Like it or not we live in an age where IT is at the hub of most things we do. So much data is stored through IT systems that we need to be certain that confidential information does not get in the wrong hands. IT security is vitally important in seeing that data is kept under cyber lock and key, accessible only to those authorised to see it.
The impact of an IT security breach for a business can do untold damage not only financially but also to its reputation. This would be especially true if that IT security breach happened to involve confidential client information being stolen or hacked into. A damaged reputation can be disastrous for any business, whether it is young or old as it may never be restored.
Most larger organizations have a risk management team to deal with perceived IT security threats. It is an important process to staying ahead of hackers and keeping IT security up to date. Such analysis will include understanding the potential threats, putting in place procedures to prevent security breaches and ensuring there are contingency measures in place should something go wrong.
In fact some of the measures put in place by large scale organizations equally apply to smaller businesses and individuals. For example having properly installed and up to date anti-virus and firewall software on computers is an important step towards ensuring IT security is not breached. These need to be updated on a regular basis with service packs, patches and other fixes to ensure newly created threats do not bring down an entire network.
Company IT departments and management need to ensure that all staff are aware of the threats posed by viruses. Likewise home users can take measures to ensure they have adequate IT security and procedures in place. For example being wary of e-mail attachments from unknown sources is a key step, and such items should be deleted straight away as a precaution.
E-mail attachments are often a way of spreading viruses and many companies will have software in place to stop these types of e-mails reaching their intended destination. Likewise they will block staff from accessing certain websites with unsuitable or unsafe content. Anyone can and should subscribe to a hosted e-mail spam and virus scanning service to protect their computers.
Plug-ins such as USB devices should be avoided if received from an unknown or unreliable source, given there is no knowing what data might be stored on them. IT security teams should discourage staff from bringing in their own USB to use on office computers. Check wireless connections as they often have security settings switched off by default, and should be switched on and set to your business or individual needs.
Of course now many businesses provide their staff with other hand held items such as blackberries. IT security is no less an important issue with these items, so again these need to be properly managed and protected. A virtual private network (VPN) is a good way to ensure privacy on a mobile connection, and will stop sensitive information being hacked into.
As already indicated, a business or home users can have the best IT security systems and software in place, but in the end the care, diligence and integrity of individuals is the front line in the battle against hackers and viruses. So long as people understand the threats and implement common sense then most threats can be avoided. Regular training, procedure updates and good management will help staff to avoid common mistakes with IT security systems, with up to date software acting as the next line of defence.
Indit is a distributor in South Africa and Southern Africa of the world’s best computer security solutions for data networks of all sizes. Click here to see their range of IT security solutions, which include Cyberoam, Acronis, Sophos and BioMatch.