As a new year begins, we all tend to get excited about possibilities. We may have established goals personally for the upcoming year, and have also made detailed plans for our businesses to thrive.
But an essential part of the reflective period is looking at the potential for harm, not only the potential for growth.
Security threats, both online and in person, can do enormous damage to your business. Data breaches and other criminal activity can quickly negate any positive growth that you hope to achieve this year. That’s why you should incorporate well-informed security efforts into your new year plans.
New digital tools and tech continue to come online, and local regulators and law enforcement struggle to keep up with all of it. Understanding a little more about how the landscape could change can give you insights on where to focus your energies.
As we move into 2019, here are a few areas that may significantly affect the realm of business security.
Blockchain Apps Will Continue to Attract Attention
Blockchain technology is exciting, and companies are increasingly exploring applications and uses for the tech for their own companies.
Because the technology enables transactions to be verified securely and independently, it’s being considered by all kinds of companies that can benefit from an extra dose of transparency and accountability.
Companies are using third party blockchain applications and even developing their own internal programs to do things like keep better track of inventory, track products as they make their way through the supply chain, verify the authenticity of products, and tracking customer activities, and more.
The problem is that although blockchain applications are sought after thanks to their reputation for being super-secure and invulnerable to foul play, criminals can still find ways to exploit these applications.
As this CIO article explains, potential vulnerabilities of blockchain applications may include “weak encryption, hashing and key management; poorly written programs; incorrect permissions; and inadequate business rules.”
These kinds of breaches can totally destroy the sense of trust and security that these apps were built to establish, and waste a lot of the efforts that were made in developing the programs to begin with.
If you’re considering using or developing a blockchain app for your business, take special precautions against all of these security threats mentioned. Partner with trusted experts who understand potential security threats, train employees on how to watch out for any suspicious activity within the apps, and put a process in place to regularly audit security efforts.
Our Increased Reliance on the Internet May Lead to Vulnerabilities
For most companies these days, internet outages bring operations to a standstill.
Many business-critical software programs depend on a working internet connection to function properly, and internal and external communications depend on it. The internet is only becoming more important as Manufacturing 4.0 and the Internet of Things cause our infrastructure and hardware to rely on the internet, too.
Despite how important the internet has become to most businesses, few have plans in place to keep operations running during potential outages.
There are plenty of “ordinary” causes for the occasional internet outage, such as failures of local or even regional equipment. These outages can cause plenty of lost revenue on their own, especially in industries where time is of the essence.
However, as dependence on the internet increases, the internet arguably becomes a bigger target for intentional damage. It’s not unheard of for vandals or criminals to purposely cut wires, for example. Similarly, the power grid has been identified as a potential target for terrorists and political operatives, and a loss of power can also affect internet and critical operations.
Savvy business leaders will have a plan in place to keep operations running even during internet outages.
Remember that planning to take your staff up to the nearest WiFi-connected coffee shop doesn’t count as a plan. Internet outages often affect entire neighborhoods and regions.
Work with local internet providers to understand their contingency plans and make sure that they align with your own. Have another communication method ready for employees to communicate with each other and important outside partners in case of an extended internet outage.
Privacy Regulations May Limit Employee Monitoring
Employee monitoring software and technology continues to advance. Businesses continue to have good reason to be interested in tools that give them better insights into how their employees work and perform.
In fact, this CBS News article cited a survey in which 57 percent of businesses expected to monitor employee data such as “movement, texts in internal messaging systems, workspace usage and biometric monitoring.”
Monitoring employee behavior has many potential benefits. (We mentioned a few of them in our article on how the Internet of Things will affect the office.)
Business leaders can potentially use the data they collect to analyze productivity, and improve safety, streamline operations, and make better use of space, among other things.
However, one of the biggest potential wins when it come to monitoring employees is technology’s potential to prevent data breaches and other bad behavior by employees.
Employees have good reason to worry about threats from the inside.
According to InfoSecurity Magazine, “Among companies experiencing data breaches (and that is to say, a majority), internal actors were responsible for 43% of data loss, half of which was intentional, and half accidental.”
That’s why companies have started to use tools that can monitor employee behavior and alert managers to any potential threats or red flags. These programs do things like log keystrokes, monitor network traffic, and process language to uncover patterns that indicate potential problems.
However, using any tool to monitor employees is likely to come under the scrutiny of a growing number of privacy laws and regulations in the coming year. As this Harvard Business Review article explains, state and federal laws may regulate things like “employee monitoring, computer crime, wiretapping, and potentially data breach statutes.” The GDPR in Europe continues to make companies work harder about prioritizing individuals’ privacy, and that applies to employee monitoring. The law stipulates that employees must always be informed of the monitoring and its purpose. (For more on the GDPR, head over to our full blog post on how it affects the way your company checks visitors in.)
Many of these laws require employers to let their employees know exactly how they are being monitored. This type of transparency can be good for morale and relationships. However, it can also give employees a clear idea of how to circumvent security controls if they want to.If you’re going to monitor employees at all, you must make sure to stay in compliance with local privacy laws. Click To Tweet
If you do plan to increase your internal security efforts this year by monitoring employees, consult with your attorney about any possible legal risks. Carefully create a plan to communicate the monitoring to managers and to employees so that it can be as effective as possible.
Finally, if you’re looking for a simple way to get more secure in 2019, it’s a great time to get started with a top-of-the-line visitor check-in system. Our tablet-based app helps your staff get a clear handle of who is in the office at all times. Photo badges are printed seamlessly as part of the check-in process, so you’ll always know who has been checked in and that their badges belong to them.
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