Christopher Grey is the co-founder and COO of Manhattan Beach, California-based CapLinked, the maker of a virtual data room platform.
For the average company, information security may not feel like a top priority. However, data breaches that concern private information are unfortunately very common. These breaches have serious consequences for the companies.
In the modern era, work-from-home (WFH) practices have further expanded the need for network access. Together with concerns about breaches, information security has never been more important.
In this guide, we’ll address some of the reasons why information security is so important and offer a few tips for building a successful information security strategy for your company:
Work from Home Has Shifted the Security Landscape
Before work-from-home arrangements became common, companies had a higher degree of control over access to their data and networks. They did not necessarily have to deal with the security concerns of off-site access to their internal networks.
Internal access makes it much easier to identify authorized connections. But with the shift to work-from-home models that came with lockdowns during the pandemic, companies needed to make a quick shift to offer outside access to their business networks.
For many companies, this meant that sensitive data was now accessible through the internet. While access often requires using employee credentials, these can be spoofed or compromised.
The Elements of Information Security
To protect information, whether it’s customer data, private employee data, or protected trade data, companies need to be aware about some key elements of security.
The first is encryption, which prevents data transfers from being intercepted by third parties. This is a potential risk introduced by many work-from-home arrangements.
Endpoint security is another major factor to consider. Firewalls and other tools are designed to prevent unauthorized access and malicious connections. When used appropriately, firewalls can allow access for work-from-home employees, while denying it to outside parties.
Lastly, it’s critical to maintain backups of sensitive information, documents, and data. Regularly backing up important data is one of the most overlooked aspects of information security, especially at small and middle market companies. Information sources should be backed up weekly to prepare for attacks or theft that could result in loss of documents.
The Risks of Ignoring Information Security Strategy
Without a good information security strategy, your company risks data breaches. These breaches can carry a number of serious consequences.
For example, if your company mishandles customer information, you might face legal action. When personal information is compromised, your company could lose the trust of customers for years to come.
Without a solid information security strategy in place, you also risk losing proprietary information to competitors. This could cost you your competitive edge.
See more: Top 10 Cybersecurity Threats
Specific Dangers to Certain Industries
Some industries can face more serious information security consequences than others. Medical industries fall under the authority of HIPAA, an act designed to guarantee patient privacy. A breach of patient information under this act can carry significant fines.
The same is true for any company that handles information for government agencies. These companies have to operate under the rules of the Federal Information Security Management Act. Failure to fully protect this sensitive data can have major consequences for your business.
See more: Top 10 Ways to Prevent Cyber Attacks
Implementing Effective Information Security for Your Company
The need for information security strategies is incredibly clear. But how can these strategies be implemented for your business?
Here are a few methods that can work for just about any business:
Document Control and Management
Distributing files and making them available for users is a complex security task. Going with a file-hosting service may not be the best choice. Using these tools can leave your organization open to significant information security risks.
Creating a secure environment for document sharing and editing is crucial. That should include having mechanisms in place like permission control, watermarking, and digital rights management. You should have the ability to safely upload files to a secure location and view them directly on your browser. Hosting documents on a secure server also allows for version control, in order to track any changes made to a file. These practices should be implemented not just for word docs, but all sensitive files, including photos, PDFs, and videos.
Multi-Factor Authentication for Endpoint Security
Another way to protect your business networks is to use multi-factor authentication (MFA). This adds another layer of protection when authorized users attempt to access the network.
To do this, you may choose to rely on a dedicated app on a trusted device or to verify user permissions through email or SMS messages. In either case, only having the right device or the login credentials shouldn’t be enough to gain access to your networks.
Implementing customized user permissions across your organization will prevent the wrong users from accessing sensitive information, while minimizing risks of data breaches by limiting how many users access sensitive content. All files and documents in an organization should be private by default, with only relevant users being granted access to view or edit. Group permissions can be created to also limit access to documents by certain teams or departments. Access should be immediately revoked when individuals change roles or leave an organization.
Don’t Let Information Security Fall By the Wayside
There’s no question about it — your business can’t afford to go without an effective information security strategy.
By creating the right protocols, you can protect your sensitive data, your customers, and your reputation.
See more: Top Cloud Security Companies & Solutions