At Meister, we take the topics of privacy and data security very seriously. In this special, three-part series, we’re taking a closer look at what data security is, why it matters, and why a secure task management system should be the top priority for your team. In this first post, we’ll give you an overview of the data security landscape and identify some common problems that users of task management tools may face.
First things first: Why should users care about data security? Well, it is important to mention that many already do. In the UK, 75 percent of consumers are concerned about personal data security even after the implementation of the EU GDPR. In fact, the topic is even more prominent among business leaders: Terry Young, CEO of Sparks & Honey, says that “the priorities of CEOs today are shifting” and names cybersecurity as one of the current top concerns. Experts note that the cyber hygiene trend will continue far into the future until there is a zero-trust framework widely in place.
However, the perception of data security is much different “across the pond.” Although cyberattacks have increased by 400 percent during the pandemic, only 31 percent of Americans are concerned about data security. Why the discrepancy? While a lack of education on the topic may play a role in the problem, the real issue is that many Americans — scarred by horror stories of the NSA and other egregious abuses — believe that they don’t have a choice in the matter.
We stand firm in the belief that users can define their own destiny when it comes to privacy and security, starting from the tools they put their trust in. Security is central to our task management tool, MeisterTask, because we think it’s high time that companies (and the individuals within them) started taking the risks associated with their task-related data seriously. Here’s why you should care about it too.
What Is Data Security in Task Management?
Task management systems like MeisterTask are designed for collaboration: users share ideas, files and other sensitive data on a confidential basis. Where data is shared, data is at risk. As such, data security in task management is defined as the processes and technologies that are used to protect this data from unauthorized access.
Due to the high risks involved and the sheer amount of data that can be uploaded to such platforms, reliable data security is an absolute must when it comes to tool selection.
What Are the Risks?
We’ve pinpointed a handful of data security threats that users of task management software need to be aware of:
Malware is any type of software that can damage a computer system or steal information from it. Malware attacks can cause catastrophic damage to networks, infecting them with various types of viruses, trojans and ransomware. Malware generally requires a user to download a harmful file, which could be uploaded directly onto the platform or shared via a URL in a so-called drive-by attack. In companies, one person’s malware becomes everyone’s problem: certain malware types are designed to infect all network-connected devices, putting shared data at risk.
Manually controlling all your files for malware is practically impossible. A solid antivirus system is an essential first line of defense.
Hacking is a broad term that covers everything from email link scams, known as phishing, to server attacks. The latter is often beyond the direct control of users. In a task management context, this happens because company data is stored not on servers belonging to the company itself but those of the task management software provider. Once you upload a file to a project or task, it is stored on their servers “in the cloud.” If the provider’s servers are breached, your entire company could be at risk.
Ask the experts. Neutral certification bodies like Trusted Cloud regularly audit cloud service providers, including MeisterTask, to check they’re doing all they can to secure user data.
#3 Internal Error and Sabotage
Everyone makes mistakes, but some errors are more costly than others. Users with access to project data may accidentally send sensitive information to the wrong recipient via email or provide public access to information that should stay private.
In other cases, the breach is intentional. There have been many cases of corrupt employees stealing data to pass onto competitors or to take revenge on the companies they work for. Naturally, a task management system could be an absolute goldmine for intellectual property, so precautions must be taken.
The ability to limit user permissions massively reduces the likelihood of human error when it comes to data management. For users with more responsibility, consider formal security training.
#4 Vulnerable Partnerships
While the internet is global, its regulations are still defined by national governments or organizations such as the EU. By partnering with collaborators or serving customers from other countries, you may be confronted with new or unforeseen data security challenges.
When it comes to choosing a task management software, the defining criteria are company registration and server location. The geographical location of an organization’s servers and headquarters defines the paradigm for their approach to security: the legal requirements a cloud service provider must fulfill, any actions the service provider may take with your data, and the steps that must be taken to secure it from attacks.
The protocols for data security in Europe are stricter than anywhere else in the world. Companies who host inside the EU are legally bound to protect the data of their users according to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In the US, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is the accepted high standard.
Why Companies Should Care About Data Security
Choosing not to invest in data-secure software is a little bit like not paying your home insurance premiums. It’s a lot cheaper… until your house catches fire. Data breaches are expensive: as recently as May 2021, a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline led to the shutdown of 5,550+ miles of fuel delivery infrastructure for an entire week. The company also forked out a whopping $4.4 million in cryptocurrency to pay the hackers for their own data back.
It’s not just the big fish. Smaller businesses are in the crosshairs as well. The United States’ Small Business Association writes, “Small businesses are attractive targets because they have information that cybercriminals want, and they typically lack the security infrastructure of larger businesses.” Through their own research, the SBA found that 88 percent of small business owners felt they were vulnerable to a cyber attack.
Despite this, many owners are not equipped to defend themselves, mainly because they lack the time or expertise to invest in adequate countermeasures.
Plugging the Gaps
While MeisterTask can’t provide a solution to all your company’s security concerns, we can at least take a load off your mind when it comes to one thing: safe, secure task management hosted in Germany. Let’s look at some task management-specific security concerns and see how MeisterTask can help you address the issue.
The Problem: My Task Management System Isn’t GDPR-Compliant
Implementing tough data security laws is one thing: actually enforcing them is a different matter. For example, in the UK only 59 percent of businesses said they are meeting “all or most” GDPR stipulations.
Your task management system may not be GDPR-compliant for one of two reasons: either it isn’t a priority for the service provider, or the provider is based outside the EU and simply doesn’t have to abide by the regulations. GDPR was built to shield companies from data security breaches: it’s the best defensive measure at your disposal to keep your company safe.
The Solution: Switch to an EU-Based Service
Keeping your data hosted in Europe is a giant step forward towards safeguarding your intellectual property. While you may not be sure of every new rule, regulation, and potential threat in cybersecurity news, you can be confident in a provider that follows these updates for you.
Trusted Cloud providers like MeisterTask take care of high-level security measures so your team doesn’t have to. We’re the secure task management system that even security experts use. German data protection consultancy datenschutzexperte.de chose MeisterTask as their task management system. In their own words, they selected MeisterTask because it “complied not only with the EU’s GDPR guidelines but also with our strict internal security standards.”
Meister servers are located in an ISO 27001-certified data center in Frankfurt, Germany. We provide 99.9% service uptime for our paid accounts. Find out more about our security policies on our dedicated security page.
The Problem: I’m Worried About My Team’s Passwords Being Hacked
Humans are often the weak link that hackers exploit to gain unauthorized access to accounts. Although keylogging malware might help them steal passwords, many breaches occur because passwords were simply rubbish to start with. When password manager NordPass published their list of the 10 most frequently used and worst passwords of 2020, “password” and “12345678.” featured in the top three.
Worse yet, those with chronic password forgetfulness may resort to saving their sensitive login information in unsecured spreadsheets, emails, or post-it notes around the office. The results can be grim. If a hacker gains access to an employee’s task management account by simply “guessing” a weak password, they will gain exactly the same account permissions as they do.
According to security and IT experts Code Camp, “the majority of the hacking-related breaches take place due to weak or stolen passwords”.
The Solution: Use Two-Factor Authentication.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) reduces the risk of fraud and other data security threats by adding a second wall of security around your most important data. A password alone isn’t enough: your team will need a separate device, usually a mobile phone, to complete login.
You’ve probably seen something similar from your online bank, and for good reason too: it works.
According to Code Camp, “four out of five data breaches could be avoided by using 2FA”. MeisterTask not only offers two-factor authentication but also makes it easy for users to change their personal information and passwords as needed.
Already using MeisterTask? Find out how to enable two-factor authentication in our help center.
The Problem: I’m Worried My Data Might Fall into the Wrong Hands
The more people that work on your project, the messier the issue of user permissions can become. If you work with external collaborators, the problem is exacerbated even further. Simply put, the more doors there are to enter, the easier it is for bad actors to get inside.
For one reason or the other, teams need to share sensitive information with clients and collaborators who expect more fluid processes as part of agile development models. Losing access mid-project could have serious business consequences, which in turn prompts companies to prioritize smooth relationships over security. This exposes companies by giving too many people access to sensitive files with data such as client names, financial records, and even bank account details. It is an accident waiting to happen.
The Solution: Take Control of User Permissions
On the plus side, we think we’ve found a happy compromise between maximum functionality and security. MeisterTask offers users the opportunity to make all their projects private by default through advanced permission settings. From there, access is broken up into different levels and divided by roles that include administrator, member, commenter and read-only.
Project managers can assign these roles to individuals and update them as needed. That way, everyone who needs access has no more or less information than what they require for the project, while the ability to add even more members to the project is limited by role.
Sign up. Stay Safe!
Data security is a necessity and not a luxury in task management. You now know how easy it is to stay updated with the latest security measures thanks to MeisterTask. With features such as secure cloud services, two-factor authentication, and fully visible permission settings that even cybersecurity firms trust, data security has finally become an achievable goal.
In our next post, you’ll get to know how cloud software really works and how it relates to your task management data security. Then, in our final post of the series, we’ll go into detail about what to look for in a secure task management software if you want to keep your data safe and sound.
Follow us on Twitter @MeisterTask to stay in the loop!
This post was co-authored by Maria Waida, Owner of SaaSy Copywriting and “One of the Best Marketers in the World” – G2