It’s 1973. You own a bike shop. Every night you empty the safe, double check all the windows and lock the door with a hefty padlock. It’s a no-brainer – you need to protect your assets from tank-top wearing criminals, so you do.
Fast forward to 2016, and the problem has got significantly trickier. You use the internet for banking, file storage and sensitive communications. Your assets are no longer merely physical, with proprietary software and databases counting alongside bike racks and spanners on your balance sheet. Whenever you ask anyone where something is, they say it’s ‘in the cloud’.
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a digital padlock to protect your company from cybercriminals. Anything that goes through the web or shows on a screen is a potential vulnerability, which means you need to start thinking differently about how to safeguard your business.
1. Stay up to date
You’ve heard this before. A lot. But always make sure your software’s up to date – and this doesn’t just stop at anti-virus. Not doing so is the lo-tech equivalent of leaving the back door open for hackers, who can sniff out such opportunities in a split second. If you’re forgetful, consider automatic patching.
2. Get the board on board
Do not, repeat, do not farm this out to the IT department. It may seem like just a tech issue, but security has to be a business issue if you want to take it seriously.
There should be someone at board level with responsibility for it, so you – and everyone else in the firm - know at all times what your policies are and why.
3. Remember – it’s about people
Cybercrime can seem intensely impersonal. You don’t see the hacker, after all. But that doesn’t mean they don’t see you. Data breaches often occur because of carelessness from your own staff. Keep control of who has access to sensitive information and make sure they are trained to the hilt.
4. Watch your back
Not all hacking is conducted over the ether. Often the path of least resistance between your sensitive data and the outside world is via plain old plain sight. Research conducted by the Ponemon Institute for 3M found that visual hacking – looking at what’s on someone’s screen - is surprisingly easy, especially now we’re running businesses from our mobiles and tablets.
Consider using privacy filters to reduce the chances of top secret info being overlooked by spying eyes.
5. Manage expectations
You will not be able to completely protect yourself from cybercriminals, just as you can’t completely protect yourself from lightning strikes, car crashes or bike thieves. You can’t just buy an anti-virus package and forget about it.
Instead, if you think of it as a business risk like any other, take the requisite precautions and make sure you have plans in place in case the worst happens, then you’ll be free to enjoy the many fruits of 21st century technology.
For more information about visual hacking, here's a quick animation - Learn more
For a summary of the key issues around visual privacy, click here.