As companies have to handle ever-increasing volumes of data, their concern about information security also grows. Many risk situations are involved, so we describe below eight main recommendations for your IT team that will help them increase data security.
1. Map and resolve all security vulnerabilities
First, identify potential and real system vulnerabilities and, after that, create an action plan to address them. An outdated infrastructure causes inefficiencies and is subject to technical failures and system intrusion. Security practices can be adopted for computers, servers, software solutions, and other infrastructure components.
Considering that it is impossible to have a 100% threat-free environment, an effective vulnerability management program should include:
- process preparation based on complete mapping of the IT infrastructure and business needs;
- assignment of internal or outsourced professionals who are responsible for the various tasks related to data security;
- mapping of all risks that may affect the functioning of the infrastructure in terms of hardware, software, and people;
- data analysis and prioritization of more urgent risks;
- development of reports to monitor actions and results for comparison over time;
- management of vulnerabilities with well-defined procedures for fast response;
- definition of metrics that reflect the work efficiency and show what should be improved;
- constant investment in team training to reduce human errors.
A continuous improvement cycle based on these guidelines promotes preventive and corrective actions that will mitigate and control risks.
2. Create a human firewall
Human firewall refers to people who follow best practices to prevent and report any data breaches or suspicious activity in the company’s system and network.
Then, part of your team training should focus on building awareness of the risks of cyber attacks and how to avoid them.
With this understanding, employees will be able to identify potential threats, representing an additional layer of network security. An even more complete program may include topics related to data protection and the GDPR – General Data Protection Regulation.
3. Adopt a backup strategy
Having backup copies of important data is an obvious tip, but surprisingly, many companies neglect it. Databases need at least two copies stored in different locations outside the company’s building.
Also, it is important to have a Disaster Recovery Plan. Then, if something goes wrong, you can retrieve data easily.
4. Implement a redundant infrastructure
A redundant IT infrastructure means crucial components are duplicated to prevent interruptions due to system failure. For example, take a platform that operates with two servers; when one server has problems, the other will be able to keep the services running.
The same idea applies to databases, network devices, energy sources, and other critical elements to prevent losses after long periods of technical failures.
5. Create access controls
Managing who can or cannot access the system and the levels of access allowed to different user profiles is crucial for information security. Protection mechanisms can be physical, logical, or a mixture of these two types.
Biometric sensors and electronic door locks are examples of physical mechanisms. Logical mechanisms include firewalls and digital signature systems.
6. Develop an information security policy
As every information security system has to follow certain guidelines, your company needs an information security policy. These rules support the adoption of good practices to help avoid vulnerabilities that can put system data at risk.
This policy should be developed with the IT staff and all other departments of the organization to ensure specific demands of every department are taken into account. The document itself has to be short and objective to facilitate employee training and the enforcement of the rules.
7. Adopt non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
Non-disclosure agreements are used when a company outsources certain activities and has to share data with third parties. Three basic types of NDAs are commonly used:
Unilateral NDAs are used when only one party shares data that have to be protected.
In bilateral NDAs, both parties in an agreement exchange confidential information.
In multilateral NDAs, both parties want to protect the confidentiality of data, but each party has different degrees of responsibility. One party may want to protect customer information, while the other may want to protect information about methods of production, for example.
8. Adopt risk management approaches
Finally, we highlight the importance of adopting methods for risk management. Basically, your company needs to classify risks into four categories:
Lack of technical knowledge
The failure to provide knowledge of how to operate systems and devices is a problem that can be solved with constant training. Then, it’s important to train common users and the IT team itself to update them on information security best practices and transform them into human firewalls.
Although a company may already have a risk management structure, specific situations may still have vulnerabilities. Managers should identify aspects in procedures that can be improved and develop action plans to address them.
In some situations, although users know how to proceed, they decide to assume risky behaviors. To avoid that, companies must constantly invest in awareness. Always keep employees informed about risks related to malicious files and misuse of equipment.
The possibility of intentional acts to violate information security practices of an organization cannot be ruled out. For this reason, it’s important to implement methods that can detect threats and take action whenever a risk situation is observed.
In order to put all tips above into practice, your company needs a well-structured work methodology.
To learn more about this subject, study the main concepts behind IT Service Management and see how to optimize your team management.
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