The Werks is an IT related commentary bringing you the unvarnished truth steeped in a vat of reality. The information contained herein is the opinion and rantings of a 30+ year veteran of the IT industry. This will hopefully give you helpful knowledge untainted by any specific vendor focused kool-aide. Occasionally, you may find that this collection of brain droppings will also give you the laugh you needed to make it through another day locked in the IT gulag. Read-on, brave soldier!
Smaller firms often struggle just to keep up with maintaining a website. Worrying about a scaled down version for mobile users seems like just too much trouble. Today's blog is all about why this matters to you and why should you bother with a mobile version.
A bit of background: Mobile sites are versions of your website that can be easily read and used on a small mobile screen. What is readable on a laptop of desktop monitor can be too tiny to use on a small screen. Also, the buttons and fields on your forms become impossible to use.
Why does this matter? Three reasons
Showing up in search rankings. If you want to be found in a search and appear high in the ranking, you need to have a "mobile optimized" site. Google has now included the failure to have a mobile optimized site as a specific reason to lower a website in its search rankings. If you don't have a mobile optimized site, you slip lower in the ranking. Slip lower in the rankings and fewer people ever find you in a search.
More search and web activity now occurs on mobile devices than standard PC and laptops. If you want attention, you need to be "mobile ready." You can't just write off those mobile users- there are too many of them.
If your site is too difficult to use on a phone screen, the user is just going to jump to another vendor. There’s nothing else to say.
So the summary is, if you haven't already done so, you need to bite the bullet and get a mobile optimized site. The internet offers too much business to just ignore the issue.
You can have all the locks on your data center and have all the network security available, but nothing will keep your data safe if your employees are sloppy with passwords.
There are many ways data can be breached, and opening some link they shouldn't is one of the most serious security sins employees can commit, but today we’ll just talk about passwords.
Here are some basic practices that you should require your employees to follow. These are basic tips. System administrators should implement other policies, such as those that forbid using passwords previously used and locking accounts after a few failed attempts to login. But just for you as a manager, here are a few tips.
Change Passwords - Most security experts recommend that companies change out all passwords every 30 to 90 days.
Password Requirements - Should include a of mix upper and lowercase, number, and a symbol.
Teach employees NOT to use standard dictionary words (any language), or personal data that can be known, or could be stolen: addresses, tel numbers, SSN, etc.
Emphasize that employees should not access anything using another employee's login. To save time or for convenience, employees may leave systems open and let others access them. This is usually done so one person doesn't take the time to logout and the next has to log back in. Make a policy regarding this and enforce it.
These are just a few basic password tips, but they can make a big difference in keeping your business's sensitive data safe.
Losing an employee is not usually a good experience. If they leave voluntarily, you lose a valuable asset. If they have to be fired, you have the arduous task of the progressive discipline process and the final termination meeting. But there are other concerns that arise when an employee leaves. Those concerns are security and their access to company data.
Here are some considerations regarding passwords and voluntary termination (A.K.A. resigned) or involuntary termination (A.K.A. fired.) It is important you have a process in place so that whenever a termination occurs, nothing slips through the cracks regarding corporate data security.
When you dismiss an employee, you should immediately change out all passwords for anything the employee had access to. Because almost all terminations should be planned, you should also define the process for canceling access. It is unwise to cancel prior to the termination meeting. If you do that, you create the potential for a confrontation when they arrive at work and find their passwords have been disabled. Instead, plan ahead and assign someone to disable their passwords during the time you are having the termination meeting. Before the meeting, be sure you have a list of all access cards, keys, etc. prepared so they can be cancelled before the employee leaves the building.
Voluntary terminations - Different firms have different policies handling resignations. Depending on the specific position, an employee will be permitted to continue working during their 2 week notice period. In that case, you need to consider if there is any possibility the employee might get up to no good during the final days. That is something only you can judge.
In some cases, firms will ask an employee to leave the facility immediately. In that case, you need to have a plan in place. You need to have a list available of all of the restricted systems to which they have access for when this situation arises. The employee should not leave the building until all of their access has been canceled.
This all may seem a bit harsh, but things have changed. 30 years ago, for a disgruntled employee to steal files, they'd be carrying out large boxes of file folders. Now, not only can they empty the building onto a thumb drive, they can take nefarious action that wasn't possible when data was stored on paper.
In our last blog we started talking about the different layers of security necessary to fully defend your data and business integrity. Today we will look at the human aspect of it, and network defenses. The human layer refers to the activities that your employees perform. 95% of security incidences involve human error. Ashley Schwartau of The Security Awareness Company says the two biggest mistakes a company can make are "assuming their employees know internal security policies: and "assuming their employees care enough to follow policy".
Here are some ways Hackers exploit human foibles:
Guessing or brute-force solving passwords
Tricking employees to open compromised emails or visit compromised websites
Tricking employees to divulge sensitive information
For the human layer, you need to:
Enforce mandatory password changes every 30 to 60 days, or after you lose an employee
Train your employees on best practices every 6 months
Provide incentives for security conscious behavior.
Distribute sensitive information on a need to know basis
Require two or more individuals to sign off on any transfers of funds,
Watch for suspicious behavior
The network layer refers to software attacks delivered online. This is by far the most common vector for attacks, affecting 61% of businesses last year. There are many types of malware: some will spy on you, some will siphon off funds, some will lock away your files.
However, they are all transmitted in the same way:
Spam emails or compromised sites
"Drive by" downloads, etc.
To protect against malware
Don't use business devices on an unsecured network.
Don't allow foreign devices to access your wifi network.
Use firewalls to protect your network
Make your sure your WiFi network is encrypted.
Use antivirus software and keep it updated. Although it is not the be all, end all of security, it will protect you from the most common viruses and help you to notice irregularities
Use programs that detect suspicious software behavior
The mobile layer refers to the mobile devices used by you and your employees. Security consciousness for mobile devices often lags behind consciousness about security on otherplatforms, which is why there 11.6 million infected devices at any given moment.
There are several common vectors for compromising mobile devices
To protect your mobile devices you can:
Use secure passwords
Use reputable security apps
Enable remote wipe options.
Just as each line of defense would have been useless without an HQ to move forces to where they were needed most, IT defense-in-depth policy needs to have a single person, able to monitor each layer for suspicious activity and respond accordingly.