Today’s businesses operate in a fast-paced, constantly changing environment. If your company isn’t keeping pace, you risk falling behind—and losing customers in the process. To stay competitive, you need to ensure that your operations run as smoothly as possible. But with so many new security risks emerging every day, staying on top of your game can be challenging.
Business owners and entrepreneurs spend an inordinate amount of time and energy worrying about what could go wrong and how to prevent it, but almost nothing about what to do when one of their company’s employees makes a security mistake. That’s why it’s essential to know the security risks your company faces, and which ones your company is protected against.
Here’s an overview of the most common types of security risks that every business should be aware of.
Impermissibly trusted employees
This is perhaps the most common risk that businesses face. Humans are fallible, and while it’s important to invest time and resources into training your employees, you can never be sure that all of your employees know, or will continue to know, how to properly handle sensitive data.
It’s not unusual for employees to make mistakes, and while you can’t always predict when or where they’ll happen, it’s important to try.
One of the best ways to protect against this type of risk is to have a data security policy in place that your employees are aware of and that you make sure they are following. Make sure that your employees understand how to handle sensitive data and how to report any concerns that they may have with the data security program in place.
In addition, you may want to conduct an employee survey to see how aware your employees are of data security best practices. An effective data security program can go a long way toward preventing data breaches, and it can also help your company avoid costly lawsuits.
Physical security refers to the safeguards that are in place to protect your company’s physical assets, like its facilities, inventory, and computers. These safeguards can take the form of locks, alarms, fences, and guards, and they can help reduce the risk posed by outsiders who might be trying to gain access to your company’s assets.
Physical security also refers to the way in which your business’s physical assets, such as computers, servers, mobile devices, and storage, are protected. If a hacker were to break into your office, they wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time looking for security vulnerabilities in your building because it would be well-defended.
They would, however, look for ways to break in where your defenses are lax, especially when there are no guards around. Hence, you need to employ professional guarding services to help secure the building and prevent any form of unauthorized access during or after work hours. These guards are tasked with ensuring that all entrances and windows are secure at all times, as well as using and observing alarms and cameras where appropriate.
Insecure protocols are vulnerabilities that exist in the coding or design of a system that can be exploited by malicious hackers. Because these vulnerabilities are inherent in the system, there is usually no way to secure them against a well-planned attack. Improperly configured routers and firewalls are common examples of insecure protocols.
Many business owners and managers assume that all their systems are firewalled and that no one could possibly breach their network security. However, that’s almost never the case. An outsider could easily probe a private network and spot the open ports and vulnerable services that indicate a lack of proper protection.
It’s not a good idea to keep all your business’s sensitive data on an open network, so when choosing which data to store on-premises, store only as much as you need to. Also, ensure that all sensitive data is properly encrypted and that you’re using strong passwords on every system.
Fraudulent payments are often the result of human error, such as when an employee makes a mistake while entering transaction information or if they forget a decimal point. While it’s easy to overreact and assume that fraud always results from malicious intent, the vast majority of fraudulent payments are the result of accidents.
The best way to prevent fraudulent payments is to make sure that your business processes are as automated as possible. The less work your employees have to do with processing payments, the less likely it is that one of them will make a mistake. You should also have policies in place that require employees to report any signs of fraudulent activity and have procedures in place to closely examine suspicious transactions.
Poorly secured data
Hackers often target companies that have poorly secured data. This type of security risk is often the result of an insecure computer system. A poorly secured data file can be a sensitive document, an email, or a spreadsheet that contains personally identifiable information (PII).
Here are some of the ways in which you could be exposed to data breaches:
- Hackers are targeting your unpatched software.
- Employees share passwords or commit identity theft.
- Unauthorized access to unsecured data storage.
- Weak or faulty encryption.
- Incorrectly formatted data.
To protect against poorly secured data, you need to follow a few rules:
- Patch all systems as soon as a new vulnerability is discovered.
- Use strong passwords that are unique to each system.
- Keep all systems updated and up-to-date.
- Use two-factor authentication where applicable.
- Don’t rely on “ancient” software that’s no longer being developed.
- Assign a single user account to each device used for work.
- Don’t share files that are accessible only to the person who owns them.
- Be careful about what you post on social media.
You may also want to consider having a data breach policy in place to ensure that you respond appropriately if your data is discovered to have been breached.
Company culture as a security risk
Finally, company culture can be a huge security risk for businesses. It’s important to note that this is a risk that can’t be eliminated because you can’t be sure that your employees are following company policy.
However, you can mitigate this risk by making sure that your employees understand the proper course of action when they discover a security risk.
For example, if an employee discovers that a colleague has been using their computer without permission, they should report the incident to their manager. In addition, they should document the incident and then follow the proper course of action, which usually involves contacting an IT support team or reporting the incident to their Human Resources representative.
The most important thing to remember about the risks in your business is that you can’t eliminate them. Instead, you have to mitigate them as much as possible. This means that you should:
- Understand the risks to your business.
- Document the risks, and then look for ways to mitigate them.
In this article, we discussed a number of security risks to consider when running your business. We also reviewed some ways that you can mitigate these risks. In addition, we provided some best practices for taking care of your data and for identifying security risks. Keep these tips in mind when you’re thinking about how to improve your security, and you’ll be on the right track!