Are your systems showing signs of security breach?

For a significant proportion of chief information officers, all of the commotion surrounding the seemingly unending Snowden scandal has brought cybersecurity to the forefront of their minds.

It’s not that taking safety precautions to protect their confidential data was not a common practice before this government surveillance controversy. However, now that the incident has shed light on just how far hacking has come, CIOs everywhere are putting in the extra effort to ensure their information is hidden from prying eyes.

Now that a number of IT executives have been bitten by the cyberprotection bug, they will be resorting to any means possible to verify that their databases have not and will not experience security breaches. Even though there is a variety of software programs that can scan an IT department’s systems for incidents of hacker infiltration, some CIOs may still be unable to rest easy.

Hacking more common than thought?
Infoworld stated that these worried tech professionals have good reason for continuing to be suspicious despite these anti-malware and antivirus scans. Like everything else in this world, these programs are hardly perfect. Because scanners are flawed, they can miss signs of hacking, especially as cyberthieves use increasingly innovative techniques to access supposedly secure information.

Even though CIOs and their databases may be subject to the occasional cyberattack, the key is for them to detect it and address it as soon as possible. There are a number of tell-tale signs that show a system has been compromised. IT executives should be aware of these indicators, keeping a lookout for them so that tech staff members can take the necessary actions to foil these hacking attempts before any serious damage is done.

Perhaps the most annoying cyberattack occurs when a hacker gets into an IT professional’s system and causes random pop-ups to impede his or her computer use. When CIOs are bombarded by pop-ups just by visiting websites that they normally frequent, then this is an especially strong warning that their systems have been tainted by cybertheft activity.

As soon as the pop-up frenzy begins, tech professionals should be sure to look to see if there are any other signs of infiltration. These include mystery toolbars that have magically appeared on their browsers, in addition to having all of their searches consistently redirected to the same websites. If these are also present, CIOs should immediately uninstall any recent downloads, preventing their departments’ systems from being continuously attacked.

Cyberthieves target security tactics
Although these forms of hacking are irritating, they are not that frightening compared to others. Maybe the most jarring types of infiltration directly thwart the cybersecurity measures that a CIO has been taking to defend his or her department’s data.

If IT executives are under the impression that all of their online accounts are safe because they are protected by passwords, then they should think again. Some hackers are actually capable of changing passwords on people.

Usually, the method of choice for cyberthieves trying access an account and lock the legitimate user out of it is phishing. CIOs should be suspicious of any emails that they may receive requesting verification of log-in information. These messages often seem to originate from the legitimate site or service provider, making it tempting for a concerned IT executive to fork over the data without questioning it.

In most cases, hackers will take this information and use it to access an account themselves. They will then proceed to change a user’s password, as well as key data to ensure that the actual account subscriber won’t be able to recover it.

IT professionals should use their judgment to avoid this scenario. They know how technology works and that services tend to follow certain protocol so they should tap into this knowledge if they receive these emails. It rarely, if not never, happens that websites will ask users to provide their login information through a message. Keeping that in mind, CIOs should either ignore these emails or contact their service provider directly.

Plan, not panic
While these forms of cyberattacks are common, IT executives should not go into full-on panic mode just yet. There are a number of ways that tech departments can better guarantee that their systems are impenetrable – it simply takes a bit of proactive planning.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, it is in an organization’s best interest to verify that its IT staff members have taken the proper precautions needed to prevent cybertheft incidents. CIOs should sit down with their department representatives, assessing the existing security measures that they have in place. These tech professionals need to scrutinize every inch of their systems, attempting to pinpoint any areas susceptible to hacking.

From there, IT executives will know what they will have to do to take their protection efforts to the next level. After reviewing their budgets, they will then know which solutions are most affordable, yet can offer the data defense that their systems need. Even with upgraded safeguards, CIOs should also be sure that there is a response plan so that their staff will be aware of exactly what to do in the instant of a breach. is your place on the web for intelligent, issue driven content that helps you develop practical IT solutions and strategy.