Although your company may not have experienced any serious problems with your IT system, that doesn't mean it is adequately optimized. In fact, if you've never had your system assessed for weakness and vulnerabilities, you may be one phishing email scam away from a disaster that could result in you being sued by customers and investors. Here are two ways investing in an IT assessment can keep you from landing in legal hot water.
Ensure Customer Information Is Being Handled Securely
According to Identity Theft Resource Center and CyberScout, there were 791 data breaches during the first half of 2017. Collectively, these breaches exposed the data contained in approximately 12 million records that included sensitive information such as credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and medical histories. While it's true that many of these breaches were caused by hackers, some of them weren't hacks at all but rather leaks that resulted from the company not handling client information in a secure way to prevent unauthorized access.
Data leaks expose customers to identity theft and other problems, and you can be sure they will look to you to compensate them for their losses if your system was the cause of the exposure. An IT assessment can uncover where the holes are that may let customer data slip through and recommend the necessary changes to minimize the risk of data loss and any associated consequences.
For instance, ads on websites can contain viruses that could infect your computer system if an employee clicks on them, which can result in a data breach. One way to prevent this problem is to ensure you have an adblocker installed on all browsers your employees use to access the internet.
An IT assessor will likely uncover many other things you may not have thought would put your company at risk, so you may want to give some serious thought to hiring one, particularly if your company has experienced recent, rapid growth or if you employ a lot people who may not be tech savvy.
Uncover Problems With Third-Party Vendors
Another area where an IT assessment can be immeasurably useful is with evaluating how interfacing with third-party vendors may put your system at risk. Your IT security system and protocols may be top-notch, but it could be all for naught if a third-party vendor is not as diligent as you and has vulnerabilities in their system that could allow a breach.
A good example of this is when Target's systems were breached in 2013. According to a spokesperson, the hackers were able to access the retail giant's network via stolen credentials that were given to an HVAC company that provided services to the corporation. At the time, Target was investigating but didn't know how the thieves were able to get the credentials from the third-party vendor.
There isn't much you can do to control how other companies operate. However, an IT assessment can provide you with valuable information that lets you make better choices for your company. For example, if you know a vendor is very lax about its network security, you can decline to do business with the company and go with someone else who is more diligent.
Additionally, the IT assessor can make suggestions that will minimize the impact on your company should a third-party vendor be successfully hacked. For instance, it may be a good idea to firewall certain systems to keep unauthorized parties away, even if hackers manage to gain access to the main one.
There are many other ways a simple IT assessment can help you avoid becoming the latest victim of a data breach and subsequent lawsuits by your customers and investors. Contact a company that specializes in data protection to schedule an evaluation today.