If you don’t run a tech business, it can be tempting to backburner the long list of things you need to do to keep your company’s information technology infrastructure robust and secure. However, in the digital economy, it’s essential for companies of every size to safeguard business networks, manage access and protect digital assets. Read on to get ideas for simple, accessible ways you can strengthen your company’s cybersecurity practices – even without a dedicated IT staff.
Leave Passwords in the Past
While passwords are a routine part of securing user accounts, they’re also a major security vulnerability. Even big companies like Capital One and Equifax have fallen prey to data breaches that reveal customers’ passwords and personal information. Worse yet, when one password is revealed, unrelated accounts may also be compromised, as users often reuse the same password for multiple accounts. Ensuring that employees follow best practices when they set up accounts – using numbers and symbols, developing unique login credentials and changing passwords routinely – is almost impossible.
Many companies are now choosing to avoid the password problem altogether by switching to passwordless login, a more secure form of authentication. Your employees can use a device like their mobile phone in combination with biometric data to log in to their work accounts without using a password at all. Password leaks are the cause of four out of five data breaches, but with passwordless login, you can shrink your company’s attack surface instantly.
Make Vulnerability Scanning Routine
Each time your business adds a new user, program or device to its network, you’re introducing a potential new risk. Conversely, limiting access is an important part of good security practices, but you can’t avoid expanding your network forever. You can manage risk by making vulnerability management a part of your network maintenance routine.
Vulnerability management platforms scan the inputs, data and traffic on your network and flag potential problems for investigation. Some, like IBM’s QRadar, even use artificial intelligence tools to perform pre-analysis on threats before adding the findings to a database of known weaknesses and sending its findings to the humans responsible for network security. Making vulnerability scans a continuous, automated process allows you to stay up to date on network threats in real time.
Install and Maintain Antivirus Software
Security breaches are often a result of human error. Employees who aren’t well-versed on how to keep themselves and the company safe online may open unsafe email attachments, click links from unknown senders and download files that could contain malware. While it’s crucial to start training workers on cybersecurity best practices now if you haven’t already, it’s safer to assume that mistakes will still happen, no matter how knowledgeable your employees are. That’s where antivirus software can help.
Regardless of the operating system your office uses, there are a number of credible options on the market to protect your business from viruses and malware. Antivirus software can protect you from cybersecurity threats in real time, scanning emails, files and webpages to ensure there’s nothing dangerous trying to enter your network. However, for it be useful, you need to keep the software up to date. Applying updates in a timely fashion is important for all software, but especially for antiviral programs. Patches and updates contain important security upgrades and information on newer risks, and even the best program can’t defend against risks it doesn’t realize exist.
Create Backups and Contingencies
Strong cybersecurity plans are designed around the idea that you can’t assume your network or data will be safe. That’s why no infosec plan is complete without a robust system for backups and contingencies in place. In 2016, hackers broke into the San Francisco Municipal Transport Agency and demanded tens of thousands of dollars in ransom for the return of their infrastructure and data. This failure could have been catastrophic, but the city was able to use its backup and recovery system to refuse the ransom and return to full service quickly.
If your business is hacked despite your best efforts, or a natural catastrophe destroys your office and all the data inside, you’ll be able to rebuild your organization much more easily with current backups available. To build a resilient backup and restoration system like the SFMTA did, you’ll want to automate the backup process so it runs in the background of your network constantly, ensuring that your most recent backup is always the most current version.
You can store some of your backups in your office for easy access in case of emergency, but consider augmenting those physical copies with a distributed cloud service. Remote cloud storage ensures your backups will stay safe, whether something happens to your office or the cloud service’s data centers, since your backups will be stored in multiple safe locations.
While the world of cybersecurity can be an intimidating place, you don’t have to be an infosec expert to commit to keeping your company’s technological infrastructure safe. Security practices may feel burdensome, but in the long run, they can save you and your business tremendous amounts of time, money and stress.