Top 3 Lessons the Election Can Teach Us About IT Security

Cybersecurity has been a major issue in the presidential election. Here are 3 key takeaways.

IT security is one issue that’s popped up repeatedly during the 2016 election cycle, and it’s not going away after all the ballots are cast.

From investigations of private servers, questions about mysterious mail servers communicating with a Russian bank, and thousands of leaked emails, it’s clear that “the security aspect of cyber” is indeed very, very tough.

And that’s before we’ve even touched on threats to the voting system.

Election day will come and go, but security concerns are with us for the long haul. No matter what your politics are, this election has shed light on threats and vulnerabilities that affect organizations around the world. Let’s examine three points worth remembering:

1. Every organization must assume they’re a target.

IT security requires time, resources, and attention—none of which are unlimited. The temptation to minimize your security investment and funnel resources toward other projects is very real. This is especially true when your systems or your data appear to lack any value outside your organization.

But the question isn’t, “How valuable is this data to someone else?” You need to consider the value of the data to your own organization. If it were corrupted or deleted, would you still be able to operate? What if your biggest competitor knew who you were corresponding with and had access to all your messages?

The 2016 election has shown us the chaos that ensues when private emails are exposed. A change of mindset is in order—from wondering if unauthorized persons will try to breach the system to assuming they are already trying.

2. Recovering from a data breach is a long and costly process.

Perhaps a hacker has unleashed all your files on the internet. Or maybe your customers’ PII (personally identifiable information) has started showing up on the black market months after a breach was discovered. Either way, the process of determining who is responsible, how they did it, and the extent of the damage could take months . . . or longer.

If customer or patient data was exposed, you’re looking at breach notifications, bad press, and the possibility of lawsuits that could drag on for years. And even if customers or patients were not affected, exposing information that’s embarrassing or gives you competitive advantage also hurts your organization.

This is the reason businesses are realizing the advantages of data encryption. If a threat actor does gain access to your information, the encrypted data will be meaningless.

3. IT security is a concern even for organizations without a compliance mandate.

More organizations are covered by a compliance mandate, thanks to the expanding scope of HIPAA and the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). But security is important for its own sake, not just to avoid fines and penalties.

If your organization would suffer if all your files were shared with your customers, your competitors, and millions of strangers on the internet, it’s time to start evaluating your security risks. If your business would grind to a halt if all your files were corrupted by malware, consider server-level malware protection.

Thanks to the election, millions of people outside the IT world are considering the ramifications of security vulnerabilities, and this issue won’t disappear after the votes are counted.

Take this opportunity to examine your own security posture and how the risks to your system could be minimized.


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