Top 9 IT Security Threats and How to Address Them

Top 9 IT Security Threats and How to Address Them

Harden your business against security threats by following these best practices.

For more and more businesses around the country, data security has become the top IT priority. In the wake of data breach after data breach, it’s not hard to see why. Customers are tired of having their privacy compromised, and corporations cannot afford to keep paying the price in legal fees, remunerations, and lost customer trust.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to safeguard your business and avoid a damaging security breach. Here are the top 9 security threats for businesses, and how you can remedy them.

Security threat 1: Poor employee training.

Across the board, human error is one of the biggest threats to data security. When employees do not know what the secure practices are, or do not realize the importance of following them, it places your business at risk across multiple fronts.

Solution: Educate your team about security threats and best practices.

Regularly train your employees in proper security procedures, and make the case for why it is important. Make sure they know what to do if they notice something suspicious, or if they become aware of a security lapse. Enforce best practices and demonstrate that they are important to the company.

Security threat 2: Out of date software.

Software updates frequently involve security patches designed to fix a recently discovered vulnerability within a system. Unfortunately, many of us put off updating our software because we view it as inconvenient. This allows those vulnerabilities to persist long after they should have been hardened.

Solution: Keep your software up to date.

Scheduled, automated updates can take the burden off individuals for keeping up with new software releases and security patches.

Security threat 3: Poor password security.

Poor passwords are a never-ending problem for IT security. The number of users who leave their login information at a default setting (“admin”) and choose passwords that are easy to guess is staggeringly high. These human errors are some of the most common root causes for security breach and data theft.

Solution: Enable two-factor authentication.

While many users seem to be immune to calls to choose stronger passwords, two-factor authentication can add an extra layer of security independent from poor passwords.

Security threat 4: Data access on mobile and personal devices.

You may have significant security protocols in place for your office equipment, but what happens if that data is moved to a private computer? Corporate data hacks sometimes occur when an employee’s personal computer is compromised, and the leak spreads to the rest of the organization. Similarly, employees accessing corporate networks through insecure networks can also lead to a breach.

Solution: Have a mobile and personal device policy.

There are two ways to handle this problem: Either provide employees with laptops and mobile devices and prohibit file sharing off these devices, or require employees to harden any personal devices they may use to access your corporate network. Also be sure to instruct users on how to access the Internet securely when they’re working remotely.

Security threat 5: Files downloaded from insecure sources.

Another common user error happens when an employee downloads a virus-containing file from an email or an untrustworthy web source. Over the years, hackers have become increasingly more sophisticated in how they disguise these files, making the risk of download greater, even for trained employees.

Solution: Put up a firewall.

A firewall is designed to block downloads from anywhere but trusted sources. Firewalls can also restrict access to insecure websites, or limit access to only those on an approved list.

Security threat 6: Malware.

Even with a firewall in place, viruses and malware do sometimes get through. In fact, even when security software is installed, users sometimes turn it off or change its settings if they feel like it’s too intrusive.

Solution: Install anti-malware software.

Anti-malware software is designed to identify and remove anything malicious that gets on your computer. Make sure your anti-malware software isn’t just running, but is also up to date and that the security settings are at the right levels.

Security threat 7: No warning system in place.

Most of us think of malware breaches as overt attacks, where the system is taken over and users are locked out while a big warning error flashes on the screen. In fact, most malware works best when it goes undetected—like a deep cover secret agent.

Solution: Install breach monitoring software.

Even if you have software in place to combat known errors, you may need extra detection software to monitor your whole system and keep an eye out for suspicious activity. If a firewall is like locking your front door, and anti-malware software is like having a security guard on site, breach detection is like having security cameras installed. They’re all pieces of the puzzle to keep your network secure.

Security threat 8: Open access to controlled information.

Finally, a security threat that does happen can get out of hand if information isn’t securely controlled. If everyone in your organization has access to all the data, then it not only gives hackers multiple points of entry, but it means that hacking the device of a lower-level employee could grant them access to top-level members of your organization.

Solution: Restrict access to sensitive data.

Keep sensitive data apart from non-sensitive data. This prevents sensitive data from being shared accidentally, and it keeps data breaches compartmentalized. For instance, if you keep your sensitive financial data in secure location A and R&D documents in secure location B, then a breach to location A won’t compromise location B.

Security threat 9: Files damaged or destroyed as a result of system breach.

When a security breach does happen, many files can be lost, damaged, or compromised. This is not only a problem for the organization, but can be an added threat in case of a ransomware attack.

Solution: Regularly backup your files.

If you have a regular backup of your data, it significantly reduces the risks you face from a data breach. With back up data, you can get your organization back on its feet quickly.

Document your policies and practices and have an emergency response plan.

Following the above steps will harden your business against a security breach, but it is difficult to maintain absolute security. Even when taking every precaution, human error, an unknown vulnerability, or a particularly focused attacker can still compromise your system.

To protect your business and mitigate data loss, it is essential to keep a clear record of your security procedures and to have a response plan in place in case the worst happens. If you need assistance understanding your vulnerabilities and organizing a response plan, contact us today. We can perform a free security audit and create a plan to help you harden your business against security threats.