How secure are your internal communication channels?
The tools you use to keep your business moving also expose it to risk.
Email accounts, smartphones, tablets, and the dozens of tools you access online to keep your business moving makes accessing information easier—and not only for your own team. It also makes it possible for those who aren’t part of your company to access it. And if this information gets in the wrong hands, it could have huge ramifications for your business.
Ensuring that your internal communication channels are secure is absolutely critical. Many of the biggest and most successful businesses in the world have experienced leaks and hacks, from Facebook to Sony’s film studio. These costly mistakes have exposed embarrassing emails and allowed outsiders to get their hands on valuable information.
Whether it be an email sent between two employees about an upcoming project or an angry team member’s rant about their supervisor to your HR team, your private communication channels need to be kept private. If your communication channels aren’t protected, then the information that’s being shared cannot be considered private.
All kinds of information can be jeopardized:
Information related to confidential projects
Social security numbers
Confidential financial statements
These factors mean you need to understand why your communications are at risk, but also know exactly what to do next.
Why your company’s information is at risk
Breaches are costly, averaging a cost of $3.6M according to a Ponemon Institute report.
There are multiple risks jeopardizing your internal communications and private information, which make a costly breach possible. These risks include theft, employee negligence, unsecured networks, communication issues, and using consumer-focused communication tools for business purposes.
Your business may not be Facebook, Tesla, or Uber, but that doesn’t mean online thieves aren’t interested in the information you have and share. Personal data is valuable. A single set of client records can be worth up to $1,500. It is not uncommon for this information to be targeted, stolen, and sold on a black market.
Despite what you read in the news or see in movies, hackers and thieves don’t solely target large corporations. They look for smaller, easier targets as well.
While data thieves are a very real threat, the biggest risk to the safety of your internal communications is actually employee negligence. As Carmen Reinicke of CNBC puts it, “hackers are no match for human error.”
The statistics back her statement, with 47% of business leaders citing human error, including lost devices or documents, as the cause of their data breach.
Information should be protected wherever it is stored and accessed. Every employee, network, and device used to access and interact with internal communications should be guarded.
Businesses are also more agile than ever. Do you have remote employees? Are employees working a day a week at home or from coffee shops and co-working spaces? These new trends increase the necessity of securing internal communications and further expose businesses to the risk of a data breach.
If an employee uses an open Wi-Fi network to send sensitive emails or logs on to a corporate account using this network, their information is susceptible to being stolen.
“Most IT security breaches boil down to employee communication problems, which lead to real-world problems and security vulnerabilities,” according to Brand Barney of Security Metrics.
These issues include firewalls not being configured correctly, improper training, lacking proper patches in systems, and more. Vulnerabilities are easy for hackers to find and expose. Although your company may not be a top target, obvious mistakes can make your business more likely to be attacked or exposed.
Using consumer-focused communication tools for business purposes
Tools are created for different purposes. Consumer-focused communication tools are loaded with privacy issues and not fit for use in your business. This stems from their purpose.
A business-focused internal communication platform is intended to securely offer your business agile ways to share information with minimal risk. Consumer-focused tools, like WhatsApp, were created to collect and store data in exchange for allowing them to use the platform.
This played out in mid-2019 when WhatsApp was breached. Users, including many business owners and their employees, became targets for malicious spyware that was installed on their smartphones as a result.
Securing your internal communication channels: what to do now
Security must be an ongoing effort at your company. The tools you use and the threats you face often change, which complicates efforts to protect against breaches and hacks.
But there are steps you can take that will reduce your risk significantly.
Provide a business-grade internal communication solution
Don’t trust your sensitive information and internal communications to a consumer communication tool that is built to collect and store information. Implement a business communication tool created to help simplify and protect your company’s information.
A workstream collaboration platform like Karbon allows you to manage your communications in an efficient, organized, and secure manner. Karbon provides support for Office 365 and Google authentication, encrypted data storage, enterprise-grade cloud servers, and GDPR compliance, which eliminates many risks tied to internal communications.
Create or review your internal communication policy
Every company should have an internal communication policy that helps safeguard against employee negligence, breaches, and hacks. This policy should clearly outline what is and isn’t acceptable when sending and receiving files and messages related to the company.
Enforce the policy
Many organizations have communication policies, but not all of them enforce them as well as they should. Enforcing helps assure that employees are following the steps outlined in the plan to keep communications safe. Designate a person or team to be responsible for overseeing this.
Reassess as needed
As mentioned above, things change. Schedule monthly or quarterly meetings to review the safety of your internal communications and safety and make adjustments when necessary.
Where does your company stand in the fight against leaks and hacks? Take time today to analyze your efforts against these threats.