Protecting Critical Infrastructure With Secure File Sharing: Information Technology

Protecting Critical Infrastructure With Secure File Sharing: Information Technology

Critical IT infrastructure refers to the computer systems and networks that are essential to the functioning of our society. Critical infrastructure includes the networks, computer systems, and data centers that support essential services that people rely on daily, such as power grids, communication networks, financial systems, transportation systems, healthcare, and emergency services. The failure or disruption of any of these systems can have severe consequences for individuals, organizations, and entire nations.

Protecting critical infrastructure from cyberattacks is crucial, and one of the key measures that organizations can take to enhance their critical infrastructure security is by implementing secure file sharing. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of protecting a nation’s critical information technology infrastructure and the role of secure file sharing in safeguarding this infrastructure.

Potential Critical IT Infrastructure Risks

Information technology is the backbone of every nation’s critical infrastructure; hospitals, financial markets, transportation systems, electrical grids, telecommunications, water distribution, emergency services, and other systems are controlled, monitored, and maintained by information technology. Cyber threats to a nation’s critical IT infrastructure are becoming more sophisticated, and the consequences of a successful attack can be severe. Hackers can cause widespread disruption, damage, and even loss of life. In recent years, there have been numerous high-profile cyberattacks on a nation’s IT critical infrastructure, including the 2021 Microsoft Exchange Server hack, which exploited vulnerabilities in Microsoft’s email software to gain access to thousands of businesses’ email accounts. The 2020 cyberattack on SolarWinds’ Orion software platform, which allows customers to monitor and manage their IT infrastructure, including servers, networks, and applications, affected approximately 18,000 businesses and government agencies. The breach exposed information such as emails, passwords, and confidential documents, which could be used for further cyberattacks or espionage.

Critical IT infrastructure is crucially important to global operations, and its operations are interconnected with other sectors, some of which are international. The IT sector is comprised of small, medium, and large companies that have varied levels of security resources and expertise. These operations face many global threats, some of which could have significant consequences on critical functions and other elements of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Due to the IT sector’s interdependency, interconnectedness, and anonymity of actors, identifying threats, assessing vulnerabilities, and estimating consequences at the national level is difficult. Therefore, the IT sector uses a collaborative and iterative risk management approach.

The risks can broadly be classified into virtual risks and physical risks to critical IT Infrastructure.

The IT sector includes both physical assets and virtual systems and networks that provide important services to the public and private sectors. While virtual systems can provide additional resilience, there is a need to recognize the interconnectivity between cyber and physical security. Therefore, it is important for critical IT infrastructure owners and operators of all sizes to implement integrated cyber and physical security measures to enhance security and resilience.

The risks of a successful cyberattack on critical IT infrastructure can be severe and far-reaching. It can result in a breakdown of essential services such as healthcare, transportation, and communication, causing chaos and panic.

In the professional world, a lack of access to critical IT systems would disrupt many industries, including finance, healthcare, transportation, and education. Remote work and online learning would become impossible, resulting in a significant loss of productivity and potentially causing economic damage.

Additionally, it can compromise national security and expose citizens’ personal information if government IT systems are targeted. Such attacks can also result in a blackout or disruption of power grids, making it difficult for society to function. There could be severe consequences for emergency response systems, national security, and critical services like electricity, water, and healthcare, which rely on IT infrastructure to function.

Ultimately, successful cyberattacks on critical IT infrastructure can have significant economic, social, and national security consequences, emphasizing the need for robust cyber defenses and response strategies.

Cyberattack Types That Target Critical IT Infrastructure Through File Sharing

There are several types of cyberattacks that pose a threat to critical IT infrastructure, and hackers are constantly developing new techniques to bypass security measures implemented by businesses and governments.

Distributed Denial-of-Service Attacks on Critical IT Infrastructure

One of the most common types of cyberattacks is a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. In this type of attack, the hacker floods a website, machine, or network with traffic, overwhelming the system and causing it to shut down. DDoS attacks can be launched from a single computer, but they are often carried out using a botnet, which is a network of computers that have been infected with malware and can be controlled remotely.

Ransomware Attacks on Critical IT Infrastructure

Another type of cyberattack is a ransomware attack, in which a hacker gains access to a system and encrypts the data, demanding payment in exchange for the decryption key. Ransomware attacks can be devastating, as they can cause data loss and prevent critical systems from functioning properly.

Advanced Persistent Threats on Critical IT Infrastructure

Advanced persistent threats (APTs) are a more sophisticated type of cyberattack that target critical IT infrastructure. These attacks are typically carried out by state-sponsored hackers or criminal organizations and involve a prolonged effort to gain access to a system undetected. Once the hacker gains access, they can steal sensitive information, manipulate data, or cause system failures.

Malware Attacks on Critical IT Infrastructure

A malware attack is another type of cyberattack that poses a serious threat to critical IT infrastructure. is malicious code hackers design and use to infiltrate a system. Malware is used to steal data, disrupt a system, or install other types of malware.

Social Engineering Attacks on Critical IT Infrastructure

Social engineering attacks are another type of cyberattack that target employees rather than the critical IT infrastructure directly. These attacks can involve phishing or whaling emails, where the hacker sends an email that appears to be from a trusted source and asks the recipient to click on a link or provide sensitive information like access credentials for systems containing sensitive information. Social engineering attacks can be particularly effective, as they rely on human error rather than technical vulnerabilities.

Secure File Sharing’s Role in Critical IT Infrastructure Protection

Secure file sharing refers to the process of sharing files containing personally identifiable information and protected health information (PII/PHI), contracts, financial documents, and intellectual property in a way that ensures confidentiality, integrity, and availability. This means that the files are protected from unauthorized access, alteration, or deletion, and that they can be accessed by authorized users when needed. Secure file sharing typically involves using encryption, access controls, and other security measures to protect emails and files.

The use of secure file sharing solutions has become an essential part of operations for organizations and government agencies involved in critical IT infrastructure. Private and public sector organizations rely on these solutions to share confidential content with employees, partners, customers, regulators, and other trusted third parties. Traditional file-sharing methods such as email and USB drives are no longer secure enough to protect sensitive information or demonstrate regulatory compliance with data privacy laws designed to protect sensitive information.

Organizations involved in critical IT infrastructure need to utilize secure file sharing solutions to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their sensitive content, including utilization reports, configuration settings, and even software code. Secure file sharing solutions therefore provide end-to-end encryption, identity and access management, zero trust architecture, and other critical secure file sharing requirements to protect against data breaches and unauthorized access.

How Secure File Sharing Protects Critical IT Infrastructure

Secure file sharing can protect critical IT infrastructure by providing a secure way to share files and collaborate on important projects without compromising the security of the information being sent, received, shared, or stored. This is especially important for organizations engaged in critical IT infrastructure, which is a prime target for cyberattacks.

Secure file sharing solutions typically use encryption to protect files in transit and at rest, ensuring that only authorized individuals, namely intended recipients, can access the information. These solutions also often have granular access controls, allowing administrators to specify who has access to what files, what actions they can perform with those files, and for how long before access expires.

By implementing secure file sharing in critical IT infrastructure protection, organizations can mitigate the risks associated with unauthorized access to sensitive content. It can also prevent the accidental sharing of sensitive files and help maintain regulatory compliance.

Benefits of Secure File Sharing for Critical IT Infrastructure Organizations

Secure file sharing is not only an essential tool for protecting critical IT infrastructure, but it also offers a wide range of benefits for IT companies. Here are some of the key benefits of secure file sharing for IT companies to protect their critical infrastructure:

Enhanced Security Measures for Critical IT Infrastructure

Secure file sharing solutions provide enhanced security measures that help protect critical IT infrastructure from cyberattacks. These solutions use encryption to secure files in transit and at rest, ensuring that only authorized individuals can access the information. This helps prevent data breaches and unauthorized access to sensitive information.

In addition to encryption, secure file sharing solutions often have granular access controls that allow administrators to specify who has access to what files and what actions they can perform with those files. This ensures that sensitive information is only accessed by those who need it, further reducing the risk of data breaches.

Efficient Collaboration for Critical IT Infrastructure

Secure file sharing solutions also provide a centralized location for collaboration, allowing teams to work together on projects in real time. This can help streamline workflows and improve efficiency, while still maintaining security and control over the information being shared.

Collaboration features such as commenting, versioning, and real-time co-editing can help teams work together more effectively and efficiently, ensuring that projects are completed on time.

Regulatory Compliance for Critical IT Infrastructure

Many industries are subject to strict data privacy regulations, and critical IT infrastructure organizations are no exception. Secure file sharing solutions help ensure that companies remain compliant with regulations such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), among others.

Secure file sharing solutions often have compliance features like audit logs, consisting of user activity logs, namely who accessed what and when and with whom did they share it. Organizations that can demonstrate visibility into who has access to sensitive content and what they’re doing with it avoid costly fines and penalties.

Improved Productivity for Critical IT Infrastructure

If a secure file sharing solution is too onerous, employees won’t use it. A secure file sharing solution therefore must also be intuitive, easy to use, and even improve productivity. A secure file sharing solution should make sharing files easy but also enhance collaboration so employees and their partners can not only share files securely but also efficiently so projects are completed in a timely manner.

Secure File Sharing Best Practices for Critical IT Infrastructure

In order to protect critical IT infrastructure, companies must implement secure file sharing practices that are tailored to their specific needs. Here are some best practices that IT companies can follow to ensure secure file sharing and critical IT infrastructure protection:

  • Use a secure file sharing platform: Choose a file sharing platform that has been specifically designed for secure file sharing or secure file transfer. These platforms offer advanced encryption, granular access controls, secure deployment options, and integrations with other security technologies that together can protect critical IT infrastructure information from cyber threats.
  • Use strong passwords and two-factor authentication: Strong passwords and two-factor authentication can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive content. Employees should be trained on how to create and manage strong passwords and use two-factor authentication for all accounts.
  • Limit access to sensitive data: Limit access to sensitive data to only those employees who require it to perform their job functions. This reduces the risk of data breaches caused by human error or insider threats.
  • Implement access controls and permissions: Access controls and permissions allow IT companies to restrict access to sensitive data and limit the actions that can be performed on that data. This can include limiting the ability to download, print, or share files.
  • Regularly update security protocols: Critical IT infrastructure organizations should regularly update their security protocols to ensure that they are up to date with the latest threats and vulnerabilities. This includes regular software updates, as well as employee training on security best practices.
  • Monitor file sharing activity: Monitoring file sharing activity can help critical IT infrastructure organizations detect and respond to potential security threats. This includes monitoring who is accessing files, what files are being accessed, and who they’re sharing those files with, both internally and externally.
  • Encrypt all data at rest and in transit: Encrypting all data at rest and in transit can help prevent unauthorized access, including interception and eavesdropping by cybercriminals. This can be done through the use of state-of-the-art encryption technologies like AES-256 encryption for data at rest and SSL/TLS encryption for data in transit.
  • Implement a disaster recovery plan: In the event of a security breach, critical IT infrastructure organizations should have a disaster recovery plan in place that outlines the steps that need to be taken to minimize the impact of the breach. This should include procedures for restoring data from backups, notifying customers and stakeholders, and investigating the cause of the breach.

By following these best practices, critical IT infrastructure organizations can ensure that their systems, applications, and content are all protected from cyber threats and other security risks. Additionally, by prioritizing secure file sharing, companies can build trust with their customers and stakeholders by demonstrating their commitment to data security and privacy.

Kiteworks Protects Critical IT Infrastructure With Secure File Sharing

The Kiteworks Private Content Network provides critical IT infrastructure organizations with a secure file sharing and secure file transfer mechanism to protect the sensitive content they send, share, receive, and store. These and other Kiteworks solutions like secure email, secure file transfer protocol (SFTP), application programming interfaces (APIs), and web forms protect sensitive information from leaking out and advanced persistent threats from getting in. Here are some ways in which critical IT infrastructure companies can use Kiteworks to safeguard their sensitive content:

Hardened Virtual Appliance

The Kiteworks hardened virtual appliance is a secure, virtual machine that provides a robust and scalable file sharing solution for organizations. It is designed to enhance the security of the file sharing environment by creating a multilayered security architecture that minimizes potential security risks. The hardened virtual appliance is built on a secure, Linux-based operating system that has been hardened to protect against known security vulnerabilities. It is designed to be deployed on-premises, in a private cloud, or in a public cloud, providing organizations with flexibility in how they manage their file sharing environment.

Regulatory Compliance

Kiteworks demonstrates regulatory compliance with data privacy regulations and cybersecurity frameworks. For example, Kiteworks has received FedRAMP Authorization for Moderate Level Impact six consecutive years and touts compliance with ISO 27001, 27017, and 27018, SOC 2, FIPS 140-2, Cyber Essentials Plus, and Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP) assessed to PROTECTED level.

CISO Dashboard

With the Kiteworks CISO Dashboard, security teams can quickly identify potential security risks and take proactive measures to mitigate them. The dashboard provides insights into the overall security posture of an organization’s file sharing environment, allowing security personnel to make informed decisions and prioritize security resources where they are needed most.

To understand how Kiteworks can help critical IT infrastructure companies protect their sensitive content, schedule a custom demo today.

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