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Is Your Communication Secure? 6 Tips for Secure Conversation

6 Tips for Secure Conversation

All businesses need secure communications. High-level corporations have secrets ranging from classified government contracts to research and development results. But, large organizations aren’t the only ones that need to be cautious of their communication strategies, even small businesses have confidential information that are for their eyes only. Whatever level you’re playing at, these 6 tips can help you keep unwanted eyes and ears off your private conversations.

Here are 6 tips to keep your communication secure:

1. Practice Cell Phone Discipline

This is especially important for the growing number of companies that are moving away from landline communication. Cellular phones are essentially radio transmitters, and can be monitored by tech-savvy interlopers. Don’t say anything on a cell phone you wouldn’t shout in your local bar.

2. Know (and Observe) the Law

Some industries, most notably healthcare and computing, are subject to federal and local regulations that determine how secure they must keep their communications. Understanding those laws not only keeps you out of trouble, but often defines best practices for securing communications in that area too.

3. Set Clear Policies

Have a written policy about how all employees are expected to handle secure communication. For best results, have that policy apply to all communication, secure or otherwise. This builds good habits and protects you when an innocuous exchange becomes a security risk. Use this to build good communication discipline, and to give you leverage in the event you need to let an employee go for poor security habits.

4. Use Encryption

Encryption is cheap or free, and relatively easy to use for email and other electronic communications. It’s not perfect security at the low-end price point, but it will certainly do its part “keeping honest people honest” by locking out those who aren’t supposed to be part of the conversation.

5. Enforce Sensible Passwords

You would be amazed by how many of your employees use “password” or other obvious words and phrases as their password. Whether you set a formal policy or code your interfaces so only strong passwords work, enforcing a password policy is crucial to secure communication. For example, requiring employees to change passwords at least once a quarter.

6. Watch the Back Door

And the front door. And any other physical aspect that can compromise communication security. This runs the gamut from locking the door to your server rooms, to storing sensitive files intelligently, to closing the door when you take a private conversation.

Communication security is serious business, but misfortune is one of the best teachers.

Do you have any stories about communication security disasters? What can we all learn from them? Share in the comments below.

  • John Kinsella

    Glad you guys are bringing this up, but you could mention a lot more.

    Every company should have a security policy – might want to point out links to sample documents online like the ones SANS offers.

    “Use encryption” is way too vague – encryption at rest or in transit? What is good encryption and what is bad? PGP is great but not really easy to use, winzip is easy to use but not really secure. Users need an easy to use but secure solution…

    Regarding passwords, should probably mention using a password safe with a password generator. This makes it easy to keep unique passwords for each site without having to memorize them.

  • Dick Wagner

    Thanks for the reminder about cell phone security and privacy. We routinely give our credit card info – often ALL the critical details over the cell phone. With the technology readily available to crooks, it is easy for them them to steal that data.

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