Managing Blind Spots

Managing Unknowns in IT

Running a business is challenging and there are many unknowns, and if you are not careful, they will catch you at the most inopportune moments.  Join our discussion of how "Blind Spots" can disrupt your ability to manage the risks found within Information Technology.

Define Not Only Your Organizational Structure But Responsibilities Too

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

~ From the 5P's of Success

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Originally published through the opens in a new windowTampa Bay Business Journal Leadership Trust

Running a business has often been compared to running a marathon. You can sprint for a time, but you soon realize that this is going to be a long, hard-fought race, and it is best to pace yourself. On your journey, you will face a variety of challenges and opportunities. The terrain will vary, and it quickly becomes impossible to take in all the sights or to preempt the variety of surprises you will face.

Blind spots can catch you off guard and unaware. Blind spots are those situations you just did not see coming. An occasional blind spot here and there is to be expected, but if you find that you are often caught off guard, you need to assess why that’s happening. Sometimes a blind spot can be chalked up to a learning experience, and at other times you need to recognize it was due to a lack of experience. Whatever the reason you did not see something coming, making a commitment to ongoing learning and growth is crucial to your continued success.

Cybersecurity is one of those functional areas that often takes business owners by surprise. I have heard more than a few business owners who were experiencing system outages say that it could not have happened at a worse time. Few businesses exist in our society that are not deeply dependent on technology, yet few have grasped the importance of treating technology as a foundational pillar within their respective operations. If you are not convinced of the importance of IT in your business, imagine going a day without internet access. IT governance and the acceptance of it as an executive priority is especially important with the many technological threat vectors that exist today.

One lesson to learn quickly is that the safety of your organization as it relates to technology is not a core responsibility of your IT team — it is the responsibility of every team member who has access to your system and network. It is true that raw technology can shield you from the negative effects of a variety of cybersecurity threats, but it cannot replace the value that comes from responsible and well-trained employees. Many threats evolve quickly, and it is important for your employee base to be on the lookout.

In most cases, threats are introduced into your system and networks through your own employees. Few malware tools can penetrate systems without the aid of internal employees. Therefore, you should require your staff to take cybersecurity seriously. People are your greatest asset in the fight to protect your IT systems, and providing them with training on how to avoid falling victim is crucial to keeping your systems safe.

Employees should be cautious to only navigate to websites necessary to perform their job functions. Email attachments should only be opened from reliable sources. If an email looks suspicious, it likely is suspicious. If your IT provider is recommending upgrades to outdated networks and operating systems, it is important to listen to that advice. Cybersecurity threats evolve constantly, and outdated hardware and software were not built to handle the variety of current technical threats your business will face.

Work with your IT provider to identify the tools that you can use to not only properly protect your systems but also to train and inform your employees. From tools that help deliver education to very active processes that can help test the knowledge of your employee base, there are cost-effective ways to ensure your employees are well prepared to defend against technical and social engineering threats found in our environment today.