An intranet is a powerful tool for connecting your remote or hybrid workforce together and allowing them to collaborate from a distance.
But with that distance comes a loss of control over the way your intranet is used — which can leave you vulnerable to data breaches. Your intranet is packed with sensitive information like product details, employee data, and customer records. And if any of that information got into the wrong hands? Disaster.
Managing intranet should be a top priority for any company that’s serious about protecting its data — but it’s often overlooked. In this post, we’ll share 8 intranet security best practices to help you keep your data safe.
Be aware of internal and external security threats
When we think of security threats to online systems, we tend to imagine nefarious hackers breaking in from the outside. And this is definitely a risk, especially if your company handles sensitive data or financial records.
But it’s just as important to protect your system from internal threats: those that come from your own employees. And we don’t just mean employees acting illegally or deliberately sharing private information with outsiders — data breaches can happen by accident too. In fact, some studies suggest that as many as 70% of data breaches can be attributed to employee error, negligence, or deliberate criminal action.
Internal threats to your intranet might be due to:
Employees accidentally placing information on a public page instead of a private one
Deliberate theft of information by employees
External threats, on the other hand, might come in the form of:
Malware, ransomware, or viruses
Physical theft of company devices
8 ways to improve intranet security
So, how do you keep your intranet and the data it contains safe from both internal and external security threats? Here are our top 8 intranet security best practices to follow:
1. Create a formal intranet security policy
The first step to securing your intranet is to develop a set of policies that define how it should be used.
For example, most people understand the importance of strong passwords — but that doesn’t mean they actually use them in practice. And yet, insecure passwords leave the door wide open for anyone that wants to break into your intranet. Setting requirements for password complexity (and requiring employees to change passwords regularly) is a simple step you can take to improve intranet security.
Another consideration is the devices your employees use to access the intranet. According to a Gartner report, two-thirds of employees use personal devices for work — but those devices might not be equipped with the right protective software, and could be harboring malware that could allow unauthorized access into your intranet.
For remote workers in particular, it’s important to stress the importance of only using the intranet through a secure network, on an approved device.
2. Employ strict access controls
No one employee needs access to every part of your intranet, and you can mitigate a lot of cloud-based intranet security risks by using strict access controls that determine who can see what. Employee permissions should be based on their role and seniority and should be regularly updated.
It’s also important to remove access for employees who are no longer with the company, and to be particularly careful when allowing access to people outside of the organization, like external partners or contractors
3. Make sure employees' home networks are secure
When employees work from home, they might be connecting to your intranet through an insecure internet connection, protected only by whatever weak password they’ve chosen. Other devices connected to an employee’s home network could provide the weak point that a hacker needs to access your intranet.
At the simplest level, securing your employees’ home networks might mean asking them to change their WiFi password from “Password123” or their cat’s name to something more secure — and requiring them to change it every few months. You could even make it a requirement for employees to set up a separate network for work, or to connect to your office via a secure VPN.
4. Create a Single-Sign-On (SSO) authentication
Single-Sign-On (SSO) is an authentication method that allows users to access different apps with just one login, such as their Microsoft or Google credentials. When employees only have one password to remember, it’s easier to enforce requirements such as password complexity or regularly changing passwords.
Many modern intranet solutions (including Happeo) come with SSO capability, which can help you to improve your intranet security and make your employees’ lives easier at the same time.
5. Ensure all data is encrypted
Encryption is a method of securing data by converting it into an alternative form that can only be decrypted by an authorized user with the right ‘key’ or password. You can think of it as sending each file in a (practically) unbreakable code format, that’s automatically decoded by the computer on the other side. Pretty cool, right?
If this sounds complicated, don’t worry. Many intranet solutions come with data encryption capabilities built in. In Happeo, for example, all data is automatically encrypted both while it’s being stored and while it’s transferred from one user to another — so unauthorized users wouldn’t be able to understand the information even if they got their hands on it.
6. Ensure compliance with security standards
In certain industries like healthcare, finance, or government, companies are legally required to adhere to specific security standards. Some regulations, like the GDPR, apply to specific countries or regions.
Even if these regulations don’t apply to you though, it’s a good idea to take security standards seriously, since they exist to protect companies and their data. And if you’re looking for an intranet provider that will keep your data secure, checking their security credentials is a good place to start.
However, it’s important to ensure that any integrations you use aren’t introducing extra vulnerabilities into your internet. API integrations should offer secure endpoints, which means that they don’t expose private API data to any external parties looking to gain access.
8. Choose an intranet platform with built-in security
If you’re hosting your own intranet, your company is responsible for ensuring you have the right firewalls in place, pushing out updates, and complying with any local or industry-specific security regulations.
However, with a cloud-based intranet solution, the intranet provider takes on the responsibility of ensuring your solution is secure. They’ll make sure your data is appropriately encrypted and securely hosted, oversee updates, and regularly assess your platform’s security.
Intranet providers are experts in ensuring that the tools they provide are secure, and their whole reputation rests on them getting it right — so it makes sense to entrust your intranet security to them instead of trying to handle it yourself.
After all, if your office toilet was blocked, would you roll up your sleeves and try to fix it yourself, or call in an expert?
Provide a secure intranet experience with Happeo
Keeping your intranet secure is a difficult and complex process. But if you’re not taking intranet security seriously, you might as well be shouting your corporate secrets from the roof of your office.
Happeo is an intranet solution that’s been built with security in mind. All customer data stored in Happeo is housed in the Google Cloud, which means users benefit from Google’s best-in-class security protocols. Users can easily log into Happeo using Single-Sign-On, making it easier to enforce secure password requirements and regular password changes. Plus, Happeo is ISO-27001 certified, which means we’re committed to maintaining rigorous security standards to keep your data safe.