WHAT IS NIST? THE COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE NIST CYBERSECURITY FRAMEWORK
Explore this comprehensive guide on how the NIST Cybersecurity Framework can be applied to your organization.
What Cyber or Data Security Threat Should I Be Most Concerned About?
You don’t have to look far or wide to find an abundance of headlines highlighting the major cyber and data security threats ravaging businesses large and small. From phishing scams and ransomware attacks to information leakage and mismanagement, the dangers are numerous, varied and alarming. So, where should you be focusing your security efforts? What should you be most concerned about? Which hazards take top priority?
With so many vulnerabilities to worry about, managing your cyber and data security threats can become overwhelming. Even so, you can’t let this paralyze your efforts or keep you from doing what’s necessary to safeguard your company. The costs are simply too high. Therefore, you must make a plan to address your threats in order of greatest risk to your business. At the top of that list should be an entity that, in many organizations, is often overlooked or underestimated: your internal users.
Whether driven by malicious intent or just lack of education, your own employees are fostering the most concerning opportunities for data breaches and security violations. Unless you can lock down this area of your security effort, you’ll never be able to fortify your defenses and preserve sensitive, personal and business-critical information.
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Uncover the following internal threats to your company’s cyber and data security, and use this insight to strengthen your tactics and protect your organization.
Too many businesses are under the incorrect assumption that they need only be concerned with external threats, like competitors, hackers and other types of cyber criminals. In fact, your own organization may be surprised to learn that an ex-employee is much more likely to originate a data breach because they don't have to work very hard to obtain this information. They probably already have access to it as a part of their daily responsibilities.
Internal attacks from former employees and rogue users are much more prevalent than you may have imagined, and they pose a huge threat to your business’s cyber and data security. This is especially true when it comes to IT department staff, who typically have higher levels of access to accounts and information, and who are also equipped with a great deal of knowledge about how to cause the most damage.
That said, how do you effectively address this vulnerability? Your effort should begin by implementing a firm security policy, one that outlines very specifically how, when, why and by whom files can be accessed, managed and shared. It should also detail what happens when an employee is terminated or leaves the company, including password changes and account deactivations.
With a solid, sound security policy in place, it is paramount to ensure that you’re utilizing a secure file sharing solution. No user should be able to access a single kilobyte of data that they don't expressly require in order to do their job. Your solution should also provide features that allow for mandating periodic password changes, setting password criteria, locking up devices after a predetermined length of inactivity, encrypting data in transit and at rest, mitigating the risks of BYOD, and running secure, daily backups of your files and information.
Not all internal threats to your cyber and data security are the product of spiteful or malign intent. Your business could be harboring significant vulnerabilities just by failing to put defenses in place against careless, inattentive users. If your employees are not following secure file sharing procedures, they may unintentionally or even unknowingly open the door to intruders and leave your data vulnerable to compromise.As internal users carry out file sharing processes and implement solutions to perform their responsibilities, chances are many of them don’t completely understand all of the risks involved. Again, unless your business has a formal file sharing policy to protect your assets from this risk, you could be facing serious breaches of information. It is essential to ensure that every employee from the top down is held to a strict security standard, including policy enforcement and the execution of a file sharing solution that maintains secure protocol.
Ignorance is dangerous when it comes to the handling of your business network, files and data. At many organizations, highly insecure methods are still being used to transfer confidential files. Are your employees circumventing IT protocols and turning to unsanctioned methods, like instant messaging, collaboration and social media tools? Are they attaching private company documents and data to personal email? If the people uploading, downloading, sharing, and storing files don’t understand or aren’t reminded of the dangers facing your organization, they become your biggest risk.When your users are uneducated about the threat of insecure data-handling behavior, they are prime targets for detrimental breaches. Think about what could happen if an employee sent a large file full of highly sensitive, confidential information to a vendor, a client or another employee and that file was stolen in the transfer process. The costs and repercussions of information theft can profoundly impact your bottom line, your productivity and your reputation.The solution is thorough, ongoing education. You must ensure that every employee knows how to utilize the features of a secure file sharing solution instead of circumventing the software or resorting to insecure means of data management. Consider developing a training program that helps them comprehend and remain aware of the many vulnerabilities facing your business, as well as where those threats can emerge.
Of course, the threats posed by internal sources like rogue users, inattentive insiders and uneducated employees aren’t the ONLY cyber and data security issues you need to be concerned with -- but addressing these vulnerabilities is the best place to start. It’s essential to bolster your defenses from the inside out. Fortunately, many of the same protections outlined here for thwarting internal abuses serve a dual purpose, shielding your systems from external threats as well. Take these necessary steps to safeguard your data and avoid becoming the next big security breach headline.
For more insight on security in enterprise file sharing, take advantage of advice from experts across the industry. Download your free copy of our informative Q&A guide.
About Martin Horan
Founder of FTP Today and an expert in secure file transfer and Internet protocols. A software and IT geek since a young age, Martin has successfully led his companies through the digital age by spotting market niches and filling them with quality IT services.