Top 5 IT security measures companies use to protect data

By Robert Half on 29th September 2015

High-profile data breaches are regularly seen in the news, with everyone from local councils to dating sites hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It's a reminder of how important it is to take the issue of security seriously as a data breach can have significant financial and reputational costs. After all, would you be happy to place your trust in a financial services provider if it had experienced a data breach in the past?

According to a recent survey of CIOs indicated that security threats are on the increase. Companies are investing in IT personnel and dedicating budgets towards improving IT security.

It paints a damning picture and highlights the need for businesses to invest in protecting both corporate and customer data. So what security measures are effective in order to address this ongoing problem?

1. Adding IT personnel

While many business are happy to outsource IT issues to third parties, sometimes there is no substitute to having the expertise you need in-house. Firstly, it makes it easier to train staff about IT security at work and if the wider workforce has any questions or issues, there is always someone on hand to deal with them quickly and effectively.

Another advantage is that in-house specialists have detailed knowledge of a business and its specific needs and requirements, which means they won't take a broad-brush one-size-fits-all approach to improving data security. Whatever solutions they come up with will be designed with the business model and company ethos firmly in mind.

2. Enhancing cloud security

With many businesses eschewing internal servers in favour of storing documents and applications in the cloud, a whole host of new security issues and risks has opened up. It is therefore vital for any organisation planning to switch to the cloud to find out about the hosting company and ensure there systems accurately match requirements, while an independent security audit can also provide a vital reassurance that it is fit for purpose and meets the required standards.

3. Implementing mobile device security

A decade ago, employees would have accessed work-related applications and emails solely at their desk. But now web-enabled smartphones and tablets are ubiquitous and everyone can use their private devices to do their work anytime and anywhere. This puts them out of reach of internal IT staff - so it's necessary for employers to have clear procedures over using privately owned devices to access company data. One sensible precaution businesses are adopting is ensuring anything that can be accessed remotely is password-protected, as well as encrypting hard drives and implementing network security systems such as firewalls.

4. Managing advanced persistent threats (APTs)

APTs can be devastating for a company, as a data thief won't quickly grab and run, but instead enjoy access to a secured network for an extended period of time. The financial services industry is particularly susceptible to APT attacks, due to the nature of the data it holds. Firms in this sector are mindful of this problem and are constantly bringing in expertise to ensure their data is adequately protected to get assistance in implementing techniques, such as vulnerability management systems, password generators or updating security patches. 

5. Reliance on interim specialists

While having in-house experts is preferable, businesses are switching their hiring strategy to including a mixed workforce of permanent and interim specialists. This is due to the nature of their ability to hit the ground running, allowing businesses to upscale their workforce when needed. This appeal of having experts on hand when needed is only expected to increase. Especially with the rise of project based work, companies understand it’s crucial to have the right expertise on hand to implement an ever evolving list of security measures.

The result

Increased demand on an already tightened supply of IT security professionals is showing no sign of slowing down. Businesses are recognising the importance of implementing IT security measures and in order to do so requires specialist skills and experience of their IT department. Companies looking to attract – and retain – talented technology professionals need to offer an attractive salary and benefits package and an innovative environment.

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