Cybersecurity is a critical issue, and yet, we get to hear about so many instances where individuals and businesses have been lax, thereby making themselves easy targets for attackers and putting everything at stake.
If you still haven’t woken up to the fact that cybersecurity is imperative for your business, it is time you did! With technological advances and businesses being more digitized than ever before, the number of threats to your business only increases.
Don’t start worrying because you’ve come to the right place! Read on for 13 tips on upgrading your business’ security and giving it the protection it needs against potential cyber threats.
1. Classify Your Data
Conduct an audit of all your business data and categorize it so you know exactly what security measures you need to implement to protect it. Start with identifying data that is public information- you don’t need to protect this. Implement adequate safety measures to protect data that has medium importance, and safeguard personal data that is most crucial to your business using the highest level of security.
2. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication
Hacking techniques are becoming all the more effective, which is why complicated passwords just don’t cut it anymore. With multi-factor authentication, user identity is verified using more than one authentication method, from independent categories of credentials! In most cases, authentication mechanisms require evidence that falls under at least two of these categories: knowledge (something that the user knows, e.g. password), possession (something that the user has, e.g. phone), and inherence (something that the user is, e.g. fingerprint).
3. Have a Password Policy in Place
Enforcing password rules that focus on how passwords are chosen, how frequently they are changed, and how employees can keep them from being stolen can provide ample protection to resources and data from hackers and malicious insiders. Make it mandatory for passwords to be at least eight characters long and be a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and special characters. Also make it mandatory for employees to have different passwords for all accounts/platforms, and set up automatic password updates.
4. Beware of Ransomware
This type of malware can be spread through infected software apps or external storage devices, compromised websites, or e-mail attachments. Ransomware locks data on the victim’s computer, typically by encryption. Since the motive for such attacks is monetary, the victim is notified of the attack and given instructions on how to recover from it. End users, i.e. employees, need to be wary with regards to sending sensitive information via e-mail or revealing the same on suspicious websites. It’s also a must to verify web addresses independently and exercise caution when opening compressed e-mail attachments.
5. Add an SSL Certificate to Your Website
As the backbone of website security, SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates are absolutely necessary for businesses with an online presence. By bridging a secure connection between servers – for example, when carrying out a transaction – an SSL certificate ensures data is transferred safely over the Internet. While empowering your own website with an SSL certificate will help keep customer data safe, do train employees to refrain from accessing websites that are simply HTTP instead of HTTPS.
6. Keep Software Updated
Keeping software and systems updated and scheduling patches at regular intervals can prevent security attacks and disruptions in daily operations. Note that you need a strong IT team that can provide proactive support and round the clock maintenance instead of someone who is occupied with putting out fires all the time. Managed IT support providers in Ohio can identify issues quickly and resolve them before they lead to escalations and downtime!
7. Move to the Cloud
Cloud computing is a simple and flexible solution for businesses to access and manage data. It also comes with added benefits like efficient collaboration, greater integration, and scalability! Since it is a shared resource, there are concerns over privacy, identity management, and access control. In reality, cloud storage offers minimized risk and can serve as the greatest defence with strong governance, diligent data monitoring, and strictly enforced access rights.
8. Backup Data
Backing up data is as important as buying insurance to secure business assets! How frequently data needs backing up depends on the type of organization- small businesses can do with a daily backup, while financial organizations that deal with constantly changing data might need to backup several times in a day. Data can be backed up using external devices like hard drives and USB drives, or by storing it on the cloud. With cloud storage, you don’t have to worry about physical damage to your data. You also get added security in the form of data encryption and server virtualization.
9. Have an Incident Response Plan Ready
It is crucial for organizations of any size to have a ready-to-go incident response plan in place to survive attacks, and minimize impacts and recovery costs. Form an incident response team such that there’s a member from each department of the company. Core members will each have unique responsibilities during an incident, so choose your team wisely. Lay out roles and responsibilities clearly, and have a detailed course of action ready. The incident response plan should empower your team to take quick decisions after assessing risks. It’s also necessary for the team to understand what the organization’s priorities are, so they can act accordingly.
10. Get a Firewall
A firewall provides security by controlling traffic from traversing through the network. Incoming and outgoing traffic is filtered on the basis of a set of user-defined rules. Firewalls can also protect against denial of service (DoS) attacks and other threats. Be sure to keep the firewall updated and run vulnerability scans regularly. Note that using the latest version of your operating system is equally important. Also, have a simple and well-defined rule base with the most accessed rule at the top. This way, you reduce the load on the firewall as it doesn’t have to match against all the rules!
11. Segment Your Network
Having a mature firewall perimeter and strong authentication isn’t enough; if you have soft insides, i.e. a flat network infrastructure, you’re simply giving hackers a run of the place. As the name suggests, network segmentation allows the network to be split up into smaller segments. By separating groups of systems from each other, you make it difficult for hackers or malware to gain access to all parts of your network. On the plus side, you also get to isolate sensitive data from employees who aren’t meant to access the same. For more information, download this cybersecurity guide!
12. Set up a VPN
A VPN or Virtual Private Network is essentially important if you have employees that use personal devices, like a laptop, from outside the office to connect to the company’s computer network. With a VPN, you get to secure your web session, financial transactions, and confidential data, irrespective of where you are. In addition to this, setting up a VPN allows employees to hide their IP address and access company data privately without any censorship!
13. Limit Network Access
Unauthorized people who have access to your company’s critical data pose a threat to your organization, no matter how much you trust them. Examples of such people would be friends, relatives, past employees, clients, etc. If you allow clients to access your VPN, lay down strict rules regarding what they can and cannot access. Refrain from giving clients full access to your entire internal network; limit access to mail servers or select sources by applying access-control lists. For added safety, decommission credentials and applications associated with expired products and unused services.
With the advances in technology and hacking techniques, the number of cyber attacks is only set to grow. Today, cybersecurity is no longer just a technology issue, but a business concern too. As a business owner, you have to take an active interest in keeping your organization safe from potential threats!
With the information provided here, we’re sure you’ll be able to give your business the security it needs to be safe in the cyberspace!
(Image credit: Pixabay)