Top 3 Reasons Why Information Security & IT Maintenance is Important
1) Proving that your company has a secure and stable network assures your clients/customers that their information is safeguarded. Can your company withstand the costs and negative publicity that could occur if there is a security breach?
It is important to think of a security breach in terms of dollars lost in operations. Sales, customer service, staff productivity and workflow could all be affected by the downtime that will occur. Even after systems are restored, many times, additional checks need to be done to ensure that all facets of the network are clean before business can return to a normal operational state.
The average cost of a data breach is on the rise. Costs went up by over 30% between 2006 and 2007. A study by the Ponemon Institute reports that the average cost to a company per record compromised is approximately $200. In addition to these costs, the organization may also lose customers from the negative publicity and may be subject to on-going security audits to ensure the incident does not occur again.
The cost of a security incident will almost always be higher than the cost of its prevention. Your IT service provider can help tailor a security plan to your risk level, specific business needs, and financial budget.
2) Insurers are increasingly interested in how companies secure their information assets. It is often a consideration in renewal discussions.
Since customers are beginning to do more of their business online, this is one factor that will begin to resonate with all companies – no matter how small or large – and the trend will only continue to grow. Insurance agencies are beginning to demand that businesses protect consumer privacy. It is becoming more and more common for insurers to ask for proof that sensitive information is secure and network security software is up-to-date.
If you maintain confidential client information on your network such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, and other financial data, you should to talk to your IT consultant about assessing the strength of your firewall. A firewall can be described as a gatekeeper to allow network actions from trusted parties and keep out unauthorized users and harmful viruses. There are also several ways a firewall can be configured and there are pluses and minuses to each.
Depending on your security needs and organizational structure, it may be best to set up one integrated firewall to cover your hardware, software, and intranet or it may be better to set up several independent mechanisms with custom levels of protection. Your IT professional can configure the optimal solution for your business.
3) Having consistent security practices and IT maintenance procedures ensures a smooth road for business operations.
You must ensure that your computer network is securely configured and actively managed against known threats. New security threats are emerging every day – from malware programs that can be inadvertently installed on a user’s machine, to phishing attempts that deceive employees into giving up confidential information, to viruses, worms, and strategic identity theft attempts. IT professionals are the first to know about new threats. One of the benefits of having a consistent technology expert on your roster is that they can offer a fast reaction time and be proactive in safeguarding your IT system when new warnings first emerge.
Your IT network professional can also help your organization maintain a secure virtual environment by reviewing all computer assets and determining a plan for preventive maintenance. This includes routinely cleaning up unnecessary or unsafe programs and software, applying security patches (small pieces of software designed to improve computer security), and performing routine scans to check for intrusions. You may also want to review access rights and have your IT professional set up an automated procedure that requires your employees to change their passwords at regular intervals to further protect your information assets.
Things you should consider when assessing your network security:
- When is the last time I upgraded my virus protection? Am I using the latest release to maximize security?
- Is my network security and firewall configured in the optimal way to protect my customer data?
- Do all of my employees need access to the same level of data?
- Which individuals or departments should have access to confidential client information?
- Should certain programs be password protected?
- How often should we require password changes?
- Is the current password set-up too weak? (i.e. do you require alphanumeric passwords of 6 or more characters?)
- When is the last time you had an IT professional review your network security?
Look out for part 2 to this article “Simple Ways to Protect and Defend Against Viruses, Hackers, and Other Avoidable IT Problems”
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