For all of the small and mid-size business owners out there and/or the decision makers within a division of a larger organization: Are you setting goals for your organization in the coming year? It’s not too late to make smart decisions about what course of action your organization will take to increase online security and protect your assets.
If you think that’s unnecessary, consider that many are calling 2017 a year of data breaches. No organization was immune, as hackers and other bad actors targeted schools, voters, the entertainment industry, businesses of all sizes and individuals for data theft and fraud. The consensus among experts is that this should be a wake-up call to everyone.
As we enter 2018, now is the perfect time to reflect on how you can improve your IT framework and internal policies to give you the best chance at having a safe and secure year. To help you get started, check out this list of five things I believe every business leader should be doing in this first quarter of the year to review and update their technology best practices, then make it your goal to take the time to walk through the steps.
What are the steps business leaders should take this year to protect their organization?
1. Determine your needs. Now is the time to reflect on how your organization could improve its processes. Consider the size of your business, the level of access required for employees and determine any potential landmines related to a security failure, leak or loss of service.
2. Ask yourself if it’s time to hire an IT consultant. Even for leaders with an IT team on staff, it never hurts to have an independent review of your framework. An outside consultant can help you decide if you need to upgrade your hardware or software and provide your own IT staff with recommendations and support to improve security. Or, you could choose to task a member of your staff with doing an internal review to make recommendations.
3. Consider migrating to a private cloud to store data. Now is the time, if you haven’t already made the update. Many of us are already using cloud services, such as Dropbox and Google, for file sharing to improve processes. Those services utilize the public cloud. I recommend that you lease or own a private cloud with a dedicated IP space to store your data. This provides a layer of security because it lives behind a firewall on a file server, and access through the internet can be restricted.
4. Determine if it’s time to improve your security with use of a VPN. A virtual private network, or VPN, is like a tunnel or gateway through which only approved users may gain access through a layer of authentication. There are many VPN providers, including Private Tunnel, and you can still access Amazon and other sites through these channels. I recommend you choose a known, reputable VPN provider that submits to peer review to ensure the best quality services and security.
5. Adopt increased security protocols to control access. In 2018, you can’t afford not to take this step. There are many different layers of authentication your company can implement to improve security, based on the needs of your organization. You might choose to add two-factor authentication for anyone logging into the network, for example. Another option would be to restrict access by device authentication or through IP address and location-based security.
All of the options listed above may take time to explore and implement, but will absolutely lead to a stronger organizational framework and increased security in 2018. You might also set a first goal of getting further educated on the risks and your options. There are many resources for professional and business leaders to learn more, whether it’s through a local chamber of commerce, recommendations from a professional network or through an online search.
What you don’t want to do is spend another year avoiding the issue. It’s just too important to let this be just another broken resolution.