Discover how to stay ahead of security threats and protect your business
Do you ever feel as if you’re under attack? As a business owner, one of your constant fears may be a security breach that could negatively affect your company. Consider the harm that was recently done to Ashley Madison. The website that promotes having an affair was recently hacked, with users falling prey to personal information being leaked to the public.
While your particular business may not be a “dating” website, you still may run the risk of being targeted, and therefore should discover how to avoid certain threats. You may never find yourself actually needing protection, but isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?
Watch out for angry employees
Believe it or not, internal attacks are one of the biggest threats that face your data and systems—be careful who you trust.
Employees (especially those in the IT department) who have knowledge of your company’s networks, data centers and admin accounts can cause a lot of damage. You remember the Sony hack that took place last December. Did North Korea really breach the system? Or was it an inside job?
To avoid this situation, it will be important to identify all of your privileged accounts and credentials and terminate any and all that are no longer in use or connected to employees that are no longer with the company. As well, you should closely monitor, control and manage these privileged credentials to avoid possible exploitation.
Watch out for mobile devices
If employees are using personal mobile devices to share data, access company information or neglect to change passwords, then data theft becomes quite possible. Referred to as “BYOD”—Bring Your Own Data—companies who allow this can risk exposure from devices on the corporate network when an app installs malware or other Trojan software that can access the network connection.
To protect your company, make sure you have a policy in place for the BYOD method. Employees need to be educated on this policy, understanding what can and cannot be done on their own devices while at work. Companies should also monitor emails and documents that are downloaded, as well as implement mobile security solutions.
Watch out for third-party service providers
Some companies rely on outsourcing and vendors to help support and maintain certain systems. For example, restaurant franchisees often outsource the maintenance and management of their point-of-sale systems to a third-party service provider. Unfortunately, these third parties use remote access tools to connect to the company’s network, but don’t necessarily follow appropriate security measures. This can result in hackers gaining passwords to various networks.
When employing third-party providers, make sure that the best security measures are practiced. It’s also a good idea to enforce multifactor authentication, such as requiring unique credentials for each user. And don’t forget to disable third-party accounts as soon as they are no longer being used.
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Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.