Protecting against the future: How to keep business security up-to-date

If you overlook introducing new technologies and solutions into your business, you run the risk of being left behind.

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For each technological innovation pushing enterprises forward today, there seem to be just as many horror stories about data leaks, successful hacks, ransomware and worse. It’s enough to give even the most confident entrepreneur or manager pause. Likewise, it’s indicative of a disconnect that exists between the pace of innovation and technological implementation overall, and the framework and infrastructure that exists to secure these new solutions.

Nowhere is that discrepancy more keenly felt than in the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) into the business sphere today. The pace of these technologies coming online is consistently recognized as far surpassing the speed of security solutions that’d be capable of keeping these interconnected devices free from harm, intrusion and malicious intent.

Overcoming uncertainty in your business tech strategy

If you overlook introducing new technologies and solutions into your business, you run the risk of being left behind. But perhaps understandably, there can be a reluctance to invest in IoT systems, even those as simple as printers and smart thermostats for your business premises, due to the risk of them exposing your company’s data.

While much of the future of IoT remains unclear, quite simply because many of the solutions to our concerns are yet to be invented, there are still ways of future-proofing your approach and strategy in such a way as to maximise your business security – no matter how many or how few IoT devices you choose to implement.

One such way is investing in solid, enterprise-level server security, as well as exploring the opportunities offered by business VPNs or using a segregated network. The latter is a useful means of, as the name implies, literally creating your own business network to which only a limited and monitored the number of devices can connect at any one time.

But of course, even a segregated network could be accessed if it is not sufficiently protected. As with many things in cybersecurity, ongoing and persistent vigilance and improvement are essential – there is, unfortunately, no “set-and-forget” solution that’s forever impregnable. For this reason, modern security is increasingly proactive in its design, with firewalls and endpoint security tools used to prevent threats before they can even be detected by traditional antivirus and to try and compensate for the risks that human error can pose.

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Create a culture of safety and security

To protect small business security, it is vital that there is responsibility at every level. While the fear of a data breach may conjure images of hackers who are actively looking to break into your system, the reality is far less dramatic, but even more concerning.

Research conducted by Apricorn in 2019 discovered that 63 percent of UK organizations considered human error the main cause of data breaches within their organization. While a small number of breaches might be malicious, the vast majority will simply be the result of complacency or a lack of knowledge on the part of the staff.

By providing regular training, the staff at all levels of the company will develop improved awareness about threats and how to combat them. It will also have the added benefit of keeping security best practices at the forefront of everyone’s thinking on a daily basis. Regular meetings will give staff a platform to ask questions and flag issues, ensuring everyone involved with the business has a voice and changing cybersecurity from instruction by the higher-ups into a common, company-wide, goal.

While security tools play an important role in protecting your company’s data, making sure staff are engaged in a positive culture in which responsibility is shared is key to reducing human error, and therefore, the level of risk of a data breach occurring.

Remember that physical and digital security are interconnected

It’s easy for the physical security of staff and assets to be considered as a separate issue from the digital security of data and sensitive files, yet everything is more connected today than ever. Training your staff in best practices for physical and digital security alike, and ensuring that even contractors brought in for temporary work are likewise brought into the fold as far as your policies and procedures are concerned, creates a vital framework around keeping your business secure at every level.

With remote working on the rise, it is now essential to consider the security implications of your staff working in public places or on public transport. Not only is an antivirus and strong security essential for protecting data accessed remotely, but additional care has to be taken with the physical device itself, which is at increased risk of loss or theft outside the office environment.

The use of strong, frequently changed passwords, two-factor authentication and restricting users access to only the data and documents required for their work, might cause a little grousing within your staff – yet the alternative is a more lax outlook that creates weak links in the chain, and those are all an opportunist needs to access your systems and files.

Recognize the smartest of the smart solutions

As with any emerging industrial sector or burgeoning market demographic, there are reams of failed IoT startups and products that have fallen a few steps from the starting gate.

While this does nothing to diminish the view that the IoT is a fad, the overall outlook for the market suggests otherwise, and instead what is advised is to determine which IoT products are worth investments with a long shelf life, and which are seemingly innovations for their own sake, causing problems while failing to solve what they were purportedly first designed for.

While the market evens out, don’t be afraid to take a longer-term view of IoT integration into your own business strategy. While there is much to be said of the old adage of striking while the iron is hot, another still insists that only fools rush in – so it’s often wise to temper your expectations.

By taking the time to find the correct IoT products for your needs will help to ensure longevity and efficiency, without undermining security. Cooler heads definitely prevail when it comes to preparing your business for the future of IoT and cybersecurity alike. Adopting a longer-term view, that only integrates new devices which are able to support your security best practices, can help to ensure you’ll be a success story once this fast-moving market finds its feet.