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Protect A Smart Office From Hackers –
Modern smart offices are often quick to adopt technology that can speed the pace of business and productivity. Many are powered on the cloud for storage and processing power, and some even use systems within the Internet of Things (IoT) to network devices like printers, projectors, and even their coffee makers for greater convenience and capability.
But the more networked smart offices become, the more vulnerabilities they tend to gain. Here are a few key ways to go about protecting a modern smart office from hackers and other cyber threats.
Start by Securing Your Network –
Artificial intelligence (AI) already enables autonomous IT networks to function with very little human intervention. Eventually, these networks could evolve their own security at a rate that puts hackers on a permanent learning curve. Until this uniquely desirable victory of machine over man occurs, the intelligence of cyber security specialists is ultimately responsible for hardening the defenses of a smart office network. The goal: to maintain a level of security with elegant IT solutions that keep getting smarter.
A cyber security solution that offers “strong” deterrence to hackers in one network context may be considered insufficient for another scenario, even when the architecture of an IT network is hypothetically the same.
Define the Variables of Your Security Needs –
To best defend your company against cyber threats, you need to know which threats you’re most likely to face. Your defense efforts should be contextual to what most establishes the threat. Variables in the global digital domain figure to be greater in type and number, and a hacker can strike with greater stealth and less legal risk than a lock picker.
Two ways to establish your deterrence efforts are by data type and by hacking profile.
Deterrence by Data Type –
Data value is a variable of how long a hacker may spend planning an attack. It can also forecast the diligence he might summon to will the success of the plan. However, data that’s more sensitive isn’t necessarily more targeted. As a general rule, if data has a mercenary dimension, it’s appealing to an appreciable number of hackers.
Most hackers would yawn at the sight of an allied military map of coastal Japan, but countless data sifters might leap at America-to-Japan passport credentials that remain cloaked for positive identification purposes. The map should be guarded, too. But the government would already have it blitzed with encryption, somewhere in the military sector.
Deterrence by Hacking Profile –
A certain type of smart office may attract a certain kind of hacker. The business location (e.g., Silicon Valley), the market (e.g., silent alarm systems), and client / customer information (e.g., alarm system override codes) are three examples of general clues to why a subset of hackers chooses your office over similar targets. Recognizing the traits and ambitions of hackers along with their chances of success, can help offices identify common threat types.
Start with a Two-Way Firewall –
Smart office or not, practically every business has a firewall. But the degree of protection that firewalls offer varies considerably. What distinguishes a hacker-resistant firewall for a smart office from a firewall that isn’t so “smart”? It begins with customization.
A custom firewall is built from scratch for the needs of an office. Some hire a developer to build it, but third-parties have made the expense unnecessary. A custom firewall is one that the provider tailors to meet the security needs of the office. Many of the most popular cyber security providers can provide a basic two-way firewall for your office, but a custom one is a resource any office should invest in.
Inbound and Outbound Traffic –
A two-way firewall has two sides: an inbound side and an outbound side. The inbound side protects against traffic approaching from outside of the network, including emails containing nefarious files that hackers could send, such as a Trojan Horse or a keystroke logger.
The outbound side does the opposite: it guards the network by preventing employees from accessing risky websites, which could potentiate security breaches by connecting with sites that hackers surreptitiously operate. It also stops employees from sending certain types of emails and sensitive data to destinations outside of the network, which could give hackers access to data they desire, without even needing to penetrate the network.
Working in tandem, the inbound and outbound sides of the firewall make it “smarter” at defending the network’s business-critical resources and preserving its efficient operation. Theoretically speaking, a two-way firewall offers double the defense of a one-way firewall.
Risky Sites Spoof “Safe” Sites –
When a business uses a one-way firewall that only monitors inbound traffic, it usually does so for a pair of related reasons: to save money on the firewall application, and because it reasons that the risk of visiting hacker-operated websites can be eliminated by imposing a strict policy against visiting sites that lack “safe” top-level domains, such as “.edu” and “.gov”.
The deeper rationale for the policy is often this: because hackers generally desire data that enables efficient financial fraud, websites primarily existing for informational purposes (with user accounts that don’t involve payment card data) are highly unlikely to be hacker-operated.
While this is generally true, some hackers spoof these types of sites expressly for this reason, coding the sites to secretively download data-scavenging malware to the visitor’s computer.
Furthermore, some hackers actually prefer to avoid payment card data, because they know the Payment Card Industry is adept at tracking down fraudulent spenders. Instead, they seek sensitive information that they could sell on a black market — such as account information for “.gov” sites — and hold it ransom. If the victimized business doesn’t pay up, the hacker sells the information, which can prove even costlier for the business in the long run.
Thorough risk assessment always shows that using a two-way firewall is the smartest option for a business, especially considering the financial fallout that hacked information could entail. For businesses needing a two-way firewall defense, in-house deployment is not the de facto gold standard. There are quite a few good reasons to use third-party firewall services, too.
Invest in Security Based on the Scale of Your Business –
A business’s own profile also affects its exposure to hacks. The effort to stay ahead of the hacking curve never ends. Hackers swarm data-rich IT networks, but the Microsoft Corporation experiences a true frenzy. Microsoft Cloud reportedly shakes off over 1.5 million attacks a day, and that’s just on the cloud.
It’s hard to imagine an industry titan winking at one of the most daunting threats to the industry it helped create — and those millions of daily hacks ensure that it won’t. Companies the size of Microsoft typically have the resources to hold their own against cyber threats. The real test lies with smaller businesses.
As your business grows, so with the threats it faces to cyber-security. As a responsible manager or business owner, take care to scale up your investment in IT protection along the way.
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Chris Scalise is a technical writer and content strategist from Los Angeles, CA. When he’s not playing LoL, he writes about tech trends and developments for several publications and companies, including Discount-Computer.com