If you work in information technology, chances are that your organization has a ton of “bits” of information at rest with little to no security. In other words, most organizations have a trove of data sitting on servers and backups waiting to be exploited by those who may wish harm upon them.
These bits can potentially include customer information, trade secrets, intellectual property, employee information and more. Not only is protecting this data critical to your organization, but it will also help you protect the brand and reputation of your company.
Failure to plan for such a possibility could cost immensely if sensitive information should fall into the wrong hands. Fortunately, there are easy steps you can take to logically ensure that should something happen, all bases have been covered and mitigate the effect of a breach.
What Small and Mid-Sized Businesses Should Know About Information Security
First and foremost, it is important to realize that the information security landscape is rapidly changing. Attempting to discuss this topic without factoring in these changes could prove challenging for those who are unaware of what today’s threats look like.
While many things remain the same, the bad guys aren’t all that different either. Information security professionals still work to protect against the same core types of attacks: website defacement, insider and hacktivist threats, and targeted data breaches.
What is different, however, is how information security professionals must now deal with those who attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in mobile devices. There are also the challenges associated with protecting “big data” as well as an ever-increasing number of cyber-threats.
Planning, communicating and creating a secure environment is key to protecting an organization’s information security. The best defense against these threats is having a solid plan in place that should the worst happen, all are well informed on what to do next.
Every small or mid-sized business should have an IT department responsible for creating, maintaining and updating their information security plan.
Having an information security plan should be just as important as having a business continuity or disaster recovery plan.
Key Points to Remember When Creating Your Information Security Plan
It is not a good idea to start creating your info security plan without bearing these tips in mind.
Keep it Simple
One of the most difficult aspects to consider when creating a plan for information security is that of simplicity. Information security professionals are constantly faced with risks that span across the organization and while every department has an interest in safeguarding information, it is important to remember that not all will want to contribute.
To create an effective information security plan, it is important to keep in mind the perspective of each department when considering how they will contribute to the effort.
It is important for those involved with information security to assume responsibility as well as accountability. One way this could be done would include those responsible creating an action plan that includes provisions should something go wrong.
For example, when creating an action plan for data breach, the plan could include how a company will inform its clients and/or employees and what they will and will not say.
Communication is Key
Many businesses fail to update their security plans simply because they forget to keep internal and external stakeholders informed of changes or revisions that have been made. The best way to avoid this is by sending out regular emails or holding meetings that are related to information security. This helps with keeping everyone in the loop and less likely to forget about the plan itself.
Maintain an Information Security Plan
A common mistake businesses make when they create a security plan is assuming that they will only need it once. Unfortunately, it is important to remember that just like any other plan, an information security plan is a living document.
In fact, it is crucial from time to time to update the plan with changes or revisions as they may be necessary based on changes within the company and its peers. Without keeping this in mind, organizations run the risk of not being able to properly protect themselves when the worst case scenario occurs.
Creating a Good Info Security Plan: Steps to Take
There are several steps you should take as soon as possible to create your information security plan:
- Use cloud storage rather than storing data on local machines
- Use good encryption to protect data when it is in transit and when it is at rest on a computer or in the cloud. This will ensure hackers are not able to exploit vulnerabilities in the software being used even if they manage to steal some of your company’s data.
- Have strong security for physical devices where possible, although this may be harder depending on the nature of your business.
- Use a multi-layered approach to cybersecurity so an attack on one layer does not lead to a compromise of the entire system as happened with Target in 2013 when hackers made off with their customers’ credit card information.
- Use strong passwords and never reuse them.
- Keep software updated so hackers cannot exploit bugs in the code to steal data or take control of your company’s machines.
- Have a plan for dealing with security breaches and be clear on who is responsible for what during such an event.
- Create backups so if there is a problem you can restore your system to how it was before.
- Review the security plan at least annually or whenever there is a change in the company or its systems.
These are all very simple steps that can be taken at relatively low cost and can protect against security threats that will cost companies billions of dollars.
Creating an information security plan is a simple process and one that can be undertaken even by those in small businesses. In fact, it is a process all businesses should undertake if they haven’t already as the consequences of not doing so can be felt throughout an organization’s existence.
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