Photo: Alex Milan Tracy / TNS
Cybersecurity is a topic that is repeatedly in the headlines. This past week, China was credited with hacking the National Security Agency. On the May 5 on the “60 Minutes” television program, one of the news segments was on ransomware. Have your noticed that nearly operational team in the movies and on television has a person who is a high-level cyber hacker?
Ransomware is a software program that infiltrates your information systems and freezes your files. You then receive a notification from the hacker that you need to pay a ransom by a specific date to receive an encryption key that will unlock your system. Additionally, I would wager that most of you reading this column have been victims of your personal data being stolen from a vendor or organization with which you are affiliated.
I recently attended a seminar on cybersecurity. It was held by the Community Economic Development Fund in Meriden, and the program consisted of a cybersecurity attorney from Murtha Cullina LLP in Stamford and the co-founders of Atlas Cybersecurity in Great Neck, N.Y.
The combined presentations offered a number of insights and considerations that organizations and individuals should consider to minimize their exposure to negative cyber activity. The information presented was more detailed but a few of the lower-level takeaways were:
— Change your passwords on a regular basis.
— Where possible use dual authentication for your systems access.
— When offered updates or software patches, install them in a timely fashion.
— A long password with special characters is better than a short password.
— Back up your data and test the backup.
For organizations, it is also critical that an analysis of cyber exposure and data needs is performed. The cyber analysis then can lead to development of a plan to prepare your organization to minimize the damage of a cyber exposure if you are targeted.
As you know from past columns, I have particular interest in how customer service is impacted by the activities and processes of one’s organization.
It was mentioned in the “60 Minutes” piece that, in one case, the company hacked was told that their client data would be released. Think about that for a moment. Your organizational data being compromised is bad enough, to include your financials, personnel data, strategic plans, etc. But your client data and the implied trust associated with maintaining that data, I contend, is another level. I look at it in a simplistic manner: if you have a bad cold it is bad enough that those in your household are exposed to becoming ill, but to now expose all of your friends to the disease is a way to lose friends.
Some might say that most of us have had our personal data compromised by some organization and we still frequent those establishments or have kept that job. We now know that even the NSA can be hacked. Certainly changing our passwords will not prevent a nation-state from getting our data; however, being more diligent about our cyber presence and having a plan can reduce the potential damage of a cyber exposure. If not, contact the firms above or others in the growing cybersecurity industry for assistance.
Cornell Wright is the lead consultant at The Parker Wright Group Inc. in Stratford, with a focus on benefits of strategic customer service. He can be reached at 203-377-4226 or email@example.com.