1. Conduct an assessment.
One of the first things every business should do is conduct an assessment of its current (IT framework) to develop an understanding of how technology is being used by the organization. This will allow your team to ascertain the most critical weaknesses and potential threats to your data and your systems. It will also show how employees and customers access your systems and if their usage is causing any potential threats to the (IT framework). These assessments should occur on a regular basis. Depending on your team and systems, some of this analysis can be automated. Other system checks are manual. Both require a review by your Chief Information Officer or service providers so adjustments can be made to enhance the security of the system.
2. Train your staff.
We need trusted and competent staff to do the day-to-day work that drives an organization. It's why businesses routinely spend a large amount of their operating budget on payroll. Despite the value that the employee base brings to the organization they are also one of the biggest cybersecurity risks. As a result, it is necessary to train your staff.
Although it is unrealistic to train your staff on the nuances of the organization's (IT framework) and the critical (cyber security standards) and protocols for each system, a cyber security employee awareness training is necessary to promote the proper use of technology. In addition to the training, managers and supervisors must enforce the policies in place to make sure that the threat of a cyber security attack is decreased or at least mitigated, by proper employee use of company systems.
- Create and use strong passwords.
- Lock devices when not in use.
- Avoid using work devices for personal use and vice versa.
- Do not leave portable devices unattended in the office, at home, or in public.
- How to identify suspicious/phishing emails and what to do with them.
Training employees on the risks of cybersecurity threats before an attack occurs will save you a lot of time and money and avoid the stress of dealing with the devastating fallout of a successful attack.
3. Create a recovery plan.
No matter what your organization does threats are constantly attacking your systems. And even without an external threat, user error can wreak havoc on your organization. The first level of any recovery plan is to back up your data and do it often. If, but more likely when, a security event occurs, you can access and rebuild your systems. In addition to backing up your data, you should have a process of how to restore systems, what's needed to complete the restore, and a communication plan to your staff and clients.
4. Update your software.
We all get them. Those pesky emails and pop-ups detailing the need for an update that may or may not require a systems restart. These updates, sometimes called "patches", are critical because they often close gaps in coding or other vulnerability issues in your software. Out-of-date software allows cybercriminals potential access to your equipment, data, or both by exploiting these open "holes" created by software that is not updated when required.
5. Limit access to your systems.
Each computer, laptop, server and email account is a potential access point to your technology system that cybercriminals can exploit to access your system. Each user profile and attached device serves as a virtual on-ramp for unauthorized users to breach your security protocols. Therefore, it is best to limit employee access. Enough access should be given so that an employee can do their job successfully but that should be the limit of their access. Administrative access should be granted sparingly and only to employees who require it due to the nature of their role in the organization.
Protecting your business from cyber threats is an ongoing business imperative. Businesses rely on their IT systems and resources to run smoothly so that the business can operate efficiently. If you have questions about your current IT structure and cybersecurity needs, consider partnering with an experienced firm to help you through the process. They can help you make sense of the options and choose the best products and service for your business.