Information Technology (IT) has made our personal and professional lives easier. But, the growing use of IT has also left users vulnerable to cyberattacks involving data theft and abuse of personal information. Not just individuals, but big corporations and small businesses are also facing impending cyber threats across the globe.
According to the SiteLock 2019 Website Security Report, cyberattacks increased by nearly 59% in 2018. The number of attacks reached a peak of 80 attacks per day in December 2018. More than 330 bots carried out an average of 62 daily attacks in 2018, affecting almost 17.6 million websites globally at any given time.
Cyberattacks tend to happen because most businesses, especially the small ones, keep their IT security on the backbench. IT security is a deciding factor that can make or break your businesses.
If your business encounters a security breach, people are less likely to continue using your services. You may also have to pay fines, face costly litigations, and offer credit to the customers affected by the breach. Considering the impact of security breaches on business, you should treat IT security as a priority rather than an afterthought.
Here are a few common security risks and how you can avoid them.
1.Limited or Poor Encryption Practices
One of the primary risks associated with a potential data breach is limited encryption or a complete lack of it. The four-year breach of Marriott’s Starwood guest reservation system that occurred since 2014 is the latest example of poor encryption. Hackers reportedly had access to data for 500 million accounts stored in the guest reservation database from 2014 until early September 2019.
This kind of a data breach will not only result in the theft of valuable consumer and business information but also put you in the spotlight for your shocking oversight. You must, therefore, pro-actively pay attention to encryption.
Make sure to include an encryption program in your IT security management. Bring all your key data-holders together to identify the risk level of your databases and the required encryption. You can also use VPN, allowing your remote employees to access and share information via encrypted channels.
Provide data access to only authorized personnel. Make use of multiple levels of permissions, passwords, and two-factor authentication. Keep your keys and certificates safe.
2.Ignoring Patch Management
A patch is a piece code that can help improve your software applications. Form operating systems to servers, almost every aspect of your business IT infrastructure will rely on patch updates for smooth functioning and increased security from cyber threats.
However, as one of the most mundane IT management tasks, patch updates often fall behind. However, it may result in dire consequences, particularly if you fail to update patches that are critical to core business systems.
Create and implement a broad discovery system to identify which areas of your network need patches. It is better to have a standard and an emergency patching process in place. If you are using different applications, keep track of each vendor’s patch release schedule to ensure timely updates.
Some patches, when applied, may interfere with other applications. So, you need to set up a testing environment where you can test the patch to identify and fix its side effects should they arise. Finally, you should make sure to keep track of your patch management process and check the results to make sure everything is running smoothly.
3.Not Paying Attention to Custom Code Security
The third critical factor is custom code security. You should regularly check the user-developed custom code for vulnerabilities. The four most common type of vulnerabilities you are likely to face are Injection, XML External Entities, Cross-site Scripting (XSS), and Insecure Deserialization.
Proper input validation can be the first line of defense against most custom code vulnerabilities, including these four. Make sure to validate any data entering your application before it gets executed.
Keeping the software design simple should also help improve code security. Usually, a complicated software design tends to add too many loopholes in implementation, configuration, and use. On the other hand, you can clearly understand and review all security aspects of a simple design. The design should also facilitate the enforcement of your custom code security policies.
Automation also makes it easier to adopt security best practices. It reduces the chances of human error, especially by protecting critical business processes from user-code vulnerabilities. You should also sanitize the data sent over to other systems. Attackers can easily exploit an unused functionality in the shared data by SQL injection or any other means.
Finally, adopting a secure coding standard for your business IT ecosystem should help you identify and addressed code vulnerabilities in time. With coding security best practices in place, you can create secure code in most programming languages.
Considering the harsh consequences, getting an IT security expert to minimize these risks is always a good idea. Cloud computing and other connected technologies have made it easier and affordable to hire an IT expert. In fact, a Zurich-based company can now hire an IT Security Consultant from Genève, if it suits their needs and budget.
The bottom line is that safeguarding your business data is essential for the survival and success of your business. Although it is difficult to have a security-perfect enterprise IT environment, you can certainly minimize the core security risks by following the above three best practices. Make sure to treat your IT security just like you would any other critical business functionality. We would love to continue this conversation further. Tell us about your IT security goals and the steps you would take to accomplish them in the comments section.