News Feature | August 22, 2014

Security Mistakes Your Customers Might Be Making

By Rick Delgado, contributing writer

Customer Security Mistakes

Securing the enterprise is no easy task. Every day it seems like there are dozens of new security risks out there, threatening to shut down your customers’ systems and steal valuable data. Stories of large corporations suffering from enormous data breaches probably don’t help calm those fears, so it’s important to make sure your clients know the risks are real and businesses must be able to respond to them. Even though enhancing security is crucial, enterprises still make a lot of mistakes while trying to shore up their systems. Here’s a look at some of the most common IT security mistakes to discuss with your customers — and for you to watch out for with a new client.

Overlooking Proactive IT Security

It may sound surprising, but many companies don’t place IT security as one of their top priorities. While in the pursuit of making money, businesses see security as a costly endeavor, one which requires numerous resources, significant investments, and a substantial time commitment. If done right, business would go on as usual, which is why some company leaders don’t consider it high on the to-do list. For obvious reasons, this can be a disastrous approach to take. Too many companies become reactive to threats, dealing with them after they have already occurred. Businesses that take IT security threats seriously need to be much more proactive, learning about the latest risks and taking the necessary steps to prevent them from infecting their systems.

Password Weaknesses

One of the first lines of defense preventing data leaks and theft is the password. Passwords make sure only authorized persons are able to access networks and systems. To make this effective, passwords need to be strong, but too often this is simply not the case. Many companies actually use default passwords for their network appliances, making for some attractive targets for prospective attackers. On the flip side, those that change passwords will often use weak ones that are vulnerable. Employees and managers need to make sure their passwords cannot simply be guessed by unauthorized users.

Lack Of Patching

Security threats are constantly evolving. What was once a major risk several years ago is probably not a major concern today, but that only means other threats have taken its place. The best response companies can have to this evolving landscape is to always patch their IT systems, but this doesn’t happen often enough. One expert from Symantec says at least 75 percent of security breaches could be prevented if all the security software were patched with the latest updates. If equipped with patches, security systems will have a far better chance of detecting new threats and responding effectively.

Lack Of Education

Employee behavior is one of the biggest concerns business leaders have. Even with updated systems and the latest software, security can only be as strong as the weakest link, and many times that weakest link ends up being end users or employees. Where businesses often make a mistake is in their failure to educate their employees about threats. Without the proper education about the current risks that are out there, it should come as no surprise that an employee will likely engage in activity that proves risky to company security. Some employees turn into “promiscuous clickers,” clicking on email attachments or links on suspicious and even trusted websites that can lead to malware infection. Employees need to be educated on the risky behaviors they might have so they can work to avoid them in the future. It also doesn’t hurt to place adequate endpoint security controls like anti-virus software and firewalls that can protect from risky clicking.

The Unprotected Cloud

Many companies are turning to the cloud to take care of many of their storage and computing needs, but that also opens up more possibilities for security problems. Businesses often don’t check on a cloud vendor’s security capabilities and end up paying for it in the end when data gets lost or stolen. Discuss any services your customer is using beyond your offerings — and, as a trusted advisor, point out any vulnerabilities that might exist.

Security needs to be a top priority for businesses, but enhancing IT security often requires avoiding simple mistakes. Though it may require financial and technological resources, companies that make sure their systems are secure can rest easy knowing their data is protected. Some of these mistakes are easy to rectify, and with greater security comes greater confidence — cementing your relationship with your customer.