The recent security breach at Sony underscored not only the need for better security in protecting sensitive internal documents and information, but also the appalling lack of care being taken on an individual level to protect passwords and take other steps to protect (or remove) sensitive conversations and data. Despite a litany of other widespread and serious data breaches in recent years, many businesses still don’t seem to be taking cybersecurity as a serious issue that not only could affect them, but very well may.
As a business owner or manager, you’ve heard time and again how important it is to delegate in order to streamline processes and be more productive – and more profitable. But delegating does not mean turning a blind eye; and when it comes to cybersecurity issues, unless you have a dedicated chief information security officer, you need to take an active role in ensuring your data is adequately protected.
The key to effective management begins with understanding the types of threats that exist and how they’re evolving, as well as identifying new threats as soon as they begin to emerge. At the same time, management needs to develop actionable steps to counteract potential breaches, looking for weaknesses at every level, from individual employee passwords and use of personal devices like smartphones, to the way data is encrypted and stored, both in the cloud and on any on-site or remote servers.
Strong, company-wide policies backed up by employee education programs and Q&A sessions are the cornerstones of an effective cybersecurity policy; managers must clearly communicate to employees – at every level – the vital roles they play in protecting the company from cyber threats so they see BYOD and other policies as being protective rather than punitive.
Involving employees in cybersecurity discussions also helps ensure their cooperation and compliance.
One more lesson from the Sony breach: Unlike other cybersecurity attacks that have targeted customer identification and banking information, the Sony attackers also focused on employee emails, revealing information that proved both embarrassing and potentially costly. Many businesses fail to consider emails and personal files when considering cybersecurity measures, leaving themselves wide open to similar breaches.
In a nutshell, companies that assess and manage cybersecurity issues as vigilantly as they do financial, operational and reputation-related risks have the greatest chance of thwarting attacks and breaches. Start today to plan how to avoid breaches as well as how to respond if a breach does occur.