As digital solutions and devices have grown more diverse and applications have increased in all professional fields, security threats have also multiplied. Opportunities for hacking, malware, and old-fashioned security leaks have spread.
Now, even the smallest business must be wary of potential invasion through its computer devices. Keeping up with the latest trends in data security — and the lack of it — is more necessary than ever. Here are some of the latest problems to be aware of, and what you can do about them for your growing company.
Mobile devices depend entirely on WiFi networks and data plans to operate. Unfortunately, these wireless options are also notoriously vulnerable to attack, so the more data that gets sent through the air, the more opportunities there are for mobile cyber crimes.
When it comes to malware, for example, companies have a hard enough time creating their own apps and mobile optimized website. Developing proper mobile security is often a secondary concern that’s not given nearly enough attention.
Once upon a time, mobile operating systems like Android were popular for the absence of malware associated with them, but these days cyber criminals are attacking all brands equally.
The array of mobile devices, including phones, tablets, hybrids, wearables, and more also presents certain difficulties. Maintaining locks and codes across all these devices can prove challenging for a busy office.
Mobile devices are also a lot easier to lose than a large desktop computer or laptop, which presents another set of problems. Some of the new technology involved in mobile devices also creates security threats, such as NFC (near field communication) that’s used for short-range data transfer.
Cyber criminals are growing increasingly skilled at finding weak spots in the mobile network, which requires stronger vigilance in this area.
Ransomware is an increasingly popular type of malware attack designed to generate easy money for cyber criminals. Essentially, it locks a computer down with a bunch of unnecessary encryption, and seals its data.
The block comes with a threat and a “ransom,” or demand for money. Usually it’s not an unreasonable amount — perhaps no more than a few hundred dollars — and many businesses are tempted just to pay the ransom and be rid of the annoyance.
However, such attacks can grow bolder over time. It’s better to update security on a constant basis rather than fall victim over and over.
Old operating systems
These are both a leading security threat and one of the easiest solutions to effect. Major companies eventually ignore old operating systems. Microsoft has only enough resources to support its current operating systems and one or two older versions.
The result is that older systems, such as Windows XP, are no longer supported, which means users receive no more updates and no more security upgrades. Thus, older OS options become more and more open to attack.
This is a problem, of course, because businesses find it easier to select an operating system and stick with it. Switching to a new system can be expensive, time-consuming, and a challenge with regard to employee training.
Also, partners and clients may prefer that businesses use older software that they in turn are comfortable with. Whenever possible, operating system updates should be used to keep security current, even if it creates some growing pains.
BYOD stands for “bring your own device,” the trend that encourages employees to bring their own electronic tools to work and use them for business purposes. This can encourage productivity and save companies a lot of money that would otherwise be spent on mobile management.
However, it also invites security breaches. Employees are likely to be lazier about protecting and securing their own tablets and phones. They may download malware apps that will then have access to sensitive company data.
Physically, personal devices may also be more likely to get misplaced or left behind at a location where they can be stolen. This is one reason that even simple passcodes help to protect devices these days.
BYOD tactics require significant planning by the companies that turn to them. Passcode and app requirements are common security features. There are also many remote access and virtualization services that can help secure phones, but these require time and investment to be effective.
Can you trust all your vendors? Increasingly, vast data tables used by vendors are being attacked, as companies such as Target can attest. These data tables often hold large amounts of customer information that can be used for many different nefarious purposes, especially if criminals gain access to financial info like credit card numbers.
So how much can you trust vendors? Are they guarding the data the passes through them at all levels? Do they consistently update the security they have?
Picking vendors is becoming a more sensitive process than ever before, and can benefit from a hefty amount of investigation. Rely on customer service, reviews, and security details. Be wary of any company that does not offer the details behind its security activities.
Personal attacks at the workplace
Personalized attacks are growing more subtle. Spam emails and phishing attempts have been replaced by more complex strategies that begin by drawing in personal information from social media accounts and using that to make emails that seem more real.
Employees who open these advanced phishing emails and attachments at work may put their employer’s computers in danger of attack.
This might be a more obvious point, but virtual coinage, in spite of its encryption processes, remains highly susceptible to cyber attack and theft. Bitcoin, the most popular example, has been attacked multiple times already in its short lifespan, and large amounts of money were stolen.
You’d be wise to hold off from using or accepting virtual currencies for the time being.