3 Poor IT Practices that Endanger Companies

An attack perpetrated by a criminal, a malicious or negligent action taken by an employee… The causes of security incidents can be very diverse. And, according to a recent study by Ponemon Institute, 28% are caused by poor IT practices. In many cases, these failures are due to limited security policies that do not cover all possible risks. By overlooking certain tasks and processes, IT teams are exposing the vulnerabilities of their companies. In this post, we will highlight three key aspects that should be adequately monitored by the security officers of any company.

Neglecting printers is dangerous

This seemingly harmless device can endanger your corporate network. It is worth remembering that printers are also sophisticated storage devices, and that they usually have a longer lifespan than any of our connected devices. According to a study by Spiceworks, only 16% of IT managers believe that printers are vulnerable to security breaches, a figure significantly lower than that corresponding to computers and mobile phones.

Since printers store sensitive document data, it is convenient to delete and review their content periodically. Also, if you stop updating the printers’ firmware, they can become an attack vector (especially if they are connected to the central corporate network). Different types of attacks could allow cybercriminals access to insecure printers, obtaining the documents that have been printed, analyzing network traffic, and even obtaining user information and passwords.

Do you know what applications your employees are using?

Another risk is not knowing what cloud services employees are using. It is important to perform a Shadow IT study and evaluate the dangers implied by applications and services not expressly authorized by security teams. According to an EMC study, annual losses that can be traced back to Shadow IT have reached up to 1.7 trillion dollars. Many organizations are unaware that their employees use services and applications outside of those put at their disposal by the company itself, increasing the blind spots and, therefore, the attack surface of the company.

To stave off malicious behavior, it is essential to monitor corporate network activity and have complete visibility of the software and applications employees are using.  These are crucial characteristics of a security system that is able to act against apps that could endanger the company’s sensitive information or intellectual property. It is very important to educate employees, but also to design policies that can satisfy their needs and prevent them from authorizing services in an insecure way, or by “taking the back door”. Likewise, IT professionals must evaluate each and every service and application, preventing access to those that are dangerous with infrastructural protocols (such as firewalls and proxies).

What if an employee loses their company phone?

The loss of corporate devices, whether mobile phones, computers, tablets, etc., should be extremely disconcerting for any IT professional. In a Tech Pro Research survey, when asked about the company’s weakest link in terms of cybersecurity, 45% answered that the most vulnerable point was mobile devices. To protect against collateral damage from loss or theft, ideally all corporate devices would be encrypted. IT administrators must ensure that contained on them is not compromising, and that these devices can only access corporate information through a VPN. And, in case of loss, administrators should have the ability to block it remotely.

By permitting mobile devices to install applications, even versions authorized by the operating system, you are, figuratively speaking, placing a door where there used to be a wall. It is important to ensure that the IT team has an identifiable base of all mobile systems connected to the corporate network and that, if possible, vulnerability tests and remote control may be performed to analyze penetration levels.

These are just three examples of areas that IT teams must take care to address. Ignoring these good practices can open the door to security incidents that cause considerable economic impact. In a context in which external threats are growing in number and complexity, avoiding risks by implementing basic protocols should be an obligation for every IT professional.

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