Balancing top-tier IT services with appropriate risk management

With devices and services in the information technology field growing and changing at an exponential rate, risk management is a vital part of a business’ growth strategy. Understanding how implementing new IT systems and hardware can place confidential information at risk of leaking to unauthorized staff or individuals outside of the organisation is critical, as risk mitigation strategies can then be considered in parallel to the process of IT roll out. However in reality many companies do not practise risk management the way that they should. For example, in 2010 IBM conducted a study which surveyed IT professionals, and found that as much as a third of respondents felt that their IT risk mitigation processes were inadequate. This is underscored by a recent example where a clinic in London accidentally sent out the names and email addresses of 780 people with HIV when a newsletter was issued to clinic patients, breaking doctor-patient confidentially on a large scale and permanently tarnishing the reputation of the clinic.

However, as tempting as it may be to err on the side of caution, IT is part of the lifeblood of a company. Mobile devices that can connect remotely to company servers or the cloud allow people to work from any location. Networked hardware such as multifunction printers makes it easy and efficient to print from and scan to numerous devices. Inevitably, investing in technology that provides value and productivity must be balanced with the inherent risk. Too little risk management creates the potential for security breaches, however trying to eliminate all risk can hobble a business.

risk management and ITCompanies who are adept at striking this balance perform risk evaluation as an integrated part of their IT strategy. Data-driven risks – such as issues with information storage, data corruption, potential for leaks, and issues with networking – have a high chance of occurring and thus should be given significant attention. Both software and hardware options come with various features that can be used to control risk and this should be considered when choosing new office technology. For example, while multifunction printers retain large amounts of data generated from copy/print/scan/fax jobs in internal storage, Sharp multifunction printers have multi-layered security features that are designed to give business owners peace of mind. These include user authentication capability that prevent unauthorised users from accessing networked machines; IP security protocols that encrypt data being communicated over the internet; document control functions that embed copy-prevention data into confidential documents so that they cannot be printed, scanned or faxed, and encrypting PDFs so that they cannot be opened without a password; the ability to print tracking information on documents; and a data initialisation function that completely erases a hard drive when a device is due to be replaced.

Print management software such as PaperCut is also an option. This software not only allows management and analysis of print jobs via a web-based dashboard, which can be used to eliminate unnecessary waste and bring down costs, but it also helps to protect sensitive documents by requiring a password to release documents, helps to secure devices with user authentication and watermarks or adds digital signatures to documents.

Also consider having a policy regarding personal mobile devices. Bring your own device (BYOD) means that employees can work remotely and flexibly but this could compromise data security. For example, be aware of apps that may be installed on such devices that could mine data and consider using a mobile device management system such as air-watch that allows you to remotely wipe a device in case of a theft, assign profiles that restrict access to websites and apps and encrypts email.

For more information on cutting-edge Sharp office automation technology that can make your business highly productive without putting your data at risk, visit our website.

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