Understanding the concept of digital security

Digital security, also known as cybersecurity, is increasingly important today for individuals and organisations. Cyber attacks can have a considerable impact on a companies reputation and the level of trust that customers have in that organisation. A breach of security can also cause substantial financial loss. Technology has helped companies speed up and automate tasks, but it has also enabled third parties with malicious intent to steal data. Protecting information and increasing digital security has never been more important. In this article, we review what digital security is and what you need need to know to implement cybersecurity solutions, including:

  • Digital security systems
  • What is the importance of digital security for companies?
  • Which departments need to be aware of digital security measures?
  • How to start implementing digital security?
  • How to create a Security Council?
  • What are the UK regulations on data security?
  • How do electronic signatures make information more secure?

Digital security: what is it?

Digital security protects the physical and digital infrastructure related to technology and provides a protection layer for digital information. There are a number of tools and techniques available to protect an organisation from a cyberattack, although the landscape is constantly evolving. Organisations can establish practices to protect files and prevent data that is at risk from being transported, transferred or stored for any reason. Here are some of the most common threats to digital security:

Cybercrime

Cybercrime occurs all over the world, using illegal channels and password theft, ‘hackers’ gain access to valuable information from individuals and organisations and aim to profit from criminal behaviour. Often attacks can cause the loss of control of equipment or devices, and hackers seek to extort money from owners in exchange for regaining control.

Cyberterrorism

The illegal use of software to steal or intercept information and use that information to instil fear in others, whether that’s the public, individuals, or governments. Sometimes these attacks have a political intention behind them with the aim to intercept information that could compromise a political party, a government or an individual. There have been a number of cases where sensitive information has been leaked. Digital security threats can be caused by:

  • Viruses and malicious programmes designed to cause problems such as Trojans.
  • Programming errors that have the possibility of being used by third parties for suspicious purposes.
  • Digital intruders or people who manage to enter the data in an unauthorised manner.
  • Losses such as theft, floods, fires or loss of materials, files or devices.

How important is digital security for companies?

Protecting data and information is vital for organisations and essential for protecting assets. For an efficient and secure operation, organisations need to train teams to follow safe processes and to use digital security systems that can defend against cybersecurity threats and actions. So how can you ensure your organisation is protected against cyberattacks?

Digital Security Systems

Different types of digital security can provide the protection you need, and they are grouped into three broad sectors:

Software

These computer programmes use encryption and protocols to protect against hackers, data leaks and cyberattacks. This type of security can protect data, identification, access, modification and data transfer. The type of protection could include:

  • Firewalls: Traffic monitoring tool.
  • Email security: Programs to prevent phishing or computer identity theft, including reading, studying and encrypting unencrypted passwords.
  • Pop-up Blocker: Software to stop and remove threats from unauthorised windows.

These programmes all aim to help users enjoy secure transactions and the passing of information. 

Networks

Many procedures and techniques can protect the entire network system’s security in an organisation and the data that travels in the network. It protects devices and information connected to a wireless network. Common types of network security include:

  • IDS (Intrusion Detection System): It refers to the tools and mechanisms that analyse traffic within a network to identify suspicious processes or abnormalities, reducing the risk of intruders.
  • IPS (Intrusion Prevention System): These are hardware and software devices that check traffic, identify possible threats or attacks and respond to them.
  • VPN (Virtual Private Networks): VPNs can authenticate users’ identity and prohibit access to those not authorised.

Finally, there are those physical devices that help protect all systems and guarantee the integrity of the data within them.

Hardware

These devices can provide threat and data protection when connected to a company’s central network or home. There are two devices in particular that provide this security:

  • Hardware firewall: A unit that connects the network and the Internet provider device to analyse, filter and manage traffic between the computers and network.
  • Proxy servers: The proxy server acts as an intermediary server separating end users from the websites they browse. It aims to keep users and the internal internet protected from external threats, and it can also control the websites employees view. 

What types of attacks can a company suffer?

The organisations of today face the threat of external attacks that simply didn’t exist many years ago. The rise of the Internet and the Internet of Things (IoT) has increased risk, and data has become a precious asset. 

What is a hacker looking for?

Hackers have extensive computing knowledge, which they could use for two different purposes:

  • Legally: To reinforce digital security, both for companies and state bodies.
  • Illegally: This could include the theft of data for illegitimate purposes, the violation or damage of computer equipment, identity theft, or to discredit a brand. In some cases, there can be political motivation. There could also be a potential for cyberwar. 

Here are 5 of the most common cyber attacks:

1. Spyware

This malware has the object to attack and steal information; the data is then transmitted to an external entity without the owner’s knowledge or consent. A disastrous virus could weaken and potentially collapse the structure of a company. Usually, the aim of an attack is to profit from the sale of stolen data.

2. Ransomware

Ransomware is very harmful software that hijacks data and can restrict access to key areas of an Operating System (OS). It prohibits users from accessing a device, and to solve the problem, a ransom must be paid to free the device. Ransomware is spread through Trojans or worms that can take advantage of any vulnerability in the operating system.

3. Adware

Adware is software dedicated to displaying advertising to attract user clicks. It can be inconvenient for business as information is obtained from the ads that users are consulting. Adware is not a virus-like Trojans or worms but can negatively impact user experience.

4. Phishing

Phishing spreads via email and can spread quickly; a simple email may inform the recipient that they need the information to complete or continue a process or that they have won something. The email typically provides a link that directs people to a landing page similar to a real one. When completing the data requested, users are actually sharing this data with the cybercriminals who are using it illegitimately.

5. Denial of services (DOS)

Server attackers can make multiple requests to the server until it is unable to serve them. It can then collapse, and this can cause serious financial and organisational damage. There are two ways this is done:

  • Denial of service or DoS: A single IP address or computer is used, and it consecutively launches innumerable connections to the attacked server.
  • Denial of service or DDoS: In this method, several different computers or IP addresses are used, and they make many requests to the server until it is blocked.

5 of the most common mistakes that put your digital security at risk

1. Simple passwords

Does the password "123456" sound familiar? It is not very difficult to decipher a simple password, and you should avoid using:

  • proper names;
  • consecutive letters on a keyboard, for example, "asdfghjk";
  • telephone numbers;
  • any special date;

2. Free antivirus software can be an expensive mistake

If hackers manage to hack the free software, it can be an expensive mistake.

3. Not updating equipment

Apple, and Microsoft, for example, are constantly developing software to deal with digital threats. It’s imperative that you and your team make sure you download essential updates.

4. Lack of connection via VPN

A Virtual Private Network or VPN is a service that allows remote access to the internal network of a company and to different business resources such as email servers, presentations and desktop applications like the CRM or ERP.  The network gives secure access through the internet for remote workers and those in different locations. It creates a secure encryption for users to access services and documents from anywhere. A connection to a corporate network without a VPM could risk digital security. 

5. Not having a firewall

A firewall is an integral part of a digital security strategy; it can analyse and inspect what happens inside and outside a network and determine if traffic is legitimate. It protects the organisation from external threats.

What are the departments that should have this concern?

Any department can be a target for digital security attacks, but the IT department must 

ensure that digital security procedures, analysis and reviews are in place. They may also need to conduct simulations for the different types of events and what the processes for resolution would be. This analysis could include:

  • Communications
  • Planning
  • Risk control
  • Business and Enterprise Applications
  • Customer service
  • Systems and Infrastructure.

The IT area should design the procedures and a testing plan and ensure that other teams comply with the digital security protocol. To be protected from an attack or threat, management, operations, finance and communication teams must be trained on recommended processes and tasks to protect company data.

How to start building your protection

Here are some fundamental steps you can take to establish procedures for handling data and protecting assets:

1. Train managers and employees

Security standards and procedures must be communicated to every member of staff to ensure information is handled correctly.

2. Implement security software and hardware

Optimise the digital security process for your organisation within a secure framework. All technological devices should be equipped with anti-virus and anti-spyware to provide a protective barrier from malicious software.

If you have your servers or cloud services, make sure they are up-to-date and that the cloud provides you use guarantees information is protected.

3. Develop a safety culture and policies

Protection is better than dealing with a security breach, so ensure that good digital practices are embedded into company culture and policies. This approach will help to avoid leaks or access from intruders. 

4. Understand the risks that exist

Risks like scams, corporate espionage, theft of credentials and other malicious practices can affect any organisation. If you have a single person that clicks on a malicious link with a new and unknown virus, it can all fall apart. It is essential to define the accesses and rights of each employee or partner of the company. 

5. Make backups in the cloud

The cloud is a remote information storage service that offers a good solution to further protect information. Use this service to back-up important information from all departments and ensure information is accessible to others within the organisation. 

These tips can help you to ensure that all sensitive business data is protected from malicious intent. It’s essential to establish a culture of digital security and a work dynamic that studies and monitors these aspects.

How to create a Security Council?

Digital security is essential to any organisation, and a Security Council can act as a safeguard against hackers and cyberattacks. 

1. Highly trained personnel

It’s vital that those involved with digital security are experienced and highly trained to create digitally secure processes and protect data.

2. Planning

It is recommended that a detailed plan is created that includes the mission, vision and values or security for the organisation along with key roles and how those roles will be performed.

3. Execution

The main focus of this council is to protect the organisation’s data and systems and to implement agreed processes. It is vital to train members of the Security Council continuously.

4. Cloud storage

The council should make critical decisions around data protection and storage, including protocol and cloud software and storage policies. 

5. Meetings and reports

It’s recommended that the members responsible for digital security meet regularly and inform the board or the organisation of any actions and decisions made in relation to the organisation’s security. 

What are the UK regulations on data security?

There isn’t an overarching cybersecurity law in the UK, but there are laws that have cybersecurity obligations that apply to all businesses and regulations that apply to specific businesses in specific sectors. The National Cyber Security Centre was launched in 2016 with the aim of making the UK the safest place to live and work online. The organisation supports the most critical organisations in the UK, the wider public sector, industry, SMEs as well as the general public with cybersecurity. Cyber Essentials is a simple government-backed scheme that helps organisations protect themselves against cyber attacks. From 1 April 2020, IASME Consortium took over the running of the Cyber Essentials scheme on behalf of the NCSC. If your organisation wants to work on central government contracts that involve handling sensitive and personal information, Cyber Essentials Certification is required. 

There is also legislation in place that applies to businesses in the UK for the protection of data. This includes the General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR. Following Brexit, EU data protection law has been converted into UK domestic law with minor technical amendments, but UK and EU data protection law are aligned. Full and up to date information can be found on the Information Commissioners Office website. 

The Network and Information Security Regulations 2018 is also relevant, as is the Computer Misuse Act and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Directive. Businesses providing electronic communications services have specific obligations to implement technical and organisational measures to appropriately manage risks to the network and services. Financial services have sector-specific requirements as outlined in the Financial Conduct Authority Handbook

UK regulations are in place to protect electronic commerce, electronic signatures, data protection and the right to information. All of the regulations have the objective of protecting the public and private organisations.

Do electronic signatures make information more secure?

Organisations around the world are using electronic signature services for digital contracts and agreements. There are a number of ways electronic signatures can keep information safe. 

Robust security

Electronic Signature software often meets some of the most stringent international security standards. The software may comply with industry-recognised standards, such as SOC 1, SOC 2, and ISO 27001. 

Global acceptance

Electronic signatures are now used by millions of people worldwide and comply with multiple legal laws in many countries. In the UK, electronic signatures are legal. DocuSign eSignature helps to meet electronic signature legal requirements.

Availability

Leading electronic signature providers provide a robust security infrastructure that delivers high availability so that processes, agreements and transactions aren’t compromised. 

Electronic Signature Security

DocuSign eSignature meets some of the most stringent global security standards and uses the strongest data encryption technologies available to maximise the security of data in transit. DocuSign also has teams of trained professionals available to monitor and respond to any potential security issues. DocuSign works diligently to stay ahead of security and privacy frameworks around the world and has rigorous digital security and privacy standards.

DocuSign is the leading electronic signature supplier, and the DocuSign Agreement Cloud can help your organisation with safe and secure software solutions. 

Published