A lively sense of self-preservation is a must if you want to enjoy the comfort zones you create for yourself and your organization. While you do not have to imagine enemies lurking behind every stick and stone, you should be conscious that harmful elements do inhabit your world and you need to protect yourself against possible attacks on you or your environment. With digital data exploding out of your systems, you must extend your awareness to hostile agencies that perpetuate cyber crimes and may threaten the security of your data stores, online and offline.

Cyber crimes are facilitated by sheer carelessness of your employees. Every year, thousands of laptops containing confidential information are lost. Most of these laptops and mobile devices are not protected with hard drive encryption or anti-theft systems. Employees do not understand the value of the data they are generating and often share passwords with co-workers and other employees who are not normally given access to such data by enterprise policy. Employees also share information with suppliers, contractors and other outsiders using collaboration and file sharing tools. A few employees may maliciously create data breaches for personal gain or revenge.

Employees who have left the company can also pose a threat to data security. Employers who do not remove the rights and privileges of ex-employees from their computing systems are likely to find that their ex-employee has exploited the situation to their advantage or the advantage of the competition. Malicious ex-employees may infect the systems with malware or modify, delete or corrupt data in the data stores of the company.

External data threats are rare, but cannot be ignored. Eavesdroppers may listen at open ports and hijack, corrupt or modify information that is being transmitted over the network. If you store your data with third parties such as online backup service providers, your data is vulnerable if the third party systems are compromised or open to access by employee(s) of the service provider. Your data can also vanish into cyber space if the third party service provider becomes bankrupt or puts down his servers for economic reasons. Data shares over the Internet are also vulnerable.

You need to remain vigilant and aware of the possibilities of cyber crimes and you must make the necessary security arrangement to safeguard your data. Employee education, encryption of data in transit and in store, audit and review of user / activity logs, ongoing user management, and constant attention to data security will help you guard your organization’s data against cyber crimes.