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Top Five IT Risks for Businesses In 2016

Protecting your business has become more challenging as threats are increasingly infiltrating in a variety of ways. It is critical to have an IT security plan in place to protect your company and educate your staff.

1. Regulatory non-compliance

Federal IT regulations, including PCI compliance, are constantly being updated to increase the minimum level of network security required for businesses. It is crucial to remain current and compliant with these regulations, as a failed audit could have a serious impact on an organization’s ability to conduct business (read How Sage X3 Simplifies Sarbanes-Oxley Compliance). These regulations include strict measures applying to the security of network infrastructures, physical security, IT policies and procedures, and the handling of data.

2. Cyber threats

Cyber threats have become a leading risk to all businesses that handle financial transactions over a network. Insecure network infrastructure, outdated or ineffective IT control policies and procedures, and an exponential increase in the number and variety of online attacks has lead these threats to become a primary risk.

Among the leading malware threats is the new breed of virus called Ransomware, which has the ability to encrypt all data on a network, virtually undetected. Entire businesses have been crippled against these types of attacks. Aside from the expected threats from viruses, malware, and phishing attacks via email that are aimed at infecting computers, an increase in the types of networked devices has expanded the range of vulnerabilities to attack.

With the growing prevalence of mobile devices, the amount of mobile malware threats has increased exponentially. These devices often lack even the most basic of security, but are usually allowed to connect to an organization’s secured wireless network, bypassing its defenses. These are accompanied by an expanding variety of other newly networked devices called the Internet of Things (IoT), which includes credit card scanners, HVAC systems, networked building security, phone infrastructure, and even lighting systems controlled remotely. All of these can be hacked and serve as a vulnerability to a secured network.

A common vulnerability towards cyber attacks is poor employee security awareness training. While it is often viewed as a low priority item, it has been estimated that almost 90% of cyber attacks could have been prevented with basic employee security awareness. Ensuring that employees are able to identify when their computer, mobile device, or data is compromised, and whom to alert immediately, can mean the difference between an inconvenience and a catastrophe.

See Also: Cybersecurity Assessment Services

3. Data theft or corruption

Whether caused by external hacking, employee error, or internal attack, the theft or corruption of data is a serious risk. Compromising the security or integrity of any data can have far-reaching impacts on an organization. Either could result in a severe loss of clients and consumer confidence, as well as have a drastic financial impact on the business. If found at fault for lack of adequate security measures, the organization can be held liable for punitive damages to customers and federal regulation infractions.

4. Disruption of operations

The disruption of a company’s core operations can effectively halt its ability to do business (read Network Security on a Budget). The vulnerabilities causing this risk, with regards to an IT perspective, can include cyber threats, power outages without redundancy, damage to network equipment, or a loss of data. The lack of reliable and tested data backups also poses a common risk for organizations, as does ineffective emergency recovery procedures. Both of these often result in extended downtime, further damaging the organization’s ability to function.

5. Risk Assessment

The objective is to reduce the vulnerability that an organization has towards each of these threats/risks in order to minimize the potential negative impact they could cause. After identifying and assessing the potential risks (read Get Your IT House in Order), the next step is to prioritize resources based on their value to the company and the level of impact they could have if compromised, measured against the evaluated likelihood of each vulnerability being exploited. Following this will be a thorough analysis to determine the most appropriate and feasible way to mitigate each risk, best suited to fit the organization’s resources and needs.

October is National Cyber Security Month

First Blog in the Series: Cybersecurity Things You Should Know

Brandon Siegfried

Written by Brandon Siegfried

Brandon focuses on Storage, backups, Windows Servers and O365 Administration. He graduated from Bloomsburg University with a Business Administration degree and attended New Horizons for computer training. When Brandon is not working, he enjoys spending time with family, hiking, hunting and relaxing in the mountains.