Security Risks at the Macro Level
The recent disclosure of the National Security Administration's Prism surveillance program is alarming on three levels. The first, of course, is that there is so much data out there. Who would have thought that virtually (no pun intended) everything you do online is searchable and retrievable? The second is that the Prism program was initiated and controlled by the federal government, but with a lot of cooperation from the private sector. This is not exactly what was intended by proponents of Public/Private cooperation as noted in the linked article in the Harvard Business Review. But there is a third cause for concern, and this might be the most frightening of all for business owners: the whole operation was exposed by a low-level high school dropout. The take home message: the data is out there, and anyone can get to it. But Prism is not the primary topic for this post; data security is, and, with the world shrinking, the lack of cybersecurity poses a bigger threat companies and to our entire economy than anyone would have ever anticipated, again as recounted in the HBR.
Security Risks at the Micro Level
While your business may not be dealing with zettabytes of personal data, you are no less vulnerable to malicious hacking, advanced malware invasions and disgruntled employee sabotage or theft of intellectual property. But even if your business manages to avoid all of these, there is yet another form of security breach that you may have to reckon with: more and more serious security breaches are caused by non-malicious employee error. This means that the usual security steps you can take (latest software versions, firewall, anti-virus software etc.) must be augmented by employee training. In fact, employer training may also be necessary.
Security Risks at the Collaboration Level
Collaboration is one of the key components of successful businesses today. This collaboration can be among internal departments, de-centralized subsidiaries and even outside organizations. Collaboration means file sharing, allowing more and more users to access data. The security implications are obvious: the more data that is being shared among more people in more organizations, the greater the possibility of a breach occurring. Even email, the most basic form of cyber communication, can be problematic. We're all aware of embarrassing emails being inadvertently sent or copied to the wrong people, but email can also pose security risks.
The Virtual Data Room (VDR) and how it can Help
Small and medium-sized enterprises today have access to technology they wouldn't have dreamed of as little as ten years ago, and like the technology, they also have exposure to the risks. One of the most effective ways to reduce critical security breaches, the kind that can destroy your business, is to utilize a Virtual Data Room, or VDR. Used especially for proprietary documents (like letters of incorporation, contracts, patents, financial documents etc.) the VDR allows SMBs to take advantage of robust security features (like 256 bit encryption, Secure Socket Layer and Transport Layer Encryption) that they could not provide on their own. Additionally, when collaboration at any level is required, the VDR is governed by permission-based access control so the users have access to only what the enterprise intends and only when they intend it.
Massive amounts of data exist in the online world today. The Prism program demonstrates how much is out there and how easily it can be breached. On a local level, small and medium businesses face the same vulnerabilities. Thorough employee training, keeping software up to date and employing the latest firewall and anti-virus technologies are part of the answer. A key additional component for the SMB can be the utilization of a Virtual Data Room. The VDR can safeguard all critical documents and make internal and inter-enterprise collaboration safe, and as such is rapidly achieving the status as a must-have technology. Security threats will continue to evolve; the VDR is part of the also-evolving answer to these threats.