As the IT departments for businesses of every size in many industries move away from hardware operations, the risks and challenges change. Cloud-based solutions are more cost-effective, easier to maintain, and require less staffing than their hard-wired counterparts. However, security poses unique risks. With the increasing prevalence of cyber-attacks, how can IT staff ensure company data is safe in the cloud?
Existing security technology doesn’t always work with cloud-based operations. Thirty-two percent of IT professionals surveyed by Enterprise Strategy Group (ESG) admit they’ve been forced to abandon many traditional security practices because they aren’t effective for cloud security. Another 42 percent report they have abandoned some traditional security practices.
Making the Move to Cloud-Based Unified Communications
While many businesses are adopting cloud-based call operations as part of their Unified Communications strategy, call center-based enterprises sit at the forefront of the migration to the cloud.
These companies—whose livelihoods depend on reliable, advanced communications—have discovered that cloud-based solutions offer flexibility, cost-savings, and security that hardware can’t provide. However, implementing these systems effectively requires a proactive, careful, and thorough approach, especially when it comes to securing these systems against cyber-threats.
Use Encryption Software
Encrypting your data to ensure its security is a no-brainer, but the quality of that encryption should be on par and compatible with your Unified Communications (UC) system. Experts suggest following some basic guidelines when choosing encryption software:
• Use the strongest encryption process commercially available, currently 4-kilobit public key encryption.
• Include standard protocols such as secure real-time transport and transport layer security.
• Choose encryption software that’s easy for IT professionals to manage and implement— it should work across multiple UC platforms, including Microsoft Lync, Avaya, and others.
• See that it’s overseen by the UC service provider. In the event that an encryption malfunctions, the client (your company) isn’t liable.
• Software should cover multimedia encryption as well as regular communication.
Ensure Compliance with All Applicable Laws and Regulations
Each industry has a unique set of rules. Health care entities must follow strict security protocols to protect patient information in accordance with the Healthcare Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), while financial institutions must take extra measures to protect sensitive client data. Develop a plan with your IT decision-makers to ensure that you remain compliant when making the transition to cloud-based UC.
Also take the time to ensure that all members of your IT department understand the goals and the tools to deploy when it comes to security. IT decision-makers may be forced to abandon traditional practices in favor of new processes when cloud-UC technology is implemented. Since this is previously uncharted territory, keep a running dialogue with the IT department and staff. Align the IT budget with the organization’s security goals to ensure security measures are both cost-efficient and effective.
Mandate Employee Training
Cloud-based technology is cost-effective and secure, but the steps users take (or don’t take) can make it more or less secure. Cyberattacks are on the rise, posing a threat to every industry. The number of “security incidents” in all industries increased by 38 percent from 2014 to 2015, the largest jump in 12 years. Intellectual property remains a popular target and jumped 183 percent from 2014 to 2015.
Thanks to an increase in employee training, however, only a third of those incidents were due to employee error, down from nearly half in 2014. Still, if you could reduce your organization’s risk of cyber-threats by more than 33 percent, doesn’t it make sense to do so?
Employee education about the “dos and don’ts” of security is essential to maintain the integrity of your enterprise. An employee’s lapse in judgment can result in the theft of intellectual property, viruses or malware that can crash your UC systems, or fines for non-compliance that can cost your company thousands of dollars.
Don’t Let Security Challenges Deter You From Saving Money and Increasing Efficiency
Implementing cloud-based UC systems will require careful consideration and extra steps to overcome the security challenges. It’s not that cloud-based security is harder—it’s simply different, and may require additional training for your IT staff as well as employee training to maintain security across a variety of devices.
The payoffs, including lower costs, more efficient operations, and the convenience of cloud-based systems, far outweigh the additional security concerns, especially for companies who rely on affordable, effective and reliable call operations as their lifeblood.