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New year, new staff, new security risks

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.

Guy Bunker


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