All modern businesses incorporate some form of technology into their work operations. Innovation in IT is all the rage these days which is why business technology too, is budding with novel solutions.

With the growth of the corporate sector, most companies contend with high competition and are always looking for ways to gain a competitive advantage. All too often, a new business tool seems like the answer to their problems so they’re quick to adopt it instantly.

And it makes sense too: Business technology promises to streamline work operations for companies. You automate menial tasks, free up more time for other functions, and get access to better reporting. But while the benefits are all too obvious, the threats fail to receive the attention that they should. Here are the major pain points that you should be prepared to face if your company uses a lot of business tools:

1. Cyber attacks

Cyber attacks are one of the top ten threats to global businesses according to The World Economic Forum (WEF). These are unauthorized security breaches aimed to gain access to crucial company assets like financial information, personal data, or intellectual property. A lot of times, hackers only access company systems to disrupt work operations.

Most companies’ IT landscapes have a handful of vulnerabilities in them and one little opening is enough to serve as a hacker’s gateway to your systems. This is true for organizations of all sizes, both small and large (while one would assume small businesses lack the resources for a sophisticated cyber protection framework, large enterprises like Sony aren’t safe either).

As technology evolves, so do the kinds of cyber threats that it is exposed to. This is why it is important to actively safeguard your company’s data and systems. Here are a set of precautionary measures that you can take to improve safety around your IT landscape.

  1. Ensure that all your systems are protected by updated and high-quality security programs. This should absolutely not be compromised on.
  2. Restrict user access to your data. Only provide employees access to information that they require for their functions.
  3. Shut down systems and remove portable storage devices after use so they aren’t exposed to any attacks.
  4. Encrypt your data so that hackers are unable to decode it even if they do gain access to it.

2. Improper hardware disposal

Your company probably has a lot of sensitive data stored across several different drives, CDs, and USBs. You aren’t alone; with cheaper storage options now available, many companies end up storing tonnes of old or redundant data. This results in data which is poorly organized and hard to protect.

Any kind of information that is serving no value to your company should be tossed but proper data erasure requires a dedicated effort. A 2016 study reported that about 78% of all hard drives disposed of still contained personal or confidential information. It also stated that about 40% of the drives had undergone a quick format but still contained critical information.

Your data in the wrong hands could lead to major setbacks for your company. Avoid this fate by following rigorous data wiping procedures. The NIST 800-88 is a popular data sanitization standard which is endorsed by the US government and is gaining popularity in the corporate sector. It outlines three different methodologies that can be used for a complete data wipe:

  1. Clear: removes all data by overwriting new information to a device.
  2. Purge: uses a magnetic field to remove the information stored on a device and is suitable for damaged devices.
  3. Destroy: damages the device by physical means like shredding and melting. This renders a device non-functional.

3. Software and data non-compliance

Non-compliance with IT regulations can lead to massive financial losses and can tie up your resources. With the rise of business technology, companies have too many tools on their hands and ensuring compliance becomes difficult. Software vendors can send expensive lawsuits your way and cause major disruptions in your workflows. Additionally, with data protection policies like the GDPR, data processing is also bound to conform to a set of regulations.

While gaining compliance for all your data and software sounds overwhelming, taking the right actions can help take the weight off your shoulders. Set up a dedicated compliance program at your company by:

  1. Entrusting a set of individuals with the responsibility of monitoring compliance so it is actively taken care of.
  2. Performing internal audits twice a year to assess your compliance framework.
  3. Ensuring that you understand all vendor terms before you procure any software.
  4. Having compliance expertise and legal help at hand at all times.

4. Unforeseen outages

Natural disasters, software downtime, internet problems, system corruption or cyber attacks can all lead to unforeseen outages. Sometimes these mean that a company has to temporarily halt its operations but other times it could result in critical data loss.

In order to save your company from the repercussions of a sudden outage, have a well-thought-out disaster recovery plan that ensures all your data is safe even in the worst case scenario. Always be prepared for everything to go wrong because sometimes it will. Here is what we recommend:

  1. Compile a complete inventory of all your hardware, software, and data and prioritize your resources based on their functions.
  2. Save all of your software programs on CDs and store them off-premise.
  3. Identify critical data from all your IT resources and schedule it for automatic backups to a server.
  4. Back up data from the server to a storage device and store it off-premise.
  5. Test your data recovery plan by scheduling drills to evaluate its robustness.

Proceed with caution

The world embraced IT so quickly that it didn’t have time to evaluate the consequences it could have. With implementing anything new, it is important to always tread carefully and be on the lookout for warning signs. Incorporating business tools is no different. While they certainly have the potential to pave the way for businesses, they will be detrimental if not used with caution.

A final recommendation: understand that effective protection from technology risks cannot be gained without a dedicated team effort so be sure to educate your staff about the threats and how they can take steps to protect their company as well.

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