Far too many executives are unaware of the security requirements and protocols for protecting their company’s data. They don’t need to become computer scientists, but they need to shed the notion that the IT Department will solve everything.
As a trained IT professional in the Armed Services, you are well aware of the priority of securing and maintaining sensitive information. When transitioning from your military career to the private sector, here’s some areas to focus on during your interviews.
Data Briefs to the Executives
It could be as simple as suggesting a briefing report from their IT Department about current risks and behaviors that are likely to create problems by the staff within the company. And once established, it’s important to get a monthly, or if they recommend it, a weekly report to stay up to date.
For example, clever companies monitor the installation of all software on company computers and laptops. Only designated software is installable. That means the executive or salesman on the road cannot install automatic password software, preventing access to the company’s data in the event of loss or theft.
Some travelers have taken to carrying two laptops: one for business, one for pleasure. Others submit software they want to add for certification by their IT department. Take it from someone who’s been there and make sure all software is approved before installation.
Cloud Storage as a Security Measure
Not everybody has heard of Marc Benioff, a former Oracle executive, who founded SalesForce.com, but he popularized the concept of rented software sitting on the cloud instead of people owning the software and placing it on their own computers. The concept of Software as a Service (SaaS) has fueled the organization since its inception in 1999. Their main focus is Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, which, by and large, runs on the cloud.
Naturally this $40 billion corporation is concerned with cybersecurity and enhanced methods of dealing with copious amounts of data. Benioff submitted a report to President George W. Bush in 2004 for the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee (PITAC) urging the government to spend an additional $90 million per year at the National Science Foundation (NSF) as well as increasing funding to DARPA and the DHS.
Benioff said the government needed to recruit and retain cybersecurity researchers and students at research institutions to double the number of specialists before the end of the decade. Even more importantly, he urged that cutting-edge cybersecurity technologies developed by the Federal government needed to be made available to the private sector as quickly as possible.
“Everybody should have security as his or her number one priority because we are in a highly dynamic environment. That is not going to change. […] I have zero arrogance when it comes to cybersecurity. I am paranoid all the time because I see all the things that are happening and I am completely worried every single day about security, and everybody should be.” – Marc Benioff
Train Executives on Obvious Security Measures
The situation has certainly improved over the last decade. Antivirus software has only gotten better; instead of having to sit for hours scanning for viruses, all of the good AV programs have what is called Resident Protection. It runs all the time and detects as soon as a virus is loaded into the memory space and takes action to contain it.
Most companies are clever enough to have anti-spyware installed as well. As above, the good versions are provided with Resident Protection. The IT department can schedule these to run full scans automatically in periods of low use, which prevent the theft of login data such as names or passwords and other personal information such as credit cards, bank accounts, or even your operating system’s registration number.
While firewalls are no replacement for antivirus software, they’re still essential. There are as many as 65,535 doors or ports into and out of a computer that are managed by your firewall. Most of them are closed most of the time. All the ports numbering lower than 1,024 are called “well-known ports” and generally have accepted uses.
Some businesspeople can spend two hours a day reading emails. Make sure the company has anti-spam software installed to minimize the amount of junk employees have to wade through in order to get to the really important content.
Automatic OS updates
No well-run company would be without automatic updates of your operating system (probably Windows). Fixed computers in the office should be automatically updated as soon as a release comes into the IT department. Wireless laptops should be programmed to check-in every time they’re turned on, and every couple of hours thereafter that they remain on.
Incremental backups should run constantly. Just as your word processor should make a copy of whatever you’re working on every 5 or 10 minutes, so should your corporate system. The loss of a $1,000,000 order because of a blackout is unacceptable.
Corporate Speak for Military Transition
Enlighten yourselves. Knowing that these systems exist, and at least the rudiments of how they work, can help you make better decisions. It can also help you avoid self-sabotaging, treacherous policy implementation. IT can usually fix mistakes, but it’s so much better not to make them in the first place.
As you transition from your military career to the private sector in an IT position, are you ready to present your knowledge and skills in the language that these companies speak? Military backgrounds are commonly associated with loyalty, dedication, and hard work but hiring managers may not see the invaluable training and skills you bring. Make sure you know the little things of IT security as well as the overall organization and importance of it.
Stewart, Cooper & Coon, has helped thousands of senior military and other personnel transition their careers and achieve significantly improved financial packages within short time frames. Contact Fred Coon – 866-883-4200, Ext. 200 or visit their LinkedIn page at www.linkedin.com/company/stewart-cooper-&-coon.