Avoid a Wipeout and Losing All Your Data

In 1963, The Surfaris’ instrumental 12‑bar blues tune called “Wipe Out,” spent four months on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.  You may not recognize the title, but you may recall the sound of a breaking surfboard and the laugh:  “Ha ha ha ha ha ha, Wipe Out!”  and of course, the iconic drum solo.  This was the only big hit from this California-based 1‑Hit Wonder band.

A “wipeout” was coined in the early 60s California surf scene to describe a particularly spectacular fall from a surfboard.  Over time, it has come to describe many failures including business failures.  Organizations and entrepreneurial wipeouts can be the result of poor decision making when it comes to Information Technology.  There are a number of threats out there that executives need to be aware of and mitigate against.

Here are some recommendations that will help.

  • Avoid isolated silos with regard to systems and data. Technology is used in every business area today.  The key to reducing your risk is to ensure that your IT infrastructure, which is a complex system, works together easily—with all parts up to date and synchronous.  All key personnel should be measured on their ability to make sure all parts work as a whole and are modified as things evolve.
  • Protect against threats of all types. Be careful in allowing any application into your environment.  We often recommend the Zero Trust strategy which allows only pre-approved software and hardware to exist anywhere in your network.  The threat of ransomware and attacks is literally at every endpoint in your network.  Take a layered approach to security beyond Zero Trust as well, equipping every machine with Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) software and back up everything…and backup the backup!
  • Educate your staff about scammers.  Conduct routine and ongoing training and testing of your staff on what social engineering schemes are out there and how to avoid falling victim to a hoax. Confirm who has been tested and retrain and retest consistently.  Cybercriminals are unrelenting and you should be too in reinforcing your defenses, especially among your workforce.  This is vital as employee mistakes are responsible for over 80% of successful breaches.
  • Beware of the disgruntled employee. There is always at least one person that for whatever reason has an axe to grind.   Ensure your HR team deploys a regimented approach to onboarding/offboarding to minimize turnover and reinforce the risks to personnel if they go outside of stated policies.  As part of that, allow file/data access only to those who need it.  Review these access permissions at least annually.  Also consider data loss prevention software that can monitor the network and identify and shut down anomalistic behavior.
  • Manage remote work. Now the norm, working from home adds additional layers of risk removing crucial barriers of protection for most networks.  That means a strategic shift from managing solely endpoint security of machines to a wider approach of managing security of all data wherever it resides.  Encrypt information end to end as it flows through your organization.  Also, policies to discourage employee use of personal devices in any way should be encouraged.

The “Wipe Out” song is all about the adventure and excitement of surfing those huge Pacific coast waves.  We suggest taking a solid approach to IT Security to ensure your business lasts and lasts… like that endless wave!  Contact us to learn more.

First published in our July 2024 IT Radix Resource newsletter