Once upon a time, an IT department’s primary job was to make sure the printer was working and ensure employees could log in to their computers. Most work was simple; that is no longer the case today. What the IT department handles has multiplied as technology becomes more advanced and the number of devices added to the mix increases. To further complicate things, more companies are adopting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) practices.
The addition of the internet as an integral part of any business also means the IT department has a certain degree of responsibility beyond the doors of the office. The question is no longer what the IT department should be doing and more of what the IT department needs to be doing.
Learning the Different Devices
With the growth of BYOD practices, workers are apt to come in sporting fancy tablets, laptops, phones and even desktop computers. Few workers are satisfied working on a group of old Macs or Windows XP machines just because the company doesn’t want to upgrade. The response has been to let workers use what they want to get their work done. It’s a great idea, but it also means the IT department needs to be familiar with a much wider range of tools.
In order to keep things going, it’s essential IT people know how to use Apple products, Windows products, Google (Android) products and even Amazon devices such as Kindle or Fire. All of that, plus knowledge of the network, printers and basic wiring means the IT department has a lot of demands to keep up with.
Keeping the Digital Doors Locked
Hacking is a real problem for businesses both small and large. Companies maintain huge amounts of data, and hackers frequently search for vulnerabilities in the system to gain access and steal corporate and customer data.
One possibility for preventing this is hiring “white hat” hackers to break into the system and find its flaws. This is a great way to find weaknesses in the system once. Long term, the IT department may be better off integrating an automated system such as Detectify. That’s because things change with each update, and security isn’t necessarily constant.
That said, there are other measures the IT department can implement to improve security.
When it comes to securing things on the digital end, the IT department is the first line of defense. They are the ones that should be in charge of installing security software on company machines and ensuring the devices in the BYOD category are both safe and compatible. Security measures might include a few things, such as:
Education and training
Teaching your employees about the latest and greatest threats and how to deal with them is paramount to maintaining safety.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
VPNs encrypt internet connections and are vital for employees with personal devices, as they are subject to hacking outside the office.
Malware is still a major concern, and every company device should have an anti-malware service installed.
Password checks and two-factor authentication
Passwords shouldn’t contain personal or corporate information. Two-factor authentication requires an extra step to log in, ensuring greater security and a reduced likelihood of stolen accounts.
Control over access
Sometimes companies allow levels of access that are both unnecessary and inappropriate for what an employee does (the janitor doesn’t need access to the server backend login, for instance).
Creation and deletion of employee accounts
New employees will need fresh accounts created while old employees should always have their access revoked to prevent sabotage.
All of the above are jobs the IT department should be taking care of with regards to security. While creation of accounts can be handled by HR, it’s best to leave the IT department in charge of all technical matters for consistency purposes.
Preparing Disaster Relief
If the above steps to keep things going fail, the IT department needs to be ready for the worst. That could mean your company’s website being totally deleted or catastrophic power failures that wipe the drives. Hackers could infiltrate the system through some new exploit.
Whatever the case may be, the IT department should have adequate backups prepared of everything critical to the company’s functioning. Backups should be created frequently enough so as not to lose more than a few days of progress, and they should be designed to be implemented immediately.
Innovation can come from any direction. Frequently, we see it implemented as a result of orders from above. Yet, one of the best places to get new ideas and technology from is the IT department. The IT staff needs to be current on the latest tech and can be a great place to harvest new ideas.
All too frequently the IT department fails to be given the recognition it rightly deserves. Rather than limiting the IT force to what they do to maintain the business, they should be encouraged to share new ideas and look for solutions to solve the problems of employees and employers alike. If not, your business is bound to fall behind companies that are doing things this way.
Working as a Team
There’s no doubt the role of the IT department will continue to grow in standard businesses. Even companies whose focus on technology is minimal will still see the benefits of making good use of the tech people to streamline everyday processes.
So take the first step; give your IT department current and meaningful jobs. Make them an integral part of your success and you’re sure to reap the benefits.
About the Author: Faith MacAnas specializes in internet technology and security. As a blogger, she focuses on educating individuals and companies on how to make the most out of their time online without having to concern themselves with hackers or malware. To read more of Faith’s work, follow her on Twitter.