All companies have assets, things of value like buildings, equipment, cash, and other valuables. Companies protect these assets by hiring security, insuring their properties, and ensuring that these assets keep their value. Digital assets are things of value as well, except they are online. And much like physical assets, they need protection, too.
What are digital assets?
Digital assets are your valuables that exist online, on your company servers, or in the cloud. Things like your images, job aids, business processes, and documents that you store on your internal servers. Or your company’s website where you list your products and services, your customer service contact information and the like. Digital assets could also include the list of your contacts and clients. They include your Intellectual Property — patents and copyrighted materials exclusive to your company. Even your company’s social media accounts are considered digital assets.
Digital assets are valuable because they add value to your company. These are assets that are important to your investors. They can be sold, you can claim expenses against your digital assets. You can even get tax deductions from your digital assets.
Sensitive data are digital assets that when leaked to the wrong people can have dire consequences for your company. A security breach could mean a profit loss, and could have legal consequences as well. This is why keeping your digital assets secure is as important as securing your physical assets.
Protocols to protect your digital assets
The threats to the security of your digital assets do not come solely from outside your company. A lot of the time, it could be an internal human error — an employee who forgot to lock their computers, stolen company laptops and mobile devices, a corrupt link accidentally clicked by someone — things that can sometimes seem innocuous but are actually a threat to your security. Below are some key protocols that your employees need to practice to prevent a security breach.
- Practice email security
Phishing emails can appear as if they come from legitimate sources. These emails could appear to come from your bank or from a company that your business partners with often. When you don’t pay too much attention to the tiny details like the email address of the sender, you could be fooled into clicking a seemingly innocent link. And that one click could open the door to harmful spyware that could steal your digital assets.
Some people use email generators to protect their actual email addresses. As a company, you need to regularly make your employees aware of the dangers of phishing emails. You need to have a platform where they can report scam emails for your IT security team to deal with. Email security also means that your employees should not be able to send sensitive company information externally. You can do this by restricting outgoing emails.
- Security education program
You can have your HR or IT security team lead a security awareness training program for your employees. Educating your employees on the importance of online security and the consequences of data breaches can go a long way in ensuring the integrity of your digital security.
The best time to introduce the security program to your employees is when they are onboarded. And they should have a refresher at least once a year to keep them abreast of any updates to your program and any new security protocols.
- Conduct timely vulnerability assessments
Vulnerability assessments (VA) test the weaknesses of the security measures that you have in place. Conducting these systemic tests allows you to examine your security system for vulnerabilities that make you susceptible to security breaches.
VAs could actually be part of regulatory compliance, depending on the type of company you have. Technology is evolving at a very fast pace and malware is evolving along with it. VAs will identify the risks in your operation and will suggest steps to mitigate these risks.
- Password security
Most people write their passwords down and then keep them on their desks or somewhere “hidden”. This is a security risk. Anyone who finds this password can use that employee’s credentials and hack into your company’s systems. Educating your employees about the proper storage of passwords is an important step in protecting your digital assets. Passwords should NEVER be shared. Not even your manager or IT security personnel should know your password. This ensures that no one can use your credentials to do harm to the company.
Your employees can use a password manager to keep their passwords secure. Another good practice is to have your employees change their passwords every few months or so. And ensure that their passwords include numbers and special characters. Encourage them to use passwords that are not easily guessed by people close to them.
The responsibility of keeping digital assets secure doesn’t just fall on your IT security team’s shoulders. It is everyone’s responsibility. Simple protocols like keeping passwords secure, scrutinizing suspicious emails, educating your employees, always checking domain security and conducting VAs play a very large role in keeping your assets secure.