Is Your Organization’s IT Security at Risk?

According to the 2013 Norton Report which covered over 13,000 respondents from 24 countries, almost half the respondents used their personal computing devices for work-related activities. Further, close to 50% of the respondents admitted that they were using their computers and smartphones without implementing safety measures like use of strong passwords and installation of security softwares. This has made them attractive targets/sitting ducks for attackers.

The Norton Report indicated that the average direct cost of cybercrime works out to around $300 per victim. Considering indirect costs like liability claims and other intangible negative consequences, a careless employee who ignores basic cyber safety rules and precautions can put the organisation’s solvency and market credibility at risk. Make sure you don’t commit these online safety mistakes at your workplace.

1. Reusing Passwords

A strong password is the most effective way to safeguard your office IT assets including computers, servers, and networks from unauthorized access. The policy requiring employees to change their passwords at regular intervals is rendered futile by employees who simply use to reuse their old passwords.

Or, they have a set of passwords stored in the office computer for easy access. Such an approach mitigates the effectiveness of using passwords to protect your IT assets. Don’t reuse passwords, avoid having a list of stock passwords to be used one after the other, and avoid opting for passwords that can be easily guessed.

2. Sharing Passwords

The password helps the organization create and implement hierarchy of access to IT assets amongst employees. It also helps track usage of networks, assets, and devices amongst different users. Sharing passwords makes it impossible for the firm to know which employee is using which asset within the network. Further, sharing increases the risk of private and confidential information leaking out to unauthorized persons.

Entering your passwords on your own is unlikely to require more than 10-15 seconds of extra effort as compared to sharing the password. Keep your passwords private and make sure you change it in the event you are compelled to share it with a colleague. 

3. Leaving IT Assets Unattended

Employees often err in presuming that only a major mistake or error will result in cyber safety issues. Even something as ordinary as leaving the desk without logging out of your workstation or enterprise-level cloud can pose a security risk. This small mistake can allow a visitor gain access to the organization’s network. From installation of remote tracking software to unauthorized copying of data — leaving IT assets unlocked and unattended can render all other workplace safety measures ineffective.

4. Connecting Personal Devices to the Organization’s Network

Apart from wasting precious resources of the firm for private use, such a mistake can allow hackers to gain access to the secure network through your unprotected or poorly-secured private device. Firms with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies require employees to follow stringent norms.

Consider installing online security solutions offered by reputed brands like McAfee, Norton, Quick Heal, or Kaspersky. Anti-virus and anti-malware programs offer real-time protection from Trojans, viruses, and malwares. The firewall will ensure your device does not serve as conduit for hackers seeking access to your office network. Ignoring the norms or connecting personal devices when the firm does not have a BYOD policy can have negative effect on workplace security.

5. Copying Work Data to Personal Devices

This is a significant risk that can magnify the consequences of end-user carelessness. A University of Alabama study revealed that 80% of companies view employee carelessness as the biggest IT security risk. Using unencrypted flash drives to copy work data on personal devices or storing information on laptops can prove to be a major security risk. Loss of device or unauthorized access is enough for the firm’s private data to be leaked online.  

Devastating workplace safety breaches occur primarily due to numerous seemingly-minor mistakes, errors, and policy violations amongst employees. No precaution should be considered insignificant when online safety is at risk. Even something as minor as placing a sticky note on unused webcams can prove beneficial in the long run. 

Reliable workplace IT security depends on awareness and respect for safety rules amongst employees, rigid obedience of rules, and a proactive approach towards protecting the firm’s IT infrastructure from the latest threats.

 

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