Data security should always be a top priority for any business, but as data becomes more valuable, the tactics used by criminal hackers to steal this sensitive information are evolving all the time and, as a result, protecting digital assets is more important than ever.
Indeed, in recent years, there has been a much-increased focus on improving data security, with many firms taking specific steps in order to ensure they are compliant with new rules such as GDPR, in addition to protecting themselves from new threats. As a result of this, businesses may well believe their efforts have made their data as secure as it could possibly be. But is this really the case?
In fact, many organizations are still likely to have weak points in their defenses that could be exploited by skilled hackers, or leave them exposed to data breaches as the result of careless workers. Here are five signs you need to be aware of.
Are your backups part of the problem?
Effective backup services are an essential part of any business, especially for companies where any sort of outage could leave them unable to function effectively. But could the data you're sending to these backup servers - whether on-site or hosted by a third party - actually be a security hole ?
One common danger is that backup drives are often overlooked when it comes to patching and upgrading technology. These are often treated as a lower priority when it comes to IT investments, which means they may be left running outdated and insecure technology. In some cases, if vendors are no longer supporting these servers, they may be exposed to vulnerabilities that will not be patched.
No such thing as 'too small to hack'
Many smaller firms may believe they are not at risk of hacking attacks as they are too small or unimportant to be worth the effort - but this can be a costly mistake. In fact, smaller firms can actually be more tempting targets for criminals than their larger peers, as the defenses they have in place will often be less robust.
They might be looking for valuable personal data that can be used elsewhere - stealing a list of passwords from an unsecure provider and retrying them on more sensitive accounts can be a very lucrative activity. Hackers could also use your systems as a backdoor into larger partners, or may just be looking to cause indiscriminate chaos. But whatever their reasons, the end result may be the same.
The BYOD backdoor
Many businesses now empower their employees to use their own gadgets for work purposes. Bring your own device (BYOD) is often a great way to keep staff engaged and boost efficiency while keeping costs down, but just because you don't own the devices, this doesn't mean you aren't still responsible for them.
Many of the apps your employees use when on their personal devices connect to services that are outside your control - and you may have no idea how much of your data ends up there. At the same time, how sure can you be that your employees aren't exposing your data through the use of unapproved and potentially malware-riddled apps?
Be aware of the wireless weakness
For many businesses, the future of their company is wireless. Some may not even run Ethernet cables to their workstations any more as faster Wi-Fi and 5G cellular technology are expected to be the primary method of connectivity.
But how many of these firms have fully evaluated what impact this might have on their security? In many cases, buildings that have the highest levels of physical security may be undone due to unsecured Wi-Fi connections accessible from the street. As the likes of 5G will greatly increase the amount of data able to be shared wirelessly, this could present new opportunities for hackers to gain access.
The potential risks of outsourcing
Outsourcing IT activities such as cloud computing services to third parties is an everyday way of working for many businesses, and many more may assume that, as part of their contracts, they can leave responsibility for security to their providers.
This is incorrect, as regulators will still consider you, as the owner of the data, as ultimately responsible. It also overlooks the wide range of different services outsourcers can provide - for example, using a third party to manage order deliveries is vastly different from running your email via Google, and will require different security considerations.