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Up In The Cloud: Security On The Ground (And At Every Elevation)
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Up In The Cloud: Security On The Ground (And At Every Elevation) - Executive Leadership Articles

Up In The Cloud: Security On The Ground (And At Every Elevation)

Executive Leadership Articles

Up In The Cloud: Security On The Ground (And At Every Elevation)

An enormous problem in far too many organizations is that the people most responsible for (and most dependent on) the security of data aren’t technically proficient enough to make wise decisions about it. While they might take time to understand the logistics of keeping the physical premises safe and secure, they can’t seem to be bothered to gain fluency in technical matters, trusting an IT department instead to do make decisions that top-level executives should be in on.

When an online university recently told remote IT employees to relocate or be fired, it made a tech decision it thought was merely a personnel decision, without understanding possible consequences. So when only one IT system adminstrator was left and the university fired that employee too, the university’s students discovered they were unable to access their school email and coursework information. The departed system admin was the only person with access to the organization’s Google account, and he informed the school that as a now-independent consultant, he required a $200,000 payment for assisting the school in recovering its access.

We tend to think of system security as a top-level, outside-in concern, defending our precious data from external forces, but data security is every employee’s job, just as workplace safety is everyone’s job. It seems obvious now that there should never be only one person with administrative access to an organization’s data or cloud setup, and it seems obvious in today’s environment that every personnel matter comes with security concerns, but it doesn’t seem to have been obvious to this university’s decision-makers.

The issue isn’t quite as simple as this--the fired employee says his fee is not a ransom but a settlement for a descrimination suit he’s bringing against the school--and the university did eventually gain access to its account, through Google’s initially reluctant help. It should be ponited out, however, that the consequences in this case are merely emails, course content, a possible $200,000, and public embarrassment. A truly malicious IT administrator in the same situation could have done terrible, irreversible damage as the only person who had access to the school’s data. There is a reason many companies fire employees one at a time with a security escort to the door: worst-case scenarios rarely come to fruition, but they do sometimes happen.

Worst-case scenarios are the business of top-level decision-makers, and they should never be entrusted wholly to one person or even one department. Security measures protecting your firm from bad guys trying to get in need also to be applied to every level in the organization, because the weakest vulnerability at even the lowest level can bring everything to an end. It’s worth repeating: security is eveyone’s job.


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Up In The Cloud: Security On The Ground (And At Every Elevation) - Executive Leadership Articles

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