IT security is an increasingly vital issue – but is your running a small business, in-house IT expertise may be well beyond your grasp.
Any company worth its salt knows that network security can mean the difference between effective business practices and seriously impaired IT systems. In this day and age, with organisations increasingly reliant on technology, most people are aware of security threats, in the form of viruses, hackers and disgruntled employees.
Small firms have been outed in the press as the weak link in the security chain. This has induced a sense of quasi-paranoia in the small business community, eager not to antagonise bigger companies who may be affected by a security breach in the smaller company’s networks.
But without an in-house IT expert on hand, many owners and managers of small companies are vulnerable. Outsourcing security provision could be the answer, but this can also be problematic.
When running your own business, you may be reticent to relinquish control of any one whole area. But in the on-going battle against viruses, hackers and other malicious attacks, the security of your company’s networks has to be the top priority. Designing and tailoring your company’s security policy is a job for the security experts.
However, as with any outsourcing contract, it is vital to draw up clear lines of responsibility and involvement. There is no point in handing over the complete management of your security if you still want to have significant input in how your security policy is run.
There are important things to remember at every stage of the deal:
Contract stage: when ironing out the details of the contract with suppliers, ensure that regular liaison is built in to your service level agreement meaning you can stay on top of what security processes are being implemented and what threats your company is most at risk from.
Building your security policy: outsourcing security doesn’t mean giving your provider carte blanche where all your security decisions are concerned. The degree to which you are involved is up to you and if you want a hand in designing your security policy and selecting which measures are most crucial for your business, then you have to ensure your input is noticed and understood.
One point of contact: it’s usually simpler for all concerned if there is one point of contact at the supplier end and one at your end – this minimises the risk of things falling through the net.
Keep up to date on threats and attacks: just because you have outsourced, doesn’t mean that you should be detached from what’s going on in the market. Being savvy about which security threats are doing the rounds is still vital – it means that you can speak to your supplier knowledgeably and be on the front foot where it comes to decision-making.
Educate your staff: just because you have outsourced security provision doesn’t mean the buck stops with the supplier – it’s just as crucial that staff within your organisation are fully aware of security concerns. Security education for staff is paramount to the success of your company’s security policy.
Outsourcing security provision – and indeed any IT service – enables you and your staff to get on with the jobs they do best without worry. Rather than struggling with firewall updates or facing the higher cost of an in-house IT department, it gives the opportunity for new and growing companies to stay at the top of the decision tree when it comes to selecting best security practice.
Careful negotiation with your security supplier and the proper measures in place mean that rather than handing over control, together you can govern the security practices for your organisation and ensure that company networks stay watertight from attack.