Make Your Dealership e-SecureBy Patricia S. Eyres
Article Date: 04-01-2005
Copyright(C) 2008 Associated Equipment Distributors. All Rights Reserved.
Tips for developing an effective, enforceable e-security policy.
Every dealership, regardless of size should have an easily understood, consistently enforceable policy to protect trade secrets, maintain the integrity and security of networks and servers, protect sensitive customer information, protect the organization from lawsuits, protect the integrity and reputation of the dealership, and ensure achievement and productivity. Security is everyone's business.
Spam and viruses are the most visible, but not the most significant security challenge. Fearing loss of valuable trade secrets and confidential company data, large and small organizations are installing firewalls to protect their networks. These firewalls will stop many, but not all of today's hacker attacks.
Hackers can take advantage of holes in a network's perimeter defenses. These points of attack are often created by employees who bypass protections by attaching modems to their PCs, setting up wireless access points without permission or downloading risky software, such as chat or file-sharing programs.
That's why security is everyone's business, and all managers and employees must understand the importance of following the dealership's established security procedures. This is especially important when employees use laptops or work from remote locations.
Keeping your networks secure from hackers is just as critical to protecting your customers' private information. Hackers target electronic databases of companies selling products on the Internet, because they often have a mountain of information from which identities can be stolen: names, addresses, credit card information, and other personal data.
Theft of customer data gets the attention of the media, and one company was hit with a class action lawsuit charging it failed to secure credit card information online. In addition to the legal exposure and negative PR, it wasn't helpful for future business development. The consequences of insecure networks has prompted tough laws in several states, most notably California, which require any business that collects data from California consumers to immediately notify every person if there is a breach of security - from any source.
What about mischief and malice by employees and coworkers? In many ways, email is ideally suited to smuggling trade secrets and valuable company data out of your organization. Leaks of important business plans can be embarrassing and costly, as Apple Computers learned when it was forced to speed up the launch of a new product due to a leak from inside.
And, intentional disclosure of secrets can cost a lot more. A scandal involving nuclear secrets leaked from the U.S. Department of Energy's lab at Los Alamos underscores the security risks inherent in email. Investigators found evidence that email was the critical component in the theft of top secret data about how to fabricate smaller nuclear warheads.
A comprehensive e-security plan should address internal threats that are as dangerous as attacks from outside. Identifying internal threats is the first step. The combination of email overload and careless attachments is one risk; intentional stealing from internal electronic files by email attachment is quite another.
Whether accidental or deliberate, breaches of confidentiality can erode customer and employee confidence, cost jobs and devastate your organization.Information security requires effective policies and consistent enforcement. It is imperative that all employees know and understand their roles in security. Following are strategies you can put into practice immediately.
Why Information Security?
Information security is designed to prevent unauthorized access or damage to hardware, software, and data. This encompasses misuse, malicious or accidental damage, vandalism, intentional intrusion, fraud, theft and sabotage to information resources.
The purpose of information security is to safeguard information resources. Information resources include all company hardware, software, and data in both electronic and hardcopy formats.
The job of protecting hardware, software and data (hard- and soft-copy) from abuse is shared by all users - employees, contractors, management, administrative staff, and customers. Make it the responsibility of every system and information user to read, understand, and comply with your Corporate Information Security Policy and all associated information security policies and procedures.
Post the essential provisions on the company Intranet and include them in hard copy in your Employee Handbook.
Your Information Systems Depart-ment should manage information security standards, procedures, and controls intended to minimize the risk of loss, damage, or misuse of your organization's data. They should develop policies:
- Establishing and maintaining policies, procedures, and access standards.
- Securing information managed by the company and implementing access to authorized persons.
- Assisting data custodians in identifying and evaluating security risks.
- Selecting, implementing, and administering controls and procedures to manage information security risks.
- Distributing security report information in a timely manner to management, data custodians, and appropriate system administrators.
- Serving as the focal point for reviewing data security issues that have company-wide impact.
- Promoting security awareness with all employees through training.
End-users, including contractors and vendors, accessing company data should be personally responsible for proper use of the available information. Company employees who access
data must be responsible for:
- Complying with all information security policies and procedures in the use, storage, dissemination, and disposal of data.
- Protecting data from unauthorized access.
- Reporting information security violations to supervisors.
Due to the value and sensitive nature of the company's data and customer information, employees must exercise caution and care in their jobs and adhere to all company information security policies and procedures.
In order to effectively communicate this policy and emphasize the importance placed on the confidentiality of data and software, all employees should be required to sign a Data Confidentiality Statement on an annual basis. New employees should sign the statement prior to being hired.
Data Security/Individual Privacy
Security measures should be strictly observed by all system users to protect critical or sensitive data files from accidental or intentional disclosure to unauthorized users.
The dealership should safeguard accounts and passwords - reserving the right to monitor and review all system activities performed by system users and notify users that they do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their computer files, including e-mail.
All users should be required to report instances of security violations, including unauthorized or attempted intrusion.
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