Your business is more than how you make your living. Your business is your passion project, your baby. You would do almost anything to ensure that your baby grows healthy and strong, and that means identifying and removing potential threats before they can inflict real harm.
Unfortunately, though, when it comes to security for your business, dangers can often arise in the most unexpected places. This article examines some of the most significant unexpected security risks your business may face and describes effective strategies for preventing them.
SCAMS & CYBERCRIME
You may pride yourself on the cybersecurity training and technologies your company provides, but simply establishing a password-protected network and offering yearly employee courses is unlikely to be sufficient. In this case, complacency is your worst enemy.
That’s because cybercriminals are both ingenious and determined, and that means that cyber threats are constantly evolving. Scams and cybercrimes rarely come in the expected form of suspicious emails or dubious websites. Nowadays, cybercriminals excel in their ability to disguise their malicious content as harmless material from a trusted source, site, or organization.
For example, an increasing number of phishing scams are coming not in the form of an unsolicited email but in the form of text messaging, known as “smishing.” That means that your employees must be trained not only to be wary of dangers online but also on their personal and work phones.
In addition to providing employees with continuous updates on emerging threats and their various forms, it is also essential to establish corporate policies in which work products and sensitive business data are to be transmitted only through company-issued devices that are secured with a virtual private network (VPN), firewall, or a related advanced security system.
FAILURE TO SHRED THE NECESSARY DOCUMENTS
The odds are that you have already implemented document-shredding policies in your organization to safeguard your company data. The problem, however, is that few companies are actually destroying every type of document that might pose a threat.
Even the most seemingly innocuous material, from junk mail to birthday cards to special event promotions, can give criminals the basic information they need about your employees to pull off a scam. Birthday cards and promotions, of course, can provide bad actors with your date of birth, which is one of the most common security challenge questions.
Other forms of junk mail are usually designed to target recipients based on their interests and spending habits. This, too, can give criminals insight into the type of social engineering scam your employees might be most vulnerable to, based on their preferences and habits.
It’s difficult to think of your trusted employees and partners as a potential security threat, but that is the reality. Unfortunately, internal threats, like cybercrimes, can come in many forms.
Careless and complacent employees, for example, may slacken in their adherence to company cybersecurity policies. This is especially true if they’re facing an unusually punishing workload, excessively long shifts, or significant periods working remotely. They may give little thought to sending or receiving work-related messages on their personal, and unsecured, phones. If that phone is ever hacked, lost, or stolen, then company data may be compromised.
Then there are, of course, the risks associated with a conscious bad actor, the employee who consciously and deliberately violates company policies or even engages in cybercrime against the company for their own personal gain. Though this is, perhaps, less of a risk than other internal threats, without careful employee screening, rigorous management, and proactive security measures, the threat is, indeed, real.
Another significant but often overlooked internal threat comes from vendors and partners. Your company’s cybersecurity is only as strong as its weakest link. If your vendors and third-party stakeholders aren’t as vigilant in their security protocols as your company is, then your business, employees, and clients may be vulnerable.
In light of these internal threats, it’s important to institute a zero-tolerance policy for employee infractions. Similarly, it is incumbent upon decision-makers to research and continuously monitor the security policies of third-party partners. Ideally, partners’ security policies, obligations, and responsibilities would be codified before any partnership contract was ratified with your company.
Your small business, employees, and clients depend on you and your company leaders to identify and guard against any and all security threats. Unfortunately, security threats can come in a wide array of forms and from various unexpected sources. This is why it is essential to understand and protect against both expected and unexpected risks.
Among the most substantial of these unexpected threats include risks deriving from internal agents, the constant evolution of cybercrime, and the failure to destroy all documents, even the most seemingly harmless. This typically involves ongoing employee training and security alerts, the establishment of a highly secure network that employees must use exclusively for all work and work-related communications, and a zero-tolerance policy for policy violations for both employees and third parties.