Ensure Information Security and Awareness in The Workplace

Posted On: April 11, 2018

Technological advancements have caused major changes in organizational behavior. New jobs and fields have developed courtesy of these advancements and cause a shift in the way information was dealt. Information security systems play a crucial role in ensuring smooth flow of business activities.

What is Information Security?

Information security is defined as the protection of information and the system – and hardware that use, store and transmit that information. According to Whitman and Mattord (2005) Information Security is the collection of technologies, standards, policies and management practices that are applied to information to keep it secure.

It includes several important measures such as establishing an IT department and the implementation of virus catching software such as firewalls and anti-viruses. Organizations allocate a significant portion to cyber security as any mishap can prove to be very costly. The rise of E-Commerce and social media – completely reliant on online data transactions – has exemplified the need of Information security.

Why is Information Security Important?

Most of modern day organizations prioritize on the online presence of the business. For an organization, information is its prized asset. Information of the clients, information of employees, trade secrets all make up information. Information consists of every bit of data that passes an organization. It is the responsibility of both – The IT and the Administration department to ensure a smooth, secured flow of information. Unprotected information is very susceptible to breach and unauthorized access.

Crucial data in the wrong hands not only paves way for business downfall but also leads to more severe consequences such as bullying, harassment and exploitation. The vitality of secure information is enhanced by the fact that organizations are now more interconnected than ever. The bulk of confidential data that is exposed to ever growing cyber threats (such as malicious codes, hacking etc.) is in need of regular security. Modern workplaces deal excessively over Internet. Information is in abundance and at your fingertips – and very vulnerable.  From tax records to personal emails, everything is at a threat of unauthorized access.

Why is Information Security Awareness Essential?

Despite the advancements, people at large remain reckless to the possibility of a loss of information. There is a general lack of tendency to secure information which stems from a lack of awareness and a lack of resources. The public sells themselves short, thinking they are too unimportant to be targeted. That is a wrong perception. Education against information theft is a need of modern times. Information Security Awareness is vital for an organization to be successful. An aware employee force weakens the probability of a loss of information to a third party. 

Steps to ensure Information Security Awareness

Organizations need to invest in Information Security Training to ensure that the workforce is up to date with the latest advancements in securing their information. Confidentiality, integrity and availability, also known as the CIA triad, is a model designed to guide policies for information security within an organization. In this context, confidentiality is a set of rules that limits access to information, integrity is the assurance that the information is trustworthy and accurate, and availability is a guarantee of reliable access to the information by authorized people. 

Phishing attacks are one of the most common ways cyber criminals target organizations. Training your workforce to identify phishing through cyber security awareness education, can help you to avoid a malicious attack. An example of phishing is creating emails that look like legitimate. They often come camouflaged as something an employee might be expecting, like a password reset email, a notice from HR, or a shipping confirmation.

Despite cybercriminals strong effort to disguise these emails, there are still several ways to identify phishing attempts that employees should be made aware of. Moreover, emphasis should be on recruitment of qualified personnel in charge of Information security. Organizations tend to look over the qualifications and under estimate the threat of information theft, which may prove costly. Information security is an organizational necessity in the world of today, where one small mistake can become an unavoidable trouble.

Therefore, organizations should do their utmost in helping people keep their data safe. Data security should be an essential part of any growing business. That information contains sensitive financial records and personal information that can be used illicitly if it falls in the wrong hands. Protect yourself do your part to fight cyber-crime by adhering to these 6 rules:

  1. Protect sensitive data with strong passwords. Most cyber attacks succeed usually because they have no trouble breaking through weak passwords. This gives them complete access to wireless networks which are connected to all of the systems in your place of business. To prevent this from happening, always use case sensitive content for passwords that they cannot figure out. A strong password has letters, symbols, and numbers and is not based on specific dates or easy to remember terms. Plus, make sure that all users have their own unique passwords whether they work in the office or in the field. Any master document that contains all of the passwords should be encrypted against breaches.
  2. Fortify existing systems. One of the best ways to reduce exposure to hackers is to limit the access they have to your systems. This includes limiting access to software and hardware by unauthorized personnel and restricting administration access to employees. You can also reduce damage to existing systems and the technology infrastructure by creating unique login credentials for servers and domains for each user on the network. That way each department will be responsible for their own network safety as well.
  3. Update systems regularly. A poorly updated system is irresistible to hackers so make sure all of the systems in the office are updated on a regular basis. There is little point in installing the best software available if it is not protected from hackers and malware. The security applications you install will only be as good as the updates they get since they are not 100% foolproof. As they get upgraded, so do too hackers so it is important to ensure the tools you use are updated regularly. That is the best way to keep users and their information safe. This also includes fixing damaged programs or replacing outdated software that cannot be updated.
  4. Do background and screening checks. Most breaches in online security occur internally and from inside set firewalls and are usually done by employees. To prevent this from happening, screen all new workers thoroughly. This includes entry level employees all the way to the top brass. Besides calling in references, check how credible they are as well by limiting their access to prohibited data or keeping access limited. Also monitor their network activity for suspicious behavior and this includes screening all of their incoming and outgoing messages.
  5. Protect all devices.  The typical workstation is now divided into several smart devices in the workplace. This presents a challenge since all of them may have some sensitive data that should not leave the premises. You can protect your mobile workforce by ensuring all of the devices they use for work are fortified with appropriate security software. They should also be given security awareness training and the sessions should focus on best practices. This includes the dangers of unattended devices, using only trusted networks, using strong passwords etc.
  6. Create access and usage policies. Every business should have risk assessment analysis done regularly to root out network weaknesses. Based on the results, you can create policies that can aid your organization to protect confidential information. These policies should determine who is and isn’t allowed to access certain types of content including the consequences of violations in case of privacy breaches. This includes employee records, customer data, intellectual property and internal communications. Once these policies are implemented, monitoring procedures should also be set in place.

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