The topic of online protection is talked about far and wide. Everyone who is connected is worried to some degree about whether they, their connection and their information are safe from prying eyes. Security measures range from the simplest software to multiple redundant layers of high-level threat assessment and blocking. The most fundamental element, though, is often the human one. And we often overlook it in the mix of technology and threats.
Online protection is not usually built in first
Whenever we create systems, the development process often focuses more on functionality than anything else. Security can usually be an addition at a later stage. By this time, many gaps may already exist, and few security creation processes are thorough enough to cover all such gaps.
It stands to reason, then, to opt for a change in the development process, to bring security further towards the beginning. This can be as simple as imposing security checks more regularly and at earlier points in development. Software development needs to realign its processes. With more initial emphasis on security, it can play a more integral protection role from an earlier stage.
The basics of online protection
The simplest steps are often the ones that lead to the most damage if left incomplete. We may take for granted the basics such as strong perimeter defenses, a fully updated anti-virus and anti-malware suite, or being wary of entering sensitive data over unsecured networks. Yet these are the elements that are the most critical. All the protection in the world won’t mean anything to someone whose password is compromised through negligence or social engineering.
Other basics include not using the same password for different access points, and enabling two-factor authentication whenever possible. For businesses, systems should also make use of more advanced alerts regarding intrusion attempts. Finally, there should always be transparent awareness of when and where any personal data is accessed or viewed.
As privacy becomes more of a boon, we will likely see a change in user attitude as well. For example, many people are currently quite comfortable with sharing significant amounts of personal information online, either via social networks or online activity tracking systems. If the successes of attempts to compromise security become more widely known, individuals may begin to think twice about what they share. Furthermore, they may well begin requesting better privacy and online protection tools.
Solving security requirements with education
Not knowing what potential threats are around and how to prevent them is a sure path towards being compromised.
Instead of users and companies taking reactive approaches to online protection, it is far better to educate first and mitigate risks in advance. This greatly minimises the impact of the human element in issues of security, even at the Enterprise level. It is also easy to act upon through regular and repeated training.
What providers can do for clients’ online protection
Managed Services providers above all, but all service providers in general, need to thoroughly educate the service recipients.
When it comes to security matters on services, one assumes that the providers have sufficient measures and processes in place to properly protect the service recipients. The key here is to build the education into the product and offer it as part of the implementation strategy. This is one the provider’s most important responsibilities. Furthermore, one should regularly update the education and information. This ensure two things: first, that the service provider keeps abreast of the latest developments in protection; second, that clients become aware of the provider’s efforts in protecting them.
This approach also has an unexpected benefit. If service providers continue offering reassurance through tangible security efforts, the level of trust in the sector will also rise. Trust becomes a critical factor in long-term relationships. To build it even more, companies could consider offering online protection training incentives, in order to foster interaction between employees and clients.
The author would like to thank the Adept Technical Services team for their contributions towards this article.