No matter which industry you find yourself in, information is always going to be critical to your business’ success. How data is processed, analysed, and stored can see businesses effectively predicting and preparing for trends within the market, providing exceptional services that meet your clients’ demands, and both forming and maintaining a reputation of the highest standard. But in order for any of this to become a reality, your company needs to make information security a top priority.
What is Information Security?
The amount of information that businesses store is ever increasing, as are the risks that companies face in trying to protect it. At times referred to as InfoSec or data protection, information security is about taking measures as a business to safeguard your critical data. This can be in the form of personal information for both your employees and your customers, intellectual property, credentials, financial details and more.
When people think of an information security definition, the first threat that often comes to mind is the risk of data theft. And while this certainly is a concern that needs to be addressed, it is not the only consideration that should be taken into account. Information security does encompass data theft, but the right data protection will also address the risks of tampering and deletion.
Is There A Difference Between Information Security And Cybersecurity?
We often talk about the multitude of cyber threats that can impact business operations, and you may be wondering – how exactly does information security differ from the cybersecurity measures that you’re already putting in place. When it boils down to it, cybersecurity actually forms part of overall information security management.
While there are plenty of cyber threats out there, and they absolutely do need to be protected against, information security services are far broader, taking into consideration threats that aren’t necessarily digital. They include network security, device and endpoint security, data encryption, and even protection against physical threats such as theft of devices themselves and disaster protection.
Why is Information Security Important?
Data regulation has been a hot topic over the past few years. With the EU’s GDPR being introduced in 2018 and South Africa’s POPI Act being actioned over the coming year, businesses have a responsibility to ensure that personal data is stored and processed correctly. Failing to meet the (relatively) new requirements can carry harsh penalties for a business, which on its own would be reason enough to prioritise information security risk management. But in reality, losing data or experiencing a leak carries with it far greater risk. That of a company’s reputation.
A reputation can take years to build, but seconds to ruin. When businesses experience data leaks or information theft, one of the biggest hits that they take is losing their clients’ trust. While a hefty fine might take a while to recover from, it is recoverable over time. But trust is far more fragile, and the effect of a business losing its hard-earned reputation by failing to protect clients’ personal details will have far-reaching consequences.
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How Does Information Security Work?
As is the case with cybersecurity, information security isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s not as simple as buying a single app or piece of technology. It is a commitment that businesses need to take across the board. This is the only way to ensure that data is being protected from all threats, both internal and external. There are three priorities that businesses need to take into account when performing an information security risk assessment, and these are often known as the principles of information security:
Not everyone in your company needs access to all of your business data. By making sure that the right people (and only the right people) have access to the information that they need, you are maintaining the confidentiality of your data. You are also increasing its protection against outside threats since the fewer people have access to information, the more difficult it will be for an attacker to gain access to the credentials that they’d need.
This is where Identity & Access Management plays an important role. Being able to easily manage the permissions of your users, monitor which files are being accessed, and note who is accessing them, you’ll be able to maintain confidentiality. You’ll also be alerted to unauthorised access attempts, giving you the opportunity to stop attacks in their tracks.
A solution like Microsoft Intune can also be exceptionally useful in maintaining data confidentiality, as it protects businesses against laptops being stolen, allowing you to clear any business data from a device.
When people think of threats to their data, they often think of intentional threats – external or internal parties who want to compromise or leak information. But one of the biggest threats to your data isn’t intentional at all. Incomplete and inaccurate information can be just as damaging to your business. Outdated file versions, multiple files with slightly different information within them, or inaccurate data can have a severe impact on the services you’re able to offer and the decisions you make, particularly when it comes to data analysis.
This is why data integrity is an important part of information security. You need to have an assurance that the information your business uses is both correct and complete. Once again, Microsoft solutions can help with this. When you use Microsoft SharePoint, for example, there’s no need to store multiple versions of files, which can in itself lead to confusion. Microsoft has version history incorporated into SharePoint and Office 365, allowing you to backtrack if you revert to previous versions of documents if you ever find it necessary, and simplifying file storage.
While it is important that business data remains confidential, and access to it should be limited to those who need the information, it is just as important that the data remains available and easily accessible to those people.
The availability of information – how quick and easy it is for authorised users to access data – may not seem like it’s part of information security per se, but when data disaster strikes, for example, it’s essential that a company is able to access their information. The most secure way to store data, if you think about it, would be to have it completely inaccessible to anyone at all. But that would defeat the purpose of having data. As a business, you need to be able to use the information in your possession, otherwise, there is no point in storing or maintaining it.
With the way businesses work shifting more towards remote or hybrid environments, availability is a particularly important part of any company’s information security. You want to ensure that no matter where your teams are based, and no matter which devices they may be using, they are able to perform their roles effectively and efficiently, while still protecting your data and maintaining its integrity.
Who Can You Turn To For Information Security Solutions?
With so much to consider when it comes to information security, you may be wondering who could best advise you on the solutions that your business needs. This is where Solid Systems comes in. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we are perfectly placed to help you implement leading solutions for cloud storage, disaster recovery, email security, network security, and device management. But implementation is one part of the equation.
As a Managed IT services provider and IT support company in South Africa, our priority is making sure that your business is protected, supported, and making use of the best possible technologies to help you achieve your goals. Not only does our IT helpdesk support your teams with any of their technology needs, but we work with you to understand your goals and your security needs, helping you to implement an information security policy, disaster recovery plan, and a roadmap for your future solutions. All in all, we help you step confidently into the future. So if you’re ready to start your journey, get in touch with us today.