Security threats exist everywhere in the digital world where you do business. Even the most traditional businesses utilize modern IT solutions with network connectivity, both internal and external. If appropriate steps aren’t taken to protect systems and data, then your data, finances, and even the future of your business will be at risk.
Following industry best security practices is critical to safeguard your data, workstations, and your network environment. These are the seven best security practices that every business should follow.
1: Keep Hardware and Software Up to Date, and Implement Network Security Hardware
Although hardware exploits are rare, they can still occur. Outdated hardware is more open to exploits, so you should maintain a policy of regularly upgrading what you use. Hardware lease programs can help to ensure that you always have current generation equipment.
Software exploits are far more common and can come in the form of malware, viruses, or targeted attacks from external networks. Basic antivirus protection is essential on every workstation that is connected to your network. Software should be patched/updated as soon as new iterations are made available.
Network level protection should include robust firewalls and traffic policies that limit the risk of data loss or theft.
2: Encrypt Data Whenever Possible
Strong encryption can prevent data being viewed or used, even if it is taken by a malicious party. Data should be encrypted wherever possible, particularly if it is being transferred over the internet or any shared network. Backups and workstations should also be encrypted to provide the maximum possible protection.
3: Implement a BYOD Policy
BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is becoming commonplace in modern businesses. There are many advantages to BYOD, including increased productivity when staff use the devices that they are familiar with. However, if BYOD is not closely monitored and controlled, then there’s a risk of data loss or theft.
Your company needs a BYOD policy in 2018. It’s necessary to govern the functions that BYOD devices can be used for, and which systems can be accessed. VPN (Virtual Private Networks) and remote application environments can be used to strengthen security on employee-owned devices.
4: Audit and then Restrict Access to Sensitive Data
Less exposure means less risk for security compromises. Access to hardware and data should only be made available to those who need it. It’s important to regularly audit your access privileges and revoke access when it is no longer required.
5: Monitor, Log, and Act on Incidents
All incidents, ranging from unauthorized application installations, to clear cases of unauthorized data access, need to be logged and evaluated. Follow up on incidents and take disciplinary or legal action when necessary. By understanding how your systems are compromised, you will be better able to design effective security processes.
6: Consider Cloud Backups for Data
Data stored locally is inherently unsecure. There’s also a high risk of permanent loss if your data is only backed up in a single physical location. Cloud storage and backup solutions can decentralize your data on encrypted servers that offer multiple points of redundancy.
7: Take the Education-First Approach
Employees are a leading source of leaked, lost, and stolen data. In many cases, security is compromised unknowingly, due to a lack of user training. All employees should be trained for the systems that they are using, with a focus placed on both functionality and best security practices. The Education-first approach can help to significantly reduce the risk of data loss and outside access. Users should know the basics like identifying phishing scams and creating strong passwords, and they should also receive targeted training for the applications and systems that they are authorized to use.
A managed IT service can assist with training design and facilitation within your organization, while also offering complete auditing services to determine where risks exist and how security can be improved. If you have been a victim of data theft, identified recent incidents, or generally feel that your cybersecurity and on-site data security are lacking, then it’s time to take advantage of professional IT consultation.