Most common IT sins: Understand them, avoid them, tackle them

Information technology is a rapidly evolving field. But with technology changing day by day, the chances of being hit by a cyberattack is also increasing, because today’s rock-solid standard may be obsolete and vulnerable tomorrow. To avoid all sorts of security breaches, from worldwide hackers to onsite intruders, the IT field has to remain vigilant and proactive, from an individual to organizational level. It’s not always a third-party entity wreaking havoc on your organization. Often, a lack of oversight and carelessness by your internal people might lead to disastrous situations. To avoid these nightmare scenarios, you first need to understand possible issues and learn to either avoid or tackle these IT sins.

Insecure networks

As the Internet evolves, network security has become one of the most vital factors for companies to consider. Networks play a vital role in the functioning of any company, whether it’s a small business or a global conglomerate.

Most companies have decided to move on from wired networks and have gone wireless. Although there are a lot of benefits using wireless networks, it has drawbacks. Wireless networks are not secure by default and are prone to attacks. It is also worth noting that network security attacks have been evolving with an improving technology of their own. More and more types of security breaches are being encountered daily in companies across the globe. Because network security is often thwarted by humans, mistakes such as misconfiguring network equipment, weak passwords, sharing network resources, and improper user access can prove to be a deadly threat to any company.

 IT sins

It is hard to estimate the impact on a company because of laxity in its network security. It can sometimes just be a person or a group of people using your company’s Internet bandwidth or it can be a hacker stealing your confidential data. There are a lot of areas to concentrate on, to avoid issues arising from insecure networks, such as physically securing the network peripherals, setting up strong passwords, use of network security protocols, and strong encryption standards.

Monitoring your network resources and its usage is strongly recommended to avoid and spot network attacks. (Small businesses can find some tips of how to increase their WiFi security here.)

Neglecting updates

This is arguably the No. 1 reason your network security will fail. Updating all your software and hardware assets is necessary to keep your network secure and stable. But many companies neglect even critical software updates and continue with their existing set of tools and systems. The reasons behind this could be that the company is not willing to spend money to upgrade existing software or, in the case of free security patches, the upgrade process may be too time consuming and cause downtime that affects productivity. Although regular updates and patches consume time and money, they are still worth it.

Updated software and hardware are less prone to failure when compared with their older versions. With every update, both software and hardware becomes more resistant to cyberattacks and, in many cases, will increase overall productivity.

Do not compromise on the security of your company and all your employees for the sake of time and money.

Unencrypted connections

Underestimating the importance of encryption in safeguarding your data is considered to be one of the biggest sins in IT. It is mandatory to encrypt your network and its resources to prevent them from being exploited.

Encryption is important because it protects valuables such as email, confidential data, online accounts, user credentials, legal documents, transactional data, and more. Not encrypting your email and data transfers is an open invitation to intruders to access your confidential data.

IT sins

While encryption standards keep getting raised and encryption techniques keep getting better, hackers are not standing still. With every new encryption technique, hackers improve their technology to find ways to bypass the new standards and steal your data. Therefore, you not only need to encrypt all your confidential data, you also need to encrypt them using the most advanced encryption standards — and be aware that today’s encryption gold standard may change virtually overnight.

Broken firewalls

Firewalls play a vital role in keeping your networked systems safe and secure. However, people often overlook firewalls and focus on other areas for the security and protection of data. For instance, even the best antivirus solutions and the most advanced encryption standards cannot protect you from cyber threats if you don’t have a proper firewall configured. While antivirus or other security mechanisms aid in protecting your data from intruders, a firewall helps to keep intruders or attackers away from entering your system in the first place.

Firewalls not only monitor all the traffic flowing through the network but can also identify and block unwanted or suspicious traffic from your network. Firewalls are also essential in setting up the online rules for users. For instance, firewalls can control online activities of the users in a network through packet filtering, proxy services, and site inspections.

A firewall is the very first line of defense for any network. It protects the systems from port scans, data, and bandwidth thefts, unauthorized access, and various other threats. Therefore, it is essential to configure the firewalls well and also monitor them regularly to avoid consequences related to security breaches.

Mobile negligence

Mobile devices and mobile technology are unmatched assets in the world of IT, provided you use them properly and securely. If not, they can be the easiest means for intruders to access your confidential information. With the advent of smartphones and their applications, almost everyone is using these small flashy devices to access secure information such as email, online accounts, and transactional details. Among the major smartphone operating systems, Android-based devices are the most vulnerable to attacks compared to devices using Apple’s iOS.

IT sins

Cyberattacks against mobile devices, especially on smartphones, are increasing significantly day by day. Therefore, be it for personal use or professional use, it is advised to download and install proper security solutions to safeguard yourself. Moreover, regularly updating the operating system and other system apps on mobile devices is always a good measure. Also, make sure you don’t connect to any free WiFi networks just for the sake of using the Internet. If you’re using public, unencrypted WiFi to communicate with your office or check office email, for example, hackers can capture information and your keystrokes.

Lack of proper backup

Having a proper backup for all your systems, processes, and, most importantly, the data is also mandatory. Most current backup applications are very advanced and come with an integrated backup mechanism. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that it has got you covered. Although modern storage units have excellent native backup capabilities, they still have drawbacks, including the major issue of indexing, which results in a very slow data access.

Think of a scenario where you don’t have your data backed up and your entire data repositories get fried in an accident. You will not only lose all your data, but you might also lose the trust of your clients — and a resulting loss of money. But it is not enough to simply have a proper backup mechanism. You must use it. And, perhaps most importantly, you must also be sure your restore process will work. Having a good backup that you cannot restore is like having no backup at all.

Just do it!

Yes, keeping your business secure involves some expenditure and a good amount of time. But it is worth it. As a return on investment, you not only get security and backup for all your data, you also get peace of mind. Not a bad investment after all.

Photo credit: Flickr / Dennis Hill

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