through what applications. Unless you know where your data are stored, even if they are stored off premises, you can’t put measures in place to protect them. The same can be said for not having an understanding of what applications are able to access these data and which users have rights to access these data.
2. Concentrating on the threat du jour
For a while, worms like Sasser were capturing the attention of security bloggers. Then came Web defacements and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Nowadays you hear about ransomware and business email compromises. The problem is that the attackers are already concentrating on the next exploit. If you are thinking only about what the current threat is, you are leaving yourself open to future attacks.
3. Ignoring shadow IT
Today’s workforce is much savvier technologically than ever before. As a result, IT departments often find applications and devices that are running on the network that they did not install or approve. Businesses often try to tackle this problem with policies, but that is not nearly enough. Workers often ignore policies, especially if they think that they hinder them from getting their work done. Your IT team needs to have the tools in place to monitor for shadow IT resources so that it can shut them down and work to prevent them down the road.
4. Not putting experienced people in place
Security and risk management is a complex arena of IT that really does require a specialization. If you don’t have people in place who have specialized training in security, you are putting your company at risk. But training and certifications aren’t the only foundation to a good security program. Your team needs to have experience in the field as well. Senior team members who have seen different attacks and understand what to look for are vital to stopping and preventing threat actors from taking over your resources.
5. Thinking it won’t happen to you
Attackers are after a number of different things. It may be money, or it may be intellectual property. Sometimes they are after information to help with negotiations, and other times, they just want accounts to launch other attacks from. Sometimes they are after your partners, and they see your network as a way in. Regardless, you should always be of the mindset that you have something that the bad guys want and should do whatever you can to protect your network.
Companies are constantly playing catch-up when it comes to security and risk management. With budgets shrinking and the threat landscape growing, organizations often find themselves turning toward partners that can help them address their security needs. If your company finds itself making the same mistakes over and over when it comes to security, it may be time to bring in outside help to allow your team to focus on projects that help your business grow and let the experts handle the security side.