{{ searchResult.published_at | date:'d MMMM yyyy' }}

Loading ...
Loading ...

Enter a search term such as “mobile analytics” or browse our content using the filters above.

No_results

That’s not only a poor Scrabble score but we also couldn’t find any results matching “”.
Check your spelling or try broadening your search.

Logo_distressed

Sorry about this, there is a problem with our search at the moment.
Please try again later.

Another day, another hack.

From Sony to the IMF, the internet is starting to resemble the wild wild west as hackers assault high-profile companies and organizations.

In some cases, the hackers claim to be activists fighting back against greedy corporations. In other cases, the hackers are reportedly working on behalf of foreign governments. In almost all cases, however, the fallout is huge.

From potentially billions of dollars in losses to the release of sensitive information, it's no surprise that many companies are worried if their systems might be next.

Realistically, there's no way that a company can protect itself from every security threat on the internet. But to mitigate risk and minimize the potential harm of a hacking incident, companies should plan for the best, and prepare for the worst. Here are several tips on both fronts.

Planning for the Best

Take security seriously

The first step in planning for the best is to recognize just how important security is. If you don't, you're far more likely to have out-of-date infrastructure and software that is low-hanging fruit for would-be attackers.

Having a security strategy in place, and making sure it's followed, won't completely eliminate risk, but taking basic preventative measures (like applying security patches on a regular basis) puts you one step ahead of other targets.

Don't store data you don't need

This seems like common sense advice, but common sense isn't always so common. Data is good, obviously, which is why many companies try to collect as much of it as they can, even if they're not sure how to use it yet.

But the more data you have on a server somewhere, the more enticing that server potentially is to an attacker. By thinking strategically about the data you store, you can minimize the risk that you'll be at the center of an embarrassing and painful media blitz.

Fire any developer who stores passwords in plain text

Many companies that have been hacked have suffered immensely because they didn't properly protect user passwords. At the end of the day, there's no excuse for this. No password should ever be stored in plain text.

Going further, it's also a bad idea to encrypt passwords with a key that could also be compromised. In other words, techniques such as strong one-way hashing, salting and password-based key derivation should be required whenever passwords are stored.

Preparing for the Worst

Recognize that you can, and probably will be, hacked

Your company could do 999 things right, and a hacker only needs you to do one thing wrong to compromise your systems. In other words, the odds are against you, no matter how good you are.

That means coming to grips with reality: at some point you will almost certainly face a breach of some sort.

Establish relationships before you're hacked

Cleaning up from a major hack can be a nasty experience. From trying to trace the culprits to ensuring the integrity of all the systems which may have been compromised, expertise is generally required.

Knowing who you're going to call if and when you need that expertise is crucial to minimizing the harm to your business and stakeholders.

Have a response plan in place

Being hacked is never fun, but responding quickly and competently is important. At a minimum, being able to reassure those affected by any breach that their most valuable information (passwords, credit card numbers, etc.) was not compromised (because it wasn't stored or was stored properly) is huge.

Think about insurance

It's not surprising that the recent spate of hacking incidents has sparked demand for cybersecurity insurance policies. For some companies, these policies are worth a look, even if they're no panacea.

Patricio Robles

Published 15 June, 2011 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2390 more posts from this author

Comments (1)

Avatar-blank-50x50

rajib roy

"Fire any developer who stores passwords in plain text" It is a rubbish article.

about 5 years ago

Comment
No-profile-pic
Save or Cancel
Daily_pulse_signup_wide

Enjoying this article?

Get more just like this, delivered to your inbox.

Keep up to date with the latest analysis, inspiration and learning from the Econsultancy blog with our free Daily Pulse newsletter. Each weekday, you ll receive a hand-picked digest of the latest and greatest articles, as well as snippets of new market data, best practice guides and trends research.