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The dangerous world of IT security: beware of internal threats.

The Dangerous World of IT Security: Beware of Internal Threats

When it comes to cybersecurity, most people automatically think of the evil doings of the hackers, hunters and Trojan horses: all coming from outside the company, trying to break in.

But it turns out the biggest threats can come from within the organization. Your employees, vendors and even your management team can compromise your defenses – often with just one click of a mouse.  

From management to employees and even trusted vendors, everyone plays a crucial part in safeguarding sensitive information. Let's delve into various scenarios where seemingly innocuous actions can lead to significant cybersecurity threats.

Scenario 1: The Manager's Dilemma 

Picture this: Your manager, the epitome of professionalism, confidently strides into the office. However, beneath the polished exterior, there may be unsuspected cybersecurity vulnerabilities. In a moment of curiosity or distraction, a well-intentioned click on a dubious link can inadvertently unleash malware into the company's system. Even the most seasoned manager may find themselves inadvertently compromising the organization's cybersecurity posture.

Scenario 2: The Employee's Unintended Consequences

Now, consider the well-performing employee who may excel in their tasks but falls short on the security front. A seemingly harmless click on an email attachment, appearing deceptively legitimate, could result in a ransomware attack, holding critical data hostage. Despite their competence in their role, an employee's lack of cybersecurity awareness can inadvertently expose the organization to substantial risks.

Scenario 3: Vendors as a Security Threat

Trusted vendors, essential contributors to a company's operations, can also pose security risks. In an unforeseen turn of events, a vendor may succumb to the temptation of unauthorized access to confidential files. This breach of trust can have far-reaching consequences, emphasizing the importance of scrutinizing not only internal but external elements for potential security threats. This is doubly true of your IT solutions provider who will have access to your entire business network and all files and data.  That means their internal security posture needs to be as good or significantly better than yours.

Scenario 4: New Hire Gets Scammed

A new executive, we will call him Ryan, was hired for a COO role at a big steel manufacturer in the Midwest. The CEO is not on LinkedIn, but the day Ryan was hired and changed his LinkedIn profile, spam messages on LinkedIn came from what appeared to be his CEO’s profile. The messages were not from the CEO. They asked for important documents about the company. The company is publicly traded and has compliance about sharing documents. Ryan thought it was strange the CEO would ask for documents that he can access himself on the company network. So, Ryan called the CEO and HR about the messages and the scam was detected. 

The point here is to be watchful of outside the organization messages that appear legitimate.

The Solution: It's All About Awareness

So, what can you do to dodge these dangerous security bullets? Here are a few friendly tips:

Cybersecurity Training: Get everyone on board for cybersecurity training. Make it fun! Use quizzes and games to teach employees to spot phishing emails and keep your data secure. 

Access Control: Limit who has access to sensitive data. If your vendor doesn't need it, don't let them have it. Simple as that!

Backup, Backup, Backup: Regularly back up your data. This way, even if a ransomware attack hits, you can laugh in the face of the cybercriminals, restore your data, and say, "Nice try, guys!"

Security Policies: Create clear security policies and guidelines. Make sure everyone knows the rules of the game and what's expected of them. Remember, to tell employees where they should store this important information. 

Current security policies should be posted on a company intranet/portal, or sent regularly by HR to ensure all employees understand what should and should not be shared and how to protect the company.

Security Software: Invest in robust security software. It's like having a superhero shield for your digital world.

Password Management: Tools like BitWarden or 1Password are critical to ensure you never duplicate passwords across tools and free you from the other major security error—writing passwords on paper. 

The Final Act: Let's Keep IT Entertaining

In the world of IT security, it's not about pointing fingers or scaring everyone with doomsday scenarios. It's about staying informed, having fun while learning, and keeping your digital fortress safe.

Remember, the biggest security threats often come from within, but with a little humor and a lot of awareness, you can turn your team into cybersecurity superheroes. Keep the bad guys at bay, and save the day, one click at a time!

So, stay vigilant, keep your manager away from suspicious emails, educate your employees to be cybersecurity savvy, and keep an eye on those tricky vendors. Together, we can make the IT security world a whole lot safer – and more fun.