27th April 2016
Unsure about IT security? Switch2IT will switch on the lights

System security or computer confusion

To provide more insight into the services Switch2IT team provides, last month we shared a case study of a system security IT project we managed at a Sussex school. But, what is system security?

In the case of Lewes Old Grammar School, it was providing an IT solution for securing the perimeter of the school and providing a safeguarding solution for visitor management. But a “system” and its so called security, as discussed here, is an umbrella term that can refer to all IT devices, services and software. “System”, it seems, is giving the Internet of Things a run for its money in the vague, all-encompassing IT jargon stakes.

The Internet Society article gives an example of a phone as a system (and phones are indeed fairly complex systems) offering myriad personal information, from family photos and email content to banking app and password manager access, that needs to be kept secure.

When you consider a device like an iPhone as a system, the importance of system security becomes crystal clear. Can you imagine how much personal data could be gleaned by a stranger if you happened to leave your phone on a bar? In a moment, everything from the names of your children to the dates you will be leaving your house empty could be in the wrong hands – Sinister, huh?! 

Data encryption factor

Encryption (scrambling data to protect it) and authentication mechanisms (like passcodes) are a vital part of IT security and we are very much with the Internet Society who says:

“Encryption is one of the more fundamental tools in the security toolbox because it is ubiquitously used to protect all sorts of communication and data, in phones, teller machines, car-keys, television boxes, DVD players, etc. Introducing vulnerabilities (back-doors) in encryption will negatively impact the ability to protect… almost any ICT system.

“The Internet Society has taken a clear stance on the utility of encryption as a fundamental building block for security and for trust: it should become the norm for Internet communication and governments should not undermine encryption and secure communication tools and technologies”.

The Switch2IT team is glad to hear, for the sake of IT security and data protection, that the FBI dropped its New York iPhone unlocking case against Apple. This came just days after the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon expressed concerns about the controversial US bill, which would hold smartphone makers accountable for decrypting data on demand.

We maintain, the stability of encryption is crucial for individuals and businesses across all sectors. How important do you consider the data protection of children and the people that work with them, for example?  

This information rights video for schools from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is aimed at those in the education sector – including teachers, school IT managers and governors – and highlights the importance of maintaining cyber security for electronic devices. Key takeaways include:

  1. Information should only be viewed by those who need to view it
  2. Staff should choose strong passwords
  3. Personal devices (such as phones and tablets) and removable media (such as USB memory sticks) should be encrypted

It is also the responsibility of the institution they are employed by when a teacher uses their own device for school work, even if that teacher leaves their position or sells their device. The ICO states that where theft or losses occur, and encryption data has not been used, a fine for up to £500,000 may follow.  

Surely, it is a good thing that schools are held accountable for the IT security of their pupils and staff, who would want it any other way? Who wants the option of a backdoor to make such information available to the highest bidder? Think about it in relation to the recent FBI/Apple cases – where will it stop?

The cloud does not compute

Is the main reason for so much confusion surrounding the encryption debate a lack of understanding when it comes to IT security and the importance of data privacy? The encryption debate, however, is as clear as code for some when compared to the implications of the cloud. Apparently, those in charge of many UK businesses cannot see the sunshine peeking through layers of cumulonimbus.

When Intel Security surveyed IT decision-makers across eight countries (the UK, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, Brazil and Australia) it was revealed that UK businesses are among those least invested in the adoption of private, hybrid and public cloud services.

While trust in the cloud is growing, it was found that around 85% of UK senior management do not fully understand the implications of storing sensitive data in the public cloud. In response, Jim Reavis, CEO of the Cloud Security Alliance, said: "The cloud is the future for businesses, governments and consumers.

"Security vendors and cloud providers must arm customers with education and tools, and cultivate strong relationships built on trust, in order to continue the adoption of cloud computing platforms. Only then can we completely benefit from the advantages of the cloud."

In research carried out by Barracuda Networks, there is a surge in businesses interested in migrating to Microsoft Office 365, with just under 50% of those surveyed planning to make the move and a quarter of those in the next 12 months. But there is something still holding many UK business owners back – concerns about IT security, yet again!

We’ll switch on the lights

The Switch2IT team has been providing excellent technical support services for over 10 years, many of which we have spent gathering valuable IT security experience and everything related, from the cloud to encryption.  

As cyber security experts, we will make sure you understand why cyber security is crucial to the success and growth of your business. As an independent company, we will also make sure you understand the pros and cons of different technical solutions so, together, we will always make the best and most informed choice about your business’ future.  We will always suggest the best systems and solutions (whether it is a fleet of devices or a specially designed package on IT services) for you and your business.

You can rest assured; we will not put you straight on the Office 365 bandwagon, unless that is the best solution for your business.  We will also make sure, whether you are using your own IT equipment in the office or someone else’s computer via the cloud, your data privacy and IT security as a whole is maintained.

Contact us today for more information about IT security and our other technical support services. Alternatively, request a quote for IT support that meets your needs from a winning team with proven cyber security calibre, you will be in safe hands.

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