As business owners and operators, focusing your attention on that which is most immediate and pressing to your company is an important leadership skill. Items that are not front and center in your mind tend to get pushed to the back where they are dealt with later. The recent news stories concerning WikiLeaks may seem like the stuff high-tech spy thrillers are made of, but there are some "teachable moments" we can use from all these headlines.
1. Attacks can come from anywhere. At some point, the senior executives from MasterCard did not consider WikiLeaks any significant threat. Once MasterCard decided not to fund WikiLeaks’ transactions, the company website found itself disabled at the hands of a coordinated denial of service attack. Today, supporters of WikiLeaks are being encouraged to download computer programs that will help launch cyber attacks against specified targets like MasterCard. We have now officially entered the age of cyber warfare.
2. What if? Now that we all know what it feels like to have our government’s secret correspondence exposed for the world to see, imagine what your company would be going through if its electronic information ended up published on the Internet for all to see. Safeguarding your company’s intellectual property is important; having a plan is crucial.
3. It’s always those closest to you. The Army private who is suspected of being the person who divulged all the information to WikiLeaks is now a textbook example of the type of internal threat organizations face every day. Statistically, data breaches are more likely to occur from within your organization than from outside. Having simple HR, internal auditing and corporate IT security policies can go a long way towards fending off an embarrassing data breach.
A WikiLeaks event may never happen to your organization. But the threats of data breach and cyber warfare are undoubtedly becoming more frequent and real every day. Organizations with even the most basic IT environments are now potential targets. The days where executives could bury their heads in the sand are now over. The stakes are the integrity and validity of your business, and there are dedicated and experienced opponents out there who can inflict real harm. Taking simple precautions now could save you a lot of headache later.
Charles Weaver is the co-founder and president of the MSPAlliance, the world’s largest professional associationand accrediting body for the Managed Services Industry. He is also the founder and CEO of Weaver & Associates, a boutique M&A firm specializing in the managed IT services industry. Author of the book “The Art of Managed Services,” Weaver has spoken at numerous conferences around the world. Baseline Magazine recently named Weaver in the top 50 Most Influential People in Business IT.