We heard back in December 2013 that 40 million credit and debit card numbers were stolen from individuals who made in-store purchases at Target.  To make things worse, on January 10, 2014, Target confirmed this statement while also adding that hackers stole personal information – including names, phone numbers, and email and mailing addresses – from another 70 million customers as part of a data breach.

And Target is not alone; other retailers, such as Neiman Marcus and popular private-messaging service, Snapchat also announced being cyber attacked within the past month.

In the United States, over 600 million records containing sensitive personal information from about 4,000 security breaches have been stolen since January 2005, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

While the details of these attacks are still being investigated, there is one fact that seems to ring true: cyber attackers don’t discriminate.  Security breaches can affect businesses of all sorts – small retailers, non-profit organizations, large corporations, online resellers.  What is your business doing to ensure that you’re not just another statistic in this ever-increasing trend?

Whether your primary concern is your customer-facing data network or your own data network, now is the time to protect your business’ communications.  Rob Delevan, information technology consultant at Wasatch I.T., advises businesses to create a communications strategy “making it difficult for cybercriminals to carry out an attack and having the forthright to plan an effective response when a breach takes place.”

While Delevan was referring primarily to network security, it’s important to realize that your communications strategy should also include a security plan for the devices being used on that network.

Network Security:

Your network is in fact the lifeline that keeps everything else up and running.  Network security can sometimes seem too complex and expensive to handle on your own, but companies like ETA make it easy.  In fact, with a Unified Threat Management (UTM) plan in place, you can effectively consolidate and manage all of your key security applications, such as firewalls, VPNs, antivirus solutions, etc., into one, single solution.  UTMs protect your network from unauthorized users, while also ensuring your employees, customers, and partners can continue to access your network securely from any location at any time.

For those of you using a Mitel system, Mitel has network offerings in place to help secure your data that you may not already be taking advantage of.  To ensure the deployment of secure internal and external workspaces, including hotels, airports and home offices, the MiVoice Border Gateway provides comprehensive threat protection, strict access control, and privacy in a single consolidated server. The result? Remote employees can securely work and collaborate as part of the office network without being fearful of exposing confidential information.

Device Security:
While your network may seem like the most obvious and important area to protect, many don’t realize that each and every workstation device being used on that network is a possible entry point for hackers as well.  Unsecured SIP devices (softphones, tablets, etc.) can be gateways for hackers to steal valuable information or even worse, they can use these devices to make unauthorized phone calls, leading to exuberant costs.

Employees should be educated about the SIP devices they are using and what threats each of them pose. And the education shouldn’t stop there! Every employee that is accessing or utilizing your business’ network should be trained and required to follow many, if not all of these best practices:

  • Create strong, unique passwords and update your passwords frequently
  • Use caution when receiving and opening an unknown email attachment
  • Navigate the web carefully, specifically when accessing external links

Disaster Recovery Plan:

For most small to medium-sized companies, losing access to business-critical data and applications—even for a short time—can be crippling. In the event that you do in fact experience a security breach, having a Disaster Recovery plan in place can get your business right back on its feet.  ETA has a broad range of solutions that deliver Enterprise-class Server data protection and recovery technology that help safeguard your critical assets and keep you up and running. Knowing your sensitive data is in the hands of an unknown source can be a terrifying experience for anyone, but many businesses have found that a Disaster Recovery plan not only leads to the retrieval of this information, but it can sometimes uncover other details regarding the cyberattack.

According to the IBM X-Force Trend and Risk Report, the average cost of a single, successful cyberattack is $320,000 – far more than the average data security investment.  Now is the time for your business to create a communications security strategy before you are just another statistic.