New year, new staff, new security risks
- — Jan. 18, 2013, 5:47 p.m.
As the British Government moves cyber security up the agenda of all of its departments in 2013, we can expect businesses to follow suit and consider their own networks.
January is the prime month to be security savvy – a New Year resolution if you like. Traditionally a time when people start new jobs or begin the hunt for one, it is also the time when corporate data can be particularly at risk. Until a new employee has been taken through the company’s security policies, they are the weak link in the chain.
However it isn't just new staff that need reminding of the security policies of their business. We are constantly hearing of new ruses and attacks being deployed, so it’s essential for all employees to be kept updated so that they don’t fall victim and inadvertently cause a breach. A thirty-minute meeting now could save a business thousands of pounds, and its reputation, further down the line.
Every aspect of security should be covered, from the basics, such as telling people not to click on links from unknown sources, to asking the receptionist to question if a bowl of branded USBs appears of the front desk, apparently for people to help themselves. (This is a ploy that has been used in the past to gain access to corporate networks).
Policies supporting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) should also receive particular attention. Allowing employees to use their own devices brings both benefits and potential problems in equal measure. Each device extends the digital boundary of the organisation, so must meet the same security requirements of the rest of the company-owned equipment. Consideration should also go to the policy relating to what happens to the information on the device when an employee leaves the company. After all, they may have a considerable amount of company data stored there.
Ultimately, cyber security is there to protect the organisation, not hinder it. Every employee needs to take responsibility for their online actions – it's no longer the sole responsibility of the IT department. The onus for arming staff with the means and knowledge to avoid security attacks and data breaches falls on the business' leaders, as does enforcement of the security policy.
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Incident handling is a vast topic, but here are a few tips for you to consider in your incident response. I hope you never have to use them, but the odds are at some point you will and I hope being ready saves you pain (or your job!).
- Have an incident response plan.
- Pre-define your incident response team
- Define your approach: watch and learn or contain and recover.
- Pre-distribute call cards.
- Forensic and incident response data capture.
- Get your users on-side.
- Know how to report crimes and engage law enforcement.
- Practice makes perfect.
I’m dating myself, but I remember when holiday shopping involved pouring through ads in the Sunday paper, placing actual phone calls from tethered land lines to research product stock and availability, and actually driving places to pick things up. Now, holiday shoppers can do all of that from a smartphone or tablet in a few seconds, but there are some security pitfalls to be aware of.