Networking is powerful. But businesses that rely heavily on computer networks to connect their employees, customers, and business partners are also potentially opening themselves up to cyber attacks. Modern, expansive business networks – those that extend beyond a single building or complex – rely heavily on the Internet. Networked firms and other organizations should be aware of these risks, and take appropriate protective measures.
Traditional local networks within a single workplace can be walled off from the Internet to some degree – though Internet usage in the workplace are far more pervasive than it was even a few years ago. But modern business networks often extend far beyond a single work site, even beyond an individual organization.
Today it is common for organizations to have networks that include global connectivity, not only for mobile employees, but for their suppliers, partners, and customers. These may run through encrypted internet "tunnels." But every point of connection is a potential point of vulnerability.
Moreover, the fast-growing "Internet of things" connects not only people but devices. And these connected devices often include critical infrastructure. Networked devices may now be controlling trains, pipelines, and electrical grids. Which means that cyber attacks now can not only disrupt communications and data, but potentially wreak physical havoc as well.
The Obama administration has responded to this emerging national security threat with an Executive Order calling for greater cybersecurity coordination between business and government. But for networked businesses, security begins at home, by taking steps to protect network connections, and everything that is accessible from the network.
Companies cannot protect themselves from threats by walling themselves off from the world. Networking is a powerful tool, but like many powerful tools it requires that precautions be taken to ensure safe operation.
At GRT Corporation, our business is not selling software "solutions," but helping companies to help themselves by establishing and implementing robust security policies.