Cut me some Slack: bad data practices threaten modern businesses
Remote working has heralded many productivity benefits for office workers across the country and those benefits are likely to remain, with advice from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy on how to make working flexible. the default.
But remote working also presented some drawbacks for businesses navigating these new waters. As the personal and professional worlds collide, many organizations may find that their data is at risk of being shared over unsecured networks and over unofficial communication channels. And no organization is immune from this danger. A former national security official recently spoke candidly about UK top ministers failing to follow politics and opening up government data sensitive to cyberattacks. It comes two years after suspected Russian cybercriminals stole the entire message cache from a former cabinet minister’s email account.
Communication weaknesses, at all levels of seniority, are a real cause for concern, especially when it comes to valuable information. According to Veritas research, the rush for digital transformation in response to the changes brought by COVID has left many organizations dangerously exposed to data threats, such as ransomware. In fact, UK businesses estimate it will take an average of Â£ 1.88million, 22 new IT staff each, and two more years to fix the vulnerabilities they suffer from.
Data management and the great experience of teleworking
Over the past 18 months, the rapid shift to remote working has allowed office workers to become even more familiar with instant messaging services such as Zoom, Teams and Slack. Veritas research has found that the time employees spend on these types of business collaboration tools has increased by 20% since the start of the pandemic. So it’s no surprise that a whopping 71% of office workers admit to sharing sensitive and critical business data using these tools.
While instant messaging and collaboration technologies have played a vital role in maintaining a semblance of “business as usual” during the height of a global crisis, if the data shared through these applications is not properly protected, companies will be seriously threatened by this data. be lost, disclosed or fall into the wrong hands.
Breaking data protection regulations such as GDPR can be very costly, as Amazon recently discovered. But losing control of data also exposes businesses to the threat of ransomware attacks if businesses have no way of knowing what data has been shared through these tools, let alone recovering it. As instant messaging and collaboration tools begin to be treated by employees as an accepted form of business communication, companies need to ensure that they back up and protect data shared through these platforms.
The question is: how do you get out of it and protect yourself from any fallout?
Empower employees with tools and training
In order to regain control of their data, organizations must start by standardizing on a set of collaboration and messaging tools that meet business needs. Many companies have relied on
remote working to survive the pandemic, and for the most part, working from home is expected to continue to some extent. So the benefits of these tools, if managed properly, are vast. But selecting a few of these tools that employees can use for business purposes can help organizations contain data and limit sprawl.
Once a standard set of tools has been established, it is imperative that companies create an information sharing policy to help control the sharing of sensitive information.
Training employees on the corporate policies and tools that are deployed can help employees understand the significant risks and implications associated with data misuse. Training should include regular reminders on what information should and should not be shared, and which communication channels are accepted for business purposes.
Our research found that sensitive data shared by employees on collaboration and instant messaging tools includes customer information (16%), details about HR issues (13%), contracts (13%) , business plans (12%) and even COVID-. 19 test results (13%), with less than a third of employees suggesting they hadn’t shared anything that could be compromising. 7% of employees also admitted to sharing corporate passwords on instant messaging platforms. In the wrong hands, this type of information can be used by hackers to lock a business out of its systems.
Companies also need to keep their employees up to date with the latest data protection regulations. Making data protection the responsibility of all individuals within an organization can help reduce accidental policy violations.
And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, companies need to ensure that data sets for collaboration and messaging tools are integrated into their data management strategy using eDiscovery solutions. and SaaS data backup. This will allow employees to get the most out of the tools without putting the company at risk of falling into the trap of regulators or falling victim to ransomware.
Straighten the balance
The foundation of a strong data protection strategy is a thorough understanding of the value and location of the data that needs to be protected. The rapid shift to remote work means more and more employees are relying on cloud-based collaboration platforms. But before cloud datasets can be properly protected against threats like ransomware, IT teams need to know exactly what data has been sent to which cloud services. Today, nearly half don’t even know how many cloud services their businesses are using, let alone what they are, or if they are backed up and can be recovered on a large scale in the event of an attack.
Everyone has been strained by the challenges of COVID, and companies have been right to prioritize the immediate challenges of quickly adapting their business offerings and fostering the shift to remote working, as they were essential to their survival. Now, however, is the time to act and re-strike the balance between introducing new solutions into their tech stack and ensuring that they have the protective capabilities to cover them.
About the Author
Ian Wood is UK&I Technology Manager, Veritas Technologies. Veritas Technologies is a global leader in data protection, availability and information. More than 80,000 customers, 87% of the Fortune Global 500, rely on us to abstract IT complexity and simplify data management. The Veritas Enterprise Data Services platform automates protection and orchestrates data recovery wherever it resides, ensures 24/7 availability of mission-critical applications, and provides businesses with the information they need to comply with changes in data regulations.
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