As cyber attacks are on the rise across the globe, we need to remain vigilant to these pervasive, complex threats to our livelihoods. Increasing globalisation, a complex hybrid cloud environment and the merging of the virtual workplace with the physical has opened up the world of digital business like never before. But not all the opportunities it presents are good ones. And with the impact of a global pandemic taking centre stage, it would be easy to become distracted. It’s a critical time to review all our security protocols.

A clear and present danger
Cyber attacks are a very real concern. It’s true that this new decade begun relatively well, with 61 disclosed cyber security incidents, in comparison to the monthly average of almost 80 cyber attacks in 2019. But still, January saw a number of worrying security breaches involving UK organisations – you can check them out here.

Recently I watched the movie Bourne on catch up – starring Matt Damon as the eponymous hero. An enjoyable, Bond-esque thriller, the data security breaches portrayed – far from being the fanciful, no-holds barred meanderings of a techno-nerd screen writer – actually mirror to a degree the devastating impact and reach of malware, cyber attacks and dark web dealings which our global businesses face today.

Big Data and security – opportunities and threats
The proliferation of Big Data – multiplying at a mind-boggling rate – brings us an unprecedented opportunity to mine, to profile, to respond and to interact with our customers more than we ever thought possible. But at the same time, the sheer volume of accessible data brings with it huge responsibility. The damage to our global brands – if their security is compromised – will be enormous.

When it comes to our own and our customers’ data, global data compliance and regulations have been considerably tightened up. Now businesses must embed data protection at every level or expect significant fines and a loss of reputation from which they may never recover. You need a combination of security controls and a risk management strategy to help you keep your business safe.

Time for a cyber spring-clean?
With technological capabilities – both beneficial and hostile – moving so fast, you can’t be completely sure your organisation is completely protected from the changing waves of cyber-terrorism. So if you’re considering a spot of security spring-cleaning to keep the risk of data breach from becoming a constant headache, its worth reminding ourselves of best practice to stay cyber safe.  

  • Carry out a regular review of your infrastructure and your security plans with your IT department

Cloud has muddied the waters a bit. It’s no longer just a question of shoring up your legacy infrastructure.  Mergers and acquisitions, third party relationships, on-boarded apps and vendor agreements could all damage the security of your organisation. So yes, review your guidelines, examine your internal technology infrastructure, your firewalls and your servers, but also ask your suppliers, vendors and partners the right questions so that they too mitigate their risk and uphold your stringent security plans.

  • Update your corporate policies and procedures to reflect today’s market concerns and security developments

Do this on a regular basis to keep your business agile and compliant in the face of market changes and cyber attacks. And ensure that your staff knows what needs to be done – both on a daily basis and in the face of a cyber threat – to keep data security breaches at bay.

  • Establish a robust password protection policy for all your secure data, documents and information

Be sure your workforce knows what makes for a strong password and have a regular, automated password update. It’s a good idea to ask your staff to treat their passwords the same way they protect their own personal passwords, bank details and pins. Ergo – no writing down of passwords or sharing security details with others unless absolutely necessary…

  • Give your workforce a hotline to report any security concerns

It’s a sad fact that a lot of security threats come from the inside. It’s a good idea to give your people a confidential channel to communicate if they feel intimidated, under pressure, or simply feel that something’s wrong. You’ll protect your staff and your business, and empower your people at the same time.

Obvious? Maybe. But the obvious can be easy to overlook. Established practice? Unbelievably, not always.  If you follow these simple rules for securing your data, and your brand, you’ll keep your business safe.  And if your defences are ever breached, you’ll have embedded procedures so all your security experts can focus on fire-fighting until the threat’s over.

Secure contract management
To take the headache out of at least one aspect of your security concerns, we offer contract management software with inbuilt security and permissions. Contract Insight gives you security at individual document level, with whatever level of access you think is appropriate for your company.

We know that the threat of cyber attacks might make you nervous about potential cloud vulnerabilities. We can host your contract management software wherever you want us to – either in the cloud (using our cloud deployment team) or on your local network. And if you then decide you want to reverse your current data storage options from cloud to local, or local to cloud we can easily change things. For your peace of mind, our cloud solution fully complies with ISO 27001.

Used by many Fortune 500 companies, Contract Insight gives you real time visibility into your contracts. It doesn’t just shore up your security; it will help you meet contract compliance regulations, centralise your contract management and improve your overall contract administration process.

In these troubled times, consider if you owe it to yourself and to your business to review the security on every service, every product, every supplier, every application, and every cloud-based source that comprises part of your business estate?

For more information, contact John O’Brien, CEO at Four Business Solutions, global business consultants and software integrators providing business processes improvements in Finance, Supply Chain & Operations, across a broad range of industries.