Think back in time to the office of 2007, when the only devices connected to your company’s IT network were likely to have been office computers and perhaps a few USB flash drives.
Some ten years on, and a huge increase in WiFi enabled devices and the “Internet of Things” (IoT), the picture has completely changed. These days it’s not uncommon for staff to connect their smartphones to the company WiFi or perhaps bring in their own laptop or tablet if a company has a BYOD (bring your own device) policy.
Most hardware in an office, for example printers and TVs, is WiFi and/or Bluetooth enabled too. A recent report by Forbes estimated that by 2025 there will be more than 80bn active smart devices connected to the internet worldwide meaning the connected world is only set to grow.
While the connectivity of IoT can be convenient and time-saving, it also has a more sinister side. Such devices provide cybercriminals with an avenue of attack, access and compromise. This can present a problem for many businesses as it can be difficult to keep track with who is using what device.
The real danger is that unsecured devices can act as bridges for cybercriminals, meaning they can easily cross into the territory of a business’s sensitive data. Such attacks can cause serious consequences with both financial and reputational repercussions and, in some cases, can potentially cripple a company for days, weeks or even months.
What’s the solution?
Whilst ridding your workplace of WiFi enabled devices is clearly unrealistic, the good news is your network can be re-engineered to ensure devices are ring-fenced and secured. Protocol should be clearly outlined and followed by all employees, emphasising for example the importance of keeping sensitive information off portable devices.
Regular staff training is vital to keep your network safe. Remember, the majority of cyberattacks over 90 per cent are the result of human error. And, of course, consulting the expertise of a specialist cyber security consultant is always highly recommended.
Sadly, there’s no business or organisation in the world that can claim to be 100 per cent protected against ransomware and other malicious software. But with a regularly updated security policy, supported by appropriate backup, data recovery and ongoing staff training, it’s possible to mitigate against such attacks, keeping downtime to a minimum and, most crucially, keeping your data secure.
Daren Oliver is managing director of Fitzrovia IT, a London-based consultancy that provides cutting-edge IT solutions from across the globe