The construction industry in the 21st Century has quickly evolved to embrace digital technology at every level. The valuable data generated by that technology is used to integrate workflows between designers, engineers, contractors, and owners. Software companies such as Buildsoft are streamlining the traditional methods of designing, estimating, comparing multiple quotes from subcontractors and suppliers, and quantity surveying. But technology dependence has moved even deeper into the day-to-day business operations of construction companies.
Bankers and surety underwriters now rely on accurate Work in Progress (WIP) reports which are expected to be generated and stored digitally. As this report at Contractor Center Point notes "Surety underwriters, on a per job basis, want to see the original contract amount, revised contract amount (takes into account any approved change orders), original estimated cost on a given project, and the original estimated gross profit."
The digitally generated WIP report has become the yardstick for a construction company's financial success, and a company's competence is frequently judged not only by the advanced software they use but by their ability to manage and secure proprietary digital data. Construction software providers such as ComputerEase like to say that the data gathered and analyzed allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of your business. The more a company relies on digital technology, the more valuable their data is to ensuring profitability and vigorous growth, not to mention managing day-to-day operations.
Now imagine that all of that essential data is corrupted, sold to unscrupulous competitors on the darknet, or held for ransom? We think the wrecking ball analogy is quite appropriate.
Cyber-Crime and the High Cost of Data Breaches
In this age of ever-increasing cyber-crime, if the data is valuable to your company, it is also valuable to the malicious actors and hackers who will make your data their target. They are the collective wrecking ball which can bring businesses to a halt. IBM Security reports that in 2018 the average cost of a data breach is up 6.4% to $3.86 million. The average cost of a single lost record containing confidential information is up 4.8% to $148.
In the computer industry, the watchwords concerning data breaches are "It's not a question of if but when." At Total Computer Solutions, we've developed the strategies and defenses every business can apply to safeguard their digital operations.
1. Develop Company-Wide Security Best Practices
These are the fundamental best security practices to prevent data breaches which everyone from the temporary summer help to the CEO should use including:
- Strong passwords which are changed regularly. Check out Symantec's criteria for strong passwords.
- Avoid keeping multiple digital copies of sensitive files.
- Manage all mobile devices and establish firm BYOD policies, especially browser storage of passwords.
- Update software and anti-virus programs regularly
2. Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Construction companies tend to have operations dispersed over a wide geographical range. IP addresses are vulnerable to hacking when employees are communicating over the Internet. A VPN can close this gate which hackers can use to penetrate your network. VPNs use encryption and other security features for safe transmission over the Internet, creating a secure "tunnel" which only authorized users can access and preventing company data from being intercepted.
3. Use the Cloud For Data Storage and Encryption
Cloud encryption has advanced over the years to make cloud storage of sensitive data a popular choice for businesses. The cloud uses robust authentication protocols to secure sensitive data. Cloud providers combine the resources of all the organizations which use their server facilities enabling them to afford the most advanced encryption and security technologies. For a construction company requiring connections across various projects and locations, cloud storage is usually a better option than maintaining physical servers which need constant upgrading and maintenance. You can read more about Total Computer Solutions cloud services here.
4. Limit Access With Two-Factor Authentication
Limiting access to sensitive data can reduce the chance of security breaches triggered by human error. Using two-factor authentication requires two modes of identity verification. For example, a user ID and a unique generated code are both required to access sensitive data. Changing the code keeps access permissions up to date and provides timely access control when personnel changes occur.
5. Develop and Implement a Data Security Plan With TCS
At Total Computer Solutions, we use the broadest definition of security. We provide backup and data archiving services to guard against data breaches caused by hackers as well as to protect against data loss most commonly caused by equipment failure or natural disaster. We can implement anti-virus and anti-spyware to keep intruders out of your business network and show you and your employees how to detect and protect against hacking scams such as Ransomware.
If you have any doubts about the security of your construction company's valuable data or the integrity of your online business network Total Computer Solutions has effective, inexpensive ways to keep your organization secure. Contact us today for a Network Security Consultation before that wrecking ball swings your way.