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Bolstering cybersecurity in the age of unified communications

The benefits of integrating multiple communications portals under one platform have not been lost on businesses. This is reflected in current projections regarding the future of the Unified Communications market. Grand View Research has forecasted that UC market value will hit $75.81 billion by 2020. Trends such as cloud computing, enterprise mobility and bring your own device will all help play a role in this growth, as more employees relish in the ability to work remotely and on devices of their choosing.

But not all is well in the enterprise. As the UC market experiences growth, the cyberthreat landscape is becoming increasingly foreboding. Hackers will exploit any and all gateways into a system; this includes the manipulation of communications portals used by employees, for example, in the form of email phishing scams.

Defending against internal threats

On a regular day at the office, employees may visit hundreds of websites, open thousands of emails and download multiple documents and files. Hyperlinks and documents may be shared between several employees in one email thread, or accessed over the course of the day via a shared drive. As these routine processes unfold, unseen threats lurk around every virtual corner. Best practices can help curtail cyber risks, but not all employees abide by them. Failure to do so, either out of ignorance, carelessness or malice, is also sometimes known as a natural byproduct of shadow IT.

In a more perfect world, cybercriminals would represent the only threat to a business’ network, but unfortunately, the threat of shadow IT is on the rise. This has created a need for computer monitoring and application control software.

Rather than trying police employees, the purpose of computer monitoring is to get a better understanding of user behavior so that IT departments can address risks and nip potentially harmful activity in the bud. This is especially important in a well-connected office environment in which there is a high concentration of shared resources, such as email inboxes, network drives and documents. UC helps employees stay in touch and collaborate across these portals seamlessly; however, it also creates very clear avenues for malware and other cyberthreats to flow through. This means that if one device on the network becomes infected, the threat can very quickly proliferate the network and infiltrate other devices.

Therefore, understanding and mitigating potential risks is essential in an office environment. A variety of tools exists that can help eliminate the risks of shadow IT – unintentional or otherwise. Among them is application whitelisting software, which gives network administrators the ability to vet software that employees may want to introduce to a system.

Handling shadow IT in this manner gives employees the freedom to work in the way that is best for them, without accidentally introducing a cyberthreat to the system, perhaps by downloading from an unauthorized source. After all, even the most seemingly innocuous software, such as Google Chrome, can be malware in disguise.

When all else fails, there’s reboot to restore

There are situations in which the layered security put in place by IT departments will somehow succumb to a cyberthreat – and it’s not just because of shadow IT. Hackers are more sophisticated than ever and it’s becoming easier for them to slip by even the most vigilant employees. For example, imagine that an email account of a demanding client is hijacked. This client may share a PDF with the employee who usually helps him or her. And without thinking anything of it, the employee might download this PDF or open it – that’s all it takes sometimes to install malware onto a machine via email, which is one of the most commonly used UC tools.

Thus, there is no such thing as failsafe, preventative cybersecurity. Every enterprise must have a backup plan for when preventative defenses fail, and one of the best is system restore and recovery. Restore software that can be activated by a simple reboot prevents long, time-consuming re-imaging processes, so that even in the event of a successful intrusion, IT departments can get the system back online fast. Deep Freeze from Faronics is a prime example of a solution that supplies reboot to restore capabilities.

At the end of the day, it’s impossible to completely guard against a network intrusion. Thus, the true purpose of layered security is not to just prevent an attack, but to provide a solution for when a business gets blindsided. That’s exactly what Deep Freeze does.

About The Author

Scott Cornell

When he’s not knee deep in blogging and all things tech, Scott spends his free time playing ultimate Frisbee and watching foreign films. An expert in emerging tech trends, Scott always has his ear to ground for breaking news related to IT security.

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