When you hear the word cybersecurity, what image comes to mind? Perhaps you imagine a firewall or antivirus software. Or maybe you think of your employees and the risks they pose to your business. But there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to cybersecurity. Instead, there are multiple preventative security measures that are necessary to protect your organization against today’s security threats.
Think of every security measure you create as a wall that protects your business and its data. By continuing to add new walls to the fortress, you reduce the chances of falling prey to a cyber attack.
Here are nine preventative security measures that will help your organization stay safe in today’s world.
1. Establish Strong Passwords.
Your security is only as strong as your passwords.
But seriously. Using a weak password is like substituting a padlock for a piece of string. It gives you a false sense of security and makes it that much easier for hackers and cyber criminals to enter your network.
The problem is that using unique complicated passwords for every account makes it difficult to keep track of them all.
We recommend using a password manager to keep your passwords encrypted and secure.
Or, better yet, implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for your accounts and devices. Instead of requiring a single password, MFA utilizes credentials that you can easily remember or carry on your person, like a 4-character PIN or an authenticator app stored on your phone.
By setting up MFA, you add extra layers of security to your data, making it more difficult for attackers to gain access to your network.
2. Set up a Firewall.
Firewalls are a necessary preventative security measure in the IT world. Currently, there are over 900 million forms of malware threatening organizations (Tech Jury).
In order to protect your data from these threats, you need a way to recognize and block them before they do permanent damage to your network.
Firewalls monitor traffic moving in and out of your network. Without a firewall, it could take hours or even days before you recognize an attack.
And by then, it might be too late.
Instead, use a firewall to alert you of suspicious activity and isolate any possible threats.
For your data, it could mean the difference between life and death.
3. Install Antivirus Protection.
- Scan specific files or directories to detect malware and malicious activity
- Remove malicious code and other infections
- Run scheduled assessments to survey the health of your computer
4. Schedule Regular Backups and Updates.
The tricky thing about cybersecurity is that it’s constantly evolving. Every year, cyber criminals discover new ways to weaken your defenses.
That’s why regular updates are so important. Just as cyber attacks are constantly changing, preventative security measures are also growing stronger to combat these attacks.
Schedule frequent updates to security applications and programs. Regular maintenance will help you resolve any vulnerabilities that have emerged in your software.
Regular backups are also important to ensure that you don’t lose any essential data. In the case of security breach, you’ll still have access to files and programs your organization needs to function.
5. Monitor All Company Devices.
All company devices should have strict protections in place, like multi-factor authentication, encryption software, and antivirus protection.
In addition, make sure your employees are aware of how to properly care for company devices. This includes only downloading attachments from trusted sources, storing information correctly, and keeping work data separate from personal files.
Establish Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies for employees who use personal computers at work or company laptops at home. These devices should be regularly scanned and updated to check for possible malware. When employees leave the company, make sure their devices are wiped of all company data and confidential information.
6. Implement Network Access Control.
On average, 17% of a company’s sensitive data is accessible to all employees, according to Varonis.
Choosing not to limit employees’ access to confidential information only increases the risk of a data breach.
To make sure only necessary employees have access to sensitive data, create a Network Access Control List (NACL). This allows you to manually select which users have access to specific IP addresses.
That way, you control who has access to company data, instead of leaving your security to chance.
7. Learn How to Recognize Phishing Emails.
Phishing scams are one of the most common forms of cyber attacks. They often come in the form of emails urging users to click a link, download an attachment, or share sensitive information.
However, these links and attachments are often filled with malware that could infect your computer and damage important data. Hackers might also use your personal information for fraud or theft.
So how can you differentiate a legitimate email from a phishing scam?
Every phishing email is different, but they often share a few common characteristics:
- Sender’s name or email address is unfamiliar
- Lack of a personal greeting
- Grammar or misspellings
- Sender asks for personal information, like a password or credit card number
- Sender creates a sense of urgency to click a link or download an attachment
Keep in mind that even if an email has correct grammar and uses a personal greeting, that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t a phishing email. Hackers are creating more convincing emails every year, so it’s important to always be on your guard, even if the email seems legitimate.
The best thing you can do is to follow up over the phone or in person. For example, if your bank sends an urgent email, asking you to update your payment information, it’s best to call the bank directly or visit your nearest branch. That way, you can be sure that the proper security measures are in place to protect your account.
Learning how to recognize phishing emails could save your company from a damaged reputation and financial ruin. That’s why it’s critical to train your employees on how to respond to these threats.
8. Create an Incident Response Plan.
Thus far, we have described a series of effective, preventative security measures. Yet despite thorough planning and preparation, you can never completely eliminate the risk of a cyber attack.
That’s why every business should have an incident response plan in place. That way, if you experience a cybersecurity breach, you’ll be able to respond quickly and minimize the damage.
Begin by tracing the attack and isolating the damage as much as possible. Retrieve any lost data through backups, and remove the infected device(s) from your network. If necessary, inform any affected parties of the breach, and share an action plan on how you will resolve the situation.
Finally, you should conduct a post-incident review to address and resolve any vulnerabilities that might have caused the attack. Update your cybersecurity policies, and make a plan for avoiding similar incidents in the future.
9. Educate Your Employees.
Your employees are one of the greatest risks to your business’s cybersecurity, but they can also become a huge asset if you educate them correctly.
Start by identifying the risks at your organization, like weak passwords, inappropriate device use, and email phishing. Then, create campaigns and training programs to target these risks.
By mitigating employee risk, you are also reducing the risk of your business’s security as a whole.
Develop a Legacy of Airtight Security
Airtight security doesn’t happen overnight, but you can set the precedent for your organization, one new policy at a time. By constantly adding new preventative security measures and keeping your team on the same page, you can protect your data against any attack that comes your way.
Here at CR-T, we take pride in providing enterprise-level IT services at prices that work for small businesses. Our team of experts can become your IT support department, responding to issues quickly, often before you even know about them. Covering everything from your servers and network infrastructure to your computers, workstations and mobile devices, we provide end-to-end solutions for all your technology needs.
Time and experience have helped us develop best practices and workflow procedures designed to keep your focus on your business, not your technology.