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IT Risks That Threaten Your Business | Arvig Whitepapers Skip to main content

By May 29, 2018April 24th, 2024Whitepapers9 min read
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IT Risks That Threaten Your Business

YOUR BUSINESS DEPENDS ON INFORMATION. BUT CAN YOU COUNT ON YOUR TECHNOLOGY?

You may not be in the information technology business, but it’s probably impossible to imagine your business without IT. Today, computing technology plays a vital role in the way you serve, work with and communicate to your customers and clients. Thanks to advances that have made technology more powerful yet less expensive, even the smallest business can enjoy high-tech capabilities—in everything from marketing and sales to delivery and fulfillment—that were once the sole domain of large enterprises.

However, today’s big IT advantages come with major risks. Your networks and systems serve as your silent partner in operations. Should they fail—and when they do, it’s usually without warning—you’re exposed to not only an IT problem, but also to a potentially large business problem.

Are your data and applications password protected; and are your employees using sufficiently strong passwords to ensure security?

This brief paper exposes 10 silent threats that might be quietly undermining your practice now.

RISK #10: Wrong keys in wrong hands
It’s just common sense: you restrict crucial information, such as bank accounts and inventory access, to carefully designated employees. Yet many businesses have lost control of their network’s user-level-access privileges, exposing vital company and client data to people without authorization. One of the first steps toward security is to be sure the right people have the right level of access to appropriate applications and data.

RISK #9: Bring your own headache
On the one hand, new devices such as smartphones and tablets can increase employee productivity; and when employees use their own devices, it can save the company money. But this new “bring your own device” (BYOD) environment brings new headaches, too. These devices are easily lost and stolen. When they are, any information available to the device—including confidential business and client data—may be vulnerable to illicit access. Yet fewer than 50% of businesses report the ability to use data encryption and/or remote data wiping to protect their assets. Take stock of your data inventory and review permissions reports that reveal which devices and users have access to which files and applications.

RISK #8: Who’s knocking at your backdoor?
Your business isn’t limited to your own systems. Thanks to access to outside servers and systems, you can leverage potent tools like Gmail and Dropbox to communicate with customers, share files and more. While these cloud services increase your capabilities without busting your IT budget, it’s important to remember that every connection that reaches out from your network may open an opportunity for someone else to reach in. Protect your portals: run an external vulnerability scan that reveals every “backdoor” through which an intruder might break into your network

RISK #7: “Wet paper bag” passwords
Your password protections are only as strong as the passwords themselves. Having no passwords—or using obvious passwords such as “12345”—undermines the very protection you seek. Yet employees often fail to establish passwords or, when they do, frequently use ineffective ones. Review your passwords’ strength to identify weak spots that allow any unauthorized user to punch through and gain access to your information.

RISK #6: Whoa, back up
If you lost a significant chunk of your data right now, how much business would you lose as well? Too many businesses run without sufficient policies, plans and procedures for backing up critical data essential to their ability to operate. If your business depends on manual procedures that are executed inconsistently, you’re exposed to unnecessary losses; and it’s time to look for automated backup solutions that are always at work—even when employees may forget.

RISK #5: Show me the compliance
Sensitive data demands special attention. In many industries, the law requires you to preserve client confidentiality, and demonstrate that you have processes in place to ensure compliance. The best way to prepare for a regulatory audit is to run regular compliance audits of your own that allow you to take corrective actions before your operation is called into account.

RISK #4: Printing (lost) money
Despite high hopes for the paperless office, the reality is that businesses spend a lot of money printing, faxing, copying and scanning paper documents. These costs add up too: paper plus toner plus maintenance plus employee time, etc. It’s possible to bring these printing costs under control, but the first step is to discover who prints what, how often and why. By monitoring your multi-function printers, you can limit access to authorized users, discourage unnecessary or wasteful usage, and encourage less expensive options—such as scan to email or scan to file directories—that save time and money.

RISK #3: “Ghosts” in the machines
There may be “ghosts” haunting your networks, inactive users or inactive computers that remain part of your system, even if they are no longer contributing to your productivity. While the threat may not be immediately obvious, defunct computers represent an expense you don’t need to carry. Worse, inactive users may reflect open accounts (perhaps of people who are no longer employed by your business) that could present security holes for unauthorized access. Run audits that show you what’s active or not, then clean house, and close security loopholes by removing the inactive devices and accounts.

RISK #2: When IT can’t keep up, your practice goes down
Smart businesses and wise managers protect their critical networks with redundancy: backup servers and routers that are designed to kick in should the main system go down. But the contingency plan is only as good as the processes and practices behind them; should these be inoperative, your business will not maintain continuity in an emergency. To safeguard your business, analyze your network before disaster strikes to be sure that your contingency technologies—such as your backup-designated router or alternate domain control—are online and ready for action.

RISK #1: Hiding in the dark
You want to run your businesses, not an IT department. While IT may not be top of mind, it should never be out of sight. Lack of vision into the true status of your technology, and the quality of your defenses against attack or failure, may leave your business vulnerable to disruption, legal consequences and loss of revenue. However, implementing regular monitoring and reviewing procedures, you can anticipate challenges before they become problems, and take adequate measures to ensure smooth business operations.

Consider the Massachusetts model
Effective March 1, 2010, Massachusetts law M.G.L. c. 93h imposed the most comprehensive confidentiality requirements to date for the safeguarding of personal information such as Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers and other means of individual identification. Among the requirements are these: encryption of all transmitted records and files containing personal information that will travel across public networks; and encryption of all data containing personal information to be transmitted wirelessly; and encryption of all personal information stored on laptops or other portable devices.

To ensure compliance, businesses must consider implementing practices that can:

  • Enforce strong password policies on all computing devices
  • Automate backup and restore functions for all systems
  • Restrict data, devices and applications to authorized individuals
  • Deploy remote lock-and-wipe capabilities for all lost and/or stolen devices

Do you use automated backup programs for data protection, rather than random and irregular manual backups?

Are you sure your IT is a sure thing?
We all depend on IT. Given the stakes, it’s important our confidence is well placed. Are you sure the technology you rely upon is adequately protected? In our experience, nine out of ten companies have undetected vulnerabilities that could lead to data disaster.

Take a moment to complete this quick self-analysis:

  1. Have you assigned appropriate access levels and authority to restrict data and applications to the right people?
  2. Can you create and review permission reports that tell you which devices and personnel have access to which data and applications?
  3. Are the connections you use to access online services protected against backdoor invasions by unauthorized intruders?
  4. Are your data and applications password protected; and are your employees using sufficiently strong passwords to ensure security?
  5. Do you use automated backup programs for data protection, rather than random and irregular manual backups?
  6. If industry regulators arrived at your door, are you confident you comply with legal and regulatory mandates for your data?
  7. Can you monitor and control printing, faxing, scanning and copying to decrease costs?
  8. Is your system cleared of ghost users and inactive computers that waste resources and expose your network to unauthorized access?
  9. Can you verify that your data recovery and network restoration plans are operative and ready to work in an emergency?
  10. Do you have timely and actionable visibility into your IT status, so you can intercept problems before they interrupt your practice?

If you cannot answer yes to all of these questions, consider a network assessment to give yourself—and your business—the confidence you deserve. A network assessment will give you insight into the true status of your IT system, and point the way to appropriate corrective actions you can make to secure your business effectively and efficiently.