In the current digital threat landscape, businesses simply cannot be too careful. Not only are cyber criminals leveraging increasingly robust and sophisticated attack strategies, but new industry regulations – including the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation – are calling for more in-depth data protection and privacy measures.
At the same time, however, mechanisms aimed at blocking unauthorized use, breaches and data theft mustn't interfere with overall user-friendliness. After all, security protections that are cumbersome, or take users a while to go through can create other risks and threats, including shadow IT processes.
In this way, developers, IT leaders and other administrators have a tall order in front of them when it comes to security and ease-of-use, requiring a very careful balancing act.
State of cyber threats and security
One factor making this issue so complex is the fact that robust and advanced cyber threats are on the rise, calling for increasingly innovative security protections to guard against them.
Consider the current state of the cyber threat landscape:
- Last year, 360,000 new malware samples were discovered each day, according to Kaspersky Lab research. This includes general malware (78 percent), viruses (14 percent) and malicious adware (8 percent).
- Rising security needs are creating three times as many open cybersecurity positions within enterprises, reaching 3.5 million jobs by 2021, CSO reported.
- Cybercrime activity will cost organizations across the globe $6 trillion each year through 2021, a rise from $3 trillion in 2015. Ransomware attacks alone will tally $11.5 billion in damages by 2019.
- At the same time, enterprises will devote more financial resources to cybersecurity. Gartner noted that global IT security spending surpassed $86.4 billion last year and will exceed $1 trillion by 2021.
With more attack strategies and malware samples being uncovered every day, IT and security leaders must work to ensure that their most critical systems are safeguarded against these kinds of intrusions. This includes the unified communications solutions specifically, as these are often used to transmit and support highly sensitive company intellectual property and other assets.
Can security get in the way of access and usability?
As security stakeholders make efforts to ensure protection, it's imperative that they consider the needs of users as well. While a layered data protection strategy is necessary and critical in the current threat landscape, it's important that these measures don't hamper streamlined access and overall usability.
"Global IT security spending surpassed $86.4 billion last year and will exceed $1 trillion by 2021."
For instance, if users feel they can't easily connect with and use a platform because of robust authentication and other protections, they may turn to shadow IT programs that include fewer hoops to jump through. However, incorporating this app into the company's infrastructure could throw a wrench in the business's overall data protection posture, and create an easy entrance for hackers to breach the network and make off sensitive information.
Road to attack
As Computerworld contributor Peter Crocker pointed out, issues can also emerge when it comes to integrated platforms – an opening or vulnerable security weakness in one app could offer a path to other sensitive solutions.
"To make our lives easier, digital experiences have become much more interconnected and the volume of personal data captured in the cloud is growing exponentially," Crocker wrote. "While these trends make us more productive, they can also make security breaches more damaging. Once a hacker gains access to one aspect of your digital life, he can easily reach across multiple applications and accounts, laying a path of destruction and heartache."
Considering the fact that only 38 percent of all global organizations feel prepared to handle such a sophisticated attack, these threats are something that enterprises of all sizes and across all industries must look to face head on.
UC solutions: Striking the ideal balance
In the realm of data security, unified communications technologies should remain a top priority. As employees leverage these to communicate and collaborate through real-time voice, video and messaging as well as file sharing and attached documents, UC systems must have the right protection in place which safeguards assets without preventing a valuable user experience.
One of the most important considerations to make here is the underlying network supporting the UC technology.
"The strength of unified communications is that it puts all of a company's electronic traffic on the same network, where it can be maintained by the same staff, rather than additional specialized telecommunication staff," wrote TechTarget contributor Joel Dubin. "But, at the same time, its weakness is that it puts all of a company's electronic traffic on the same network, where its subject to the same security weaknesses inherent in the rest of its network."
In this way, putting in place network-level security protections – including a robust firewall and network traffic monitoring – can help ensure that business's critical UC solutions and associated traffic are safeguarded against attack and intrusion.
It's also imperative that businesses partner with an experienced UC solution provider that understands the security needs of today's enterprises and can offer systems with built-in, yet user-friendly protections. Selecting a provider that has a robust service portfolio that includes on-premise as well as cloud options, alongside data protection like encryption for sensitive communications.
To find out more about ensuring security of your unified communications – including solutions created specifically with the requirements of government agencies in mind – connect with the experts at Teo Technologies today.