The modern business world is almost impossible to successfully participate in, and indeed navigate, without a network in which data is stored and shared among employees. It will come as no surprise to you that regardless of the size or type, every company in this day and age handles data in some form or the other. With the growing use and storage of data, there has been another increase and that’s in the number of reports about data thefts. In fact, so rampant was the threat to personal data that the payment card industry created the global watchdog initiative, PCI DSS, to combat payment card fraud.
The result is that it has become absolutely imperative that you safeguard your company network and South Africa has been on a journey to ensure that all companies do their utmost in this regard by introducing the country’s new data privacy law, affectionately called POPIA, the Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013. The POPI Act was introduced last year, giving companies 12 months to align themselves to a rigorous set of guidelines and the deadline for compliance has since passed. It is now officially a legal requirement for all companies and organisations to secure their networks and we are reasonably sure that you and every other person in the country has received an influx of emails, each a minor variation of the other, as everyone who handles data makes consumers aware of their compliance.
While the process of becoming POPIA compliant hasn’t been easy to achieve without expert guidance, it has been a necessary step. We can no longer continue without effectively ensuring that our businesses operate with secure network connectivity in order to protect the data privacy of all those who have shared their information with us.
The Dangers of An Unsecured Network
Computer network security breaches are increasingly prevalent, costing companies hundreds of thousands each year. In the first six months of 2019 alone, Forbes reported that over 4 billion records were exposed due to data breaches, and in 2020, it was reported by IBM that the average cost per incident in American companies came to $8.64 million. While that’s more than twice as much as the global average, the cost that we face in South Africa is still devastating – and make no mistake, data breaches are alive and well on our shores.
A lot can go wrong if your company network is breached and your data falls into the wrong hands, including loss of customers, reputational damage, lawsuits, job losses, and other costs. In some cases, this can be the end of your business altogether.
Another cost worth considering is that with POPIA now in full force, a failure to comply with the Act’s requirements could have dire consequences. Depending on the offence, the penalties vary from a R10 million fine or imprisonment for 10 years (or both) to a lesser fine or imprisonment for a year (or both).
Given that there’s not a single organisation in existence, whether big or small, here in South Africa or elsewhere in the world, that doesn’t create, store, share or receive data of some kind, it is critical to go above and beyond to secure your network connection, safeguard your data, and build more impenetrable protection against hackers and viruses.
Best Practices To Secure Your Network Connectivity
It’s generally if not completely agreed that companies need to step up their data security approach, that said… it’s hard to know how to secure a network. Especially for small- and medium-sized companies that don’t have a full-time IT specialist or team to oversee system maintenance. Thankfully, we can share a number of network security best practices that business owners can implement in an effort to secure their network and data.
We covered the elements of securing your connectivity a short while ago in greater detail, however to give you an idea of what you can do to secure your network connectivity, here are several of our best practices.
Steps to secure your network connection:
- Surveillance (CCTV) to keep an eye on your data rooms.
- Security protocols to lock server rooms or devices containing sensitive information, including printers.
- Back-up protocols in case of system failures or accidentally overwritten or deleted data.
- Disable or remove drives and other connecting external drives.
- Use a reliable, encrypted protocol for passwords on the router for your business network.
- Create user profiles for multiple people accessing the same system according to the level of information a particular employee can access.
- Set permissions to restrict access to sensitive information from unauthorised users.
- Disable file sharing so that file sharing is enabled only on file servers.
- Protect your company’s data from hackers through data encryption.
- Use data masking to hide certain information to protect digital information from exposure to malicious sources.
- Employ data erasure to erase data that’s no longer in use.
- Always update router firmware.
- Use SSL certificates that allows an encrypted link between a browser and a Web server.
How Securing Your Network Connectivity Makes POPIA Compliance Easier
For those still unclear about it all, POPIA essentially lays out a framework that strictly governs when and how organisations collect, use, store, delete, and otherwise handle personal information. It makes sense when you consider just how downright scary the facts surrounding cybersecurity can be. Unfortunately, many companies have struggled to become compliant under the pressure of understandable obstacles, such as a lack of proper guidance, a lack of relevant knowledge, and a lack of internal channels to assist them to align with the Act.
As a leader in the provision of dependable data solutions for business connectivity, Huge Connect has advised and supported many companies in their journey to secure networking. What we have noticed is that because POPIA aims to protect personal information of both consumers and employees by ensuring businesses conduct responsible data management and storage, those who have already taken steps to protect their network connectivity and data are already leaps ahead of the game.
It is undoubtedly a journey worth pursuing. Not merely for the sake of legality, but for the sake of your company’s security and that of your customers.
Huge Connect is Here For Your Business
There are no two ways about it. Personal information has become a viable and proverbial hot commodity, making it critical to understand exactly how to secure your network connectivity. Rest assured, this isn’t a quest that you need to take alone.
Please contact the Huge Connect team for your secure data connectivity options. We’re here to help.