by Michael Bruemmer
Isn’t it ironic? So ironic, don’t you think1,that cyber security issues would gain national attention in October, which also happens to be National Cyber Security Awareness Month? Or, perhaps it’s not ironic at all. Perhaps, it’s just a fact of life in the 21st century.
Earlier this month, for instance, a couple of foreign companies made national news when a congressional investigation determined that they posed a national cyber security threat against the United States. As a result, the congressional committee recommended that the U.S. government and domestic companies refrain from using their high-tech equipment.
Along those same lines, American military and intelligence officials warned the U.S. government in October that certain countries present a serious cyber-espionage threat to the Department of Defense.
And these concerns only represent one segment of the cyber security threats faced by public and private organizations on a daily basis.
A recent global study2 on the impact of cyber attacks on critical infrastructure found that 80% of the respondents have faced a large-scale denial of service attack, and 25% reported daily or weekly denial of service attacks or were victims of extortion through network attacks. Denial of service attacks makes computer resources unavailable to users.
The study surveyed IT security executives from 14 countries who work for power grids, oil, gas and water utilities. Overall, the study found that the adoption of security measures severely lags behind the increase in cyber threats and cyber attacks for the critical infrastructure industry.
The same is probably true for many industries. The fact is that no organization – regardless of the industry – is immune from cyber criminal attacks, denial of service attacks, sophisticated malware, cyber extortion and cyber espionage. And since October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, now may be a good time to check and/or update your security measures.
How To Keep Your Data Safe
Here’s a checklist to help keep your data safe.
- Use tougher authentication measures. You may want to go beyond passwords, and use token and biometric identifiers. If that’s not necessary, be sure to use passwords on desktops, laptops, computers and mobile devices.
- Install the most up-to-date firewall, anti-spam and anti-virus software.
- Educate C-level executives, employees, contractors and vendors on the importance of Internet safety and the use of long, strong passwords.
- Restrict access to sensitive data. Not all employees or outside vendors need to have access to your consumers’ personal identifying information. The less people who have access, the less likely you are to experience a data breach.
- Encrypt laptops, mobile devices and files that contain personal identifying information or other sensitive data.
- Upload the latest patches to fix any problems with your software programs.
- Properly dispose of files you no longer need. When disposing of sensitive data, you should physically destroy the hard drive that contains the data. Otherwise, someone may be able to retrieve that data if the computer is sold or donated.
This article was written by Michael Bruemmer and originally published on corporatecomplianceinsights