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Three Information Security Hazards In Your Workplace

Editorial Team June 21, 2013 0
Three Information Security Hazards In Your Workplace

Can you do your job without technology?

Take away our computers and most of us would revert back to ink pens and spiral notebooks. And frankly, we probably wouldn’t handle it very well.

But it could get worse. Our assets are now digital assets. When businesses computer systems are breached and vital information is stolen, we have a bigger problem on our hands than missing equipment. Not only will operations come to a screeching halt; we could also be vulnerable to having confidential files exposed or to having trade secrets fall into the wrong hands.

Is everyone in your organization familiar with the broad concepts behind information security in the workplace?

Malware can be unintentionally downloaded when a worker installs something from an unknown source. When malware hits your servers, the effects can range from no apparent problem at all to destruction of your IT infrastructure. “Malware,” quite simply, is “malicious software” and include viruses, worms, trojans, adware and spyware. All of them perform unwanted actions on computer systems. If you’re seeing pop-ups that run automatic “virus scans” telling you to buy something, or if your computer is running much slower than usual, you could have an infection.

The best defense is to isolate the computer from the Internet. That probably isn’t a feasible solution for a work computer, so the next-best option is to use quality anti-virus and anti-spyware applications. Inform workers about the dangers of downloading bundled “optional” programs when downloaded something else. Malware also spreads via peer-to-peer programs such as torrent sites, so avoid them at work.

Breached passwords were a massive headache for the daily deal site LivingSocial early this year. 50 million passwords, names, emails and birth dates were stolen. Unintentional exposure can lead to identity theft and exposure of sensitive corporate data. A senior editor of Wired magazine says his entire digital life was ruined when hackers gained the passwords to his Apple, Twitter and Gmail accounts.

The best defense is a better password. You’d be surprised how many people use the word “password” or “123456” to protect their accounts. The name of your pet, spouse or favorite band isn’t much better. You need a string of numbers, letters and (if possible) other characters. Use a password generator to come up with secure passwords. And never re-use the same password for different accounts.

Stolen digital equipment can mean more than the loss of hardware. A flash drive or laptop might contain business files you want to keep out of the wrong hands. It’s great that we can carry around expensive business tools these days, but having them stolen could mean losing your passwords, credit card info and more.

The best defense is to be careful using laptops, tablets and other hardware in public places. Don’t leave computer equipment in your car, on the coffee shop table or anywhere else where it could attract the attention of thieves. Install anti-theft software that can help locate stolen devices and remotely lock them to restrict access. Make sure your data is securely backed up, so a lost laptop won’t also mean lost information.

Hackers, viruses and phishing emails are a nasty part of daily life at the modern office. You and everyone you work with have to be aware of the threats. Being aware is the first step toward being vigilant and taking the appropriate steps to keep personal information and business data safe and secure. Making sure your IT staff has the information assurance training it needs is vital.

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