If your organization falls under any of the types of government compliance, it’s crucial that employees follow the proper protocol to be compliant with IT security policies. Executives designate the process of ensuring that compliance standards are followed to IT leaders generally. The IT department determines where there are compliance gaps and applies the necessary measures and policies. However, for these measures to work efficiently, everyone in the organization must follow them. Unfortunately, employee non-compliance with policies can happen and when it does, security breaches are possible.
Here are the top five causes of breaches due to non-compliance:
- Employee exits: Employees often have access to sensitive information within an organization. When an employee leaves an organization, either voluntarily or otherwise, damage to confidential information can occur. Therefore, even when a trusted employee leaves, the same protocol must be followed – immediate removal of access to all areas of data, including networks, email, and company intranet. Though it may sound extreme, it’s better to be safe than sorry when critical information is at stake.
- Unintentional misuse of company data: While everyone wants to be helpful to both current clients and potential ones, sometimes that eagerness can have negative consequences. For example, providing confidential information to potential clients, vendors, or simply answering general inquiries can mean that sensitive data could be exposed. To ensure that sensitive data remains private, each department should regularly review security policies with its staff and encourage employees to ask when unsure.
- External attacks: Virus infiltration, spam, and other external attacks can easily threaten any area of a business and affect business continuity or access to data. Keeping a checklist of the tasks that need to be done to prevent against attacks, and also actions to take in the case of a successful attack, can help prevent or minimize intrusions.
- Insecure networks: Hackers seem to enjoy finding loopholes in networks and exploiting them in order to hinder a company's ability to function. In addition to attempting to prevent external attacks, an organization should constantly monitor its networks. Using server monitoring, an organization can understand the most likely areas for a breach to occur and proactively take measures to prevent one from happening.
- Phishing (Social Engineering): Brute force hacking isn’t the only way that hackers can access to networks. A special type of attack, called phishing, occurs when hackers send legitimate looking "emails" from someone in the network to employees, hoping that they will open them. This form of social engineering can allow access to a business's entire network through one click of an employee. By implementing specific email format standards, applying backend rules, and using virus scans, the number of phishing attacks that make it to the email stage can be dramatically reduced.
IT policies are only as good as the employees who follow them. Not following security policies can result in a severe loss of productivity, damage to an organization’s brand and reputation, and possible financial and legal repercussions. Aside from this accountability, implementing strong and customized solutions is paramount to the successful compliance and security of a business.
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