Understanding IT Security

8 Minutes Read
IT Security relates to the security of your company’s data via computer network security. Attached is a concept called Information Assurance, which refers to the CIA. CIA relates to confidentiality, integrity, and availability. 

Confidentiality is about protecting sensitive and private information from unauthorized access. Integrity relates to protecting data from deletion or modification by unauthorized persons. Availability refers to the actual availability of company data. 

Information Security relates to the different tools and processes your company uses specifically to protect any critical or sensitive business information. 

Cybersecurity deals explicitly with protecting your business’s sensitive and critical data from cybercriminals. Although their malicious attempts usually occur over the internet, these attacks can also happen face-to-face. 

Many companies believe that because they aren’t some large tech company or a severe government organization they’re unlikely targets of a cyberattack. In reality, the potential cyber threats to your company are real and prevalent. Just because you’re petite or don’t produce something you consider “high-value” doesn’t mean you’re safe. 

Keep in mind that many cyberattacks, like phishing and malware, aren’t necessarily targeted. Instead, hackers send out mass emails or infect websites, knowing someone, somewhere will click the wrong link and infect their computer. We’ll go into greater detail on this point later in this article. Businesses that store large amounts of sensitive data would do well to ensure they follow best practices, as security breaches could result in highly costly business losses and legal penalties.

But even if such an outcome were not the case, to ignore the possibility of malicious attacks is to ignore the risk of your day-to-day operations abruptly shutting down for an unknown period of time. There’s also a risk that your internal and external business communications might be disrupted if your cloud applications’ security, or even your social media accounts, are compromised. Such breaches, especially those that divulge your users’ private information, could lead to significant reputational damage, loss of data, and an inevitable hit to your bottom line.


IT Security Threats 

There are several significant threats to your business’s network security. If your company is to counter them, it’s important to understand these threats and how they work. 


Weak Security Policies

If an unauthorized person wanted to access your network, this would be the most specific vulnerability to exploit.

Having unlocked or easily unlocked devices make for easy targets for this kind of threat, and even less than sophisticated hackers can take advantage of any weak company passwords. Organizations that fall prey to these threats generally have no password change policies in place, don’t require automatic device locking after inactivity, or have poor access control policies in place. 


Web Browser Extensions

Although most appear to be benign, some web browser extensions have been compromised by cybercriminals in their attempt to gain access to the sensitive data of users, including web history, cookies, and even saved passwords. 


Public WI-FI

As convenient as public wifi is, it comes with its concerns. 

Public wifi networks are a common avenue that hackers use when attempting Man-in-the-Middle cyber attacks, which allow them to intercept your data that’s following through the public wifi connection. This is primarily a concern for employees that work remotely, as these workers often utilize cafes and other public locations for free wifi. 



Phishing attacks are a form of social engineering that occurs when a cybercriminal attempts to trick you or your employees into giving up your private information via email, phone, in person, and now even through SMS communication. They accomplish this by posing as a legitimate brand or person that asks for your private information. 



Malware is among the most popular and common threats to your business’s network. Defined simply, malware is malicious software, programs, or files deliberately placed on your network. 

They go by many names, including trojan horses, viruses, spyware, etc. You may also encounter malware in the form of a Backdoor Attack, which refers to any method authorized or unauthorized users use to bypass standard security measures to gain access to your company’s network, software applications, or computer systems. 


Ransomware Email

Ransomware is a type of malware that, once downloaded, immediately encrypts and prevents you from accessing your company’s systems and data until you pay a ransom. 

Most come via suspicious emails that trick you into clicking nefarious links or downloading malware disguised as a regular attachment. You can also encounter them on questionable sites. Failing to properly update your browser, operating system, or installed software may also leave your business vulnerable to ransomware attacks. Remember that even after payment, there is no guarantee that the criminal will give you access to your captured data. 


Your Employees

Unfortunately, the biggest security threat to your business is probably your employees. 

For instance, the victims of phishing attacks are typically employees who were duped into clicking a suspicious link in an email. Of course, security breaches caused by employees are not always accidental. Sometimes employees are given a greater level of access to your company’s systems than necessary, which enables them to abuse their access privileges for personal gain.  The simplest way to mitigate this issue is to set intelligent policies regarding employee data privileges and routinely educate your workforce on avoiding phishing attacks. 


Unpatched Software & Hardware Vulnerabilities

As technology changes and ages, hackers eventually learn how to bypass old hardware and software security measures. 

Because there are so many cybercriminals looking to exploit outdated security systems, one of the riskiest things your company can do is to dismiss the updates that pop up on your business devices and applications.  Although it may be tempting to sleep an update to save an extra 5-10 minutes of your workday, doing so actually puts your company’s security at risk.

The best way to counter this risk is to maintain regular update schedules and have your IT team ensure that the latest security patches are being applied to company systems. 


What Are the Types of IT Security?

You should generally be concerned with seven types: network, data, internet, data, cloud, application, and physical security. 

Keep in mind that as networks and systems continue to integrate with the cloud and other emerging technologies, they will likely accommodate emerging threats to your security. 


Network Security

Network security relates to protecting the interaction of your company’s network and your devices through the use of a firewall–ideally a next-generation firewall.

This would protect your network from unauthorized access, unexpected malfunctions, misuse, destruction, modification, and improper disclosure of information.


Data Security

Data security relates to protecting the actual files, data, and databases that house your company information. 

Commonly used data security practices include encryption, tokenization, hashing, and key management. 


Internet Security

Internet security is about making sure that any access to the internet is protected both out and in. 

The purpose of this is to ensure that access to specific malicious sites or other nefarious web entities isn’t allowed entry to the network.

Internet security measures can be established inside the network or outside the network to accommodate employees that are roaming, traveling, or simply working remotely. 

A simple example is when your employees use a VPN at a coffee shop instead of the publicly available wifi. 


Endpoint Security

Endpoint security relates to protecting the endpoint device at your company workstations, although it can also include mobile devices’ security. 

This type of security stops your company devices from being accessible to malicious networks that might compromise your business data’s safety. 

Anti-virus software and device management software are standard practices of endpoint security. 


Cloud Security

Cloud security relates to protecting your company applications, data, and identities on the public cloud, thus not covered by your on-premise security stack. 

Best practices involve using a cloud access security broker (CASB), a secure internet gateway (SIG), and cloud-based unified threat management (UTM) as a way of limiting who has access to your company's cloud networks.


Application Security

Application security refers to protecting applications that your company is running, whether they be on-premise or in the cloud. 

Application security makes sure that the data inside your company applications is secure and not open to unauthorized personnel. 

The goal of application security is to limit access to your applications to relevant personnel. Even then, making sure that said person only has access to what they need, no more, no less. 


Physical Security

Physical security involves setting up proper measures so that both employees and non-employees cannot steal company data, devices, hard drives, servers, etc. 

Ensuring that server rooms are locked, giving only authorized personal keycards, and having a security watch for intruders goes a long way toward providing that company data doesn’t unexpectedly leave the premises.


Protecting Your Organization From IT Security Threats


Remote Work Policies 

Make sure your company implements and educates your employees on remote work policies. 

These include but are not limited to: 

  • Avoid public wifi-networks or encrypting your web connection.
  • Make sure not to conduct work on personal computers.
  • Remember to check that no one can see your screen if working with sensitive data.
  • As an extra precautionary measure, using a USB data blocker when charging at public phone charging stations is often found at malls.

Data Redundancy  

Data redundancy technically relates more to business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR). However, it’s still relevant to address here as a response to specific incidents, particularly those relating to ransomware attacks.

In these situations, the criminal has control of your data, and there’s no guarantee you’ll be getting it back–but if your company implements data redundancy and has a backup or copy of the stolen data, you won’t need to worry so much about the ransom. 

The next step would be to find out if compromised and to patch up the hole so that this incident doesn’t happen again. 


Internet & Hardware Security  

As mentioned earlier in the article, having your remote or off-premise employees use a VPN to connect to your business network is an excellent way to reinforce your business’s internet security. 

For hardware security, remember to keep all company devices password-protected and set them to lock after an amount of inactivity. 

To keep unauthorized users from bypassing your password protection, make sure to enable two-step verification. 


Keep Up with Updates  

Keeping relevant software applications updated means the applications run without issue, and security is up to date. Older applications are more susceptible to hacking. 


Audit Your IT Security  

Creating and implementing regular audits is the best way to track which strategies and practices are working and which need to either be improved or removed from your policies. The audits help you assess your company’s level of risk in a measurable way. 


IT Security Policy Best Practices 

Having policies that are too specific can end up needlessly restrictive, while creating policies that are too broad may not be secure enough; the secret is finding the right balance that fits your unique company’s needs.

Policies that restrict the sharing of passwords both inside and outside your organization, group policies in the IT department related to server access, and similar protocols are all things to keep in mind when developing or reviewing your policies.

The main thing to keep in mind with policies is to specify that all employees comply with your stated rules and guidelines. 

Business managers typically achieve this by setting up acceptable use policies (AUPs), which stipulate the constraints and practices employees must agree to interact with your business’s network or internet. 


Safeguard Your Business’s Future by Protecting Your Networks

Having your entire business on the internet makes it more easily accessible and scalable. Still, it also runs the risk of a hacker breaching your security and gaining access to critical information. 

IT Security is what keeps your business safe as it continues to adapt to the modern era. To ensure that your own business stays prepared for potential threats, keep the lessons and best practices covered here in mind.

To summarize:

  • What is IT Security? – the set of cybersecurity strategies your company uses to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data and or critical resources, including data, devices, and networks. 
  • Cybersecurity vs. IT Security vs. Information Security – IT Security relates to the security of your business’s data via computer network security. Information security refers to the different tools and processes used to protect any critical or private business info. Cybersecurity deals with safeguarding sensitive business data from cyberattacks. 
  • Why is IT Security Important? – Cyberattacks and security breaches occur all the time, and most attacks are random, meaning that all businesses, even smaller mom and pop shops, are at risk. A breach of your private data can lead to reputational damage, financial loss, and disruption to business operations. 
  • IT Security Threats –  weak security policies, compromised web browser extensions, unsecured public wifi, phishing attacks, ransomware, malware, and employees who accidentally or purposefully compromise your network security. 
  • Types of IT Security –  network security, data security, internet security, endpoint security, cloud security, application security, and physical security. 
  • IT Security Best Practices – the use of remote work policies, applying data redundancy to mitigate damage in the event of a ransomware incident, implementing internet and hardware security, keeping up with software and application updates, auditing, and having a specific and manageable set of policies. 

Maintaining Your Business’s IT Security

With everything that needs to be done, from the security audits to policy implementation, it can feel like one too many things to deal with on top of standard business operations. 

Spend less time worrying about your security and more time running your business by taking advantage of our Managed Security Services, which come with preventative IT Security measures on top of our advanced threat detection and remediation solutions.