In the wake of the pandemic, data breaches and online threats have become much more frequent. With the entire world relying on digital communications for both work and life, the opportunity is simply too lucrative to pass up for cyber criminals. Irrespective of the size of your business, it’s critical to take steps to protect all your mission critical systems and sensitive information. If you ignore cyber security risks assuming that the size of your business could be a deterrent to attackers, you run the risk of opening yourself and your company up to a slew of risks that could impact your bottom line and even put the entire company’s future in jeopardy.
According to the 2016 State of SMB CyberSecurity Report by Ponemon and @Keeper 50 percent of SMBs have had a security breach within the past year. This is primarily because SMBs typically do not have an adequate security posture and pose little challenge hackers looking to gain illegitimate access to their network and data. While it’s good for SMBs to prepare for the eventualities of a breach and be prepared with an actionable business continuity plan, it’s much better to take effective precautionary measures so you don’t fall victim to an attack in the first place. Managed IT Services New Jersey can be a great resource for implementing business continuity and enforcing effective cyber security models at work. Here are our;
Top 8 Security Practices to Protect Your Business’s Sensitive Data
- Use a firewall – According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) a firewall is a must-have recommendation for SMBs to protect their data from unauthorized access. This essentially acts as your business’ first line of defense in the event of an attack. You could even opt to set up additional firewalls within the outer layer of the master firewall. For employees working for home, you can opt to provide firewall software and support for home networks so your data remains secure even while it is accessed from external home networks.
- Encrypt every step of the way – Encrypting your data is essentially putting another stumbling block in the path of hackers trying to profit from its illegitimate use. Without access to the decryption code, the stolen data will be useless for hackers and save you from severe consequences. Please remember that encrypting full disks instead of few select files is both easier to do and prevents unauthorized access comprehensively. You should also consider encrypting all your electronic devices, including laptops, tablets, smartphones, USBs, e-mails – basically any medium or device that you have used to store or transmit sensitive business data.
- Perform regular Back-Ups and encrypt them – There is a common misconception around data breaches that they only involve stolen data. However, the breakdown at the business side of things and loss of data can happen as easily from the impact of stolen devices or network crashes during an attack. This makes it critical to have secure, encrypted backups on hand in case something untoward happens. IT support NJ can help you with completely secure, automatic backups that can be made available on demand.
- Be religious about updates – We know operating system and antivirus updates can seem troublesome and time-consuming to users and can sometimes even result in performance issues during or, a short while after installation. But these updates often contain important security patches that can keep your system protected against newly discovered or evolving threats, and otherwise improve security.
- Use multifactor identification – Despite rigorous training and awareness about cyber security, humans are prone to error and your employees can make mistakes. Using multi-factor authentication guarantees an extra layer of protection from unauthorized access, as hackers are unlikely to have access to two or more employee devices at once.
- Mobile Data Safety is a Must – With remote operations likely to stay in vogue for the foreseeable future and anywhere operations fast becoming the norm, businesses need to have a well-defined BYOD policy in place with strong focus on security. Norton by Symantec advises that SMBs should enforce automatic security updates for employees and make all mobile devices subject to company password policy-compliant.
- Pay attention to Password Management – Maintaining adequate password hygiene is at once one of the simplest things you can do to protect your data, and also one of the toughest to implement on a regular basis. Building strong passwords only requires a mix of upper and lower case alphabets, numerals and letters, but since most people struggle to remember such combinations – they often choose easy to remember names, days etc. as passwords and compromise the integrity of the entire network. Moreover, they tend to repeat passwords on multiple accounts and save passwords in their browsers. For the sake of secure password practices in your business, try and make use of reputed password management software programs that can make it easy for your employees to generate, change, and remember passwords. Remember to enforce a stringent protocol of quickly revoking access authorization in case of dismissals or other issues.
- Educate Your Employees on Data Security Best Practices – Employees are generally overstretched at SMBs, which makes it harder for them to remain on alert about cyber security whenever they are working. However, the rate at which attacks are taking place now makes it critical for employees across levels to understand the importance of cyber security. Employees can be both your biggest assets and your biggest liabilities when it comes to the war on cybercrime. As humans, all of us are prone to error. However, it’s up to every business to make cyber security important (without being threatening) in the minds of employees. This can be done through local efforts such as impromptu group huddles, simulated attack scenarios wherein employees can participate and role-play their duties in case of an actual attack. For more ideas on employee training on cyber security, consider reaching out to Managed services NJ. Also, while it’s important to instill positive reinforcement in employees when approaching cyber security, they also need to realize the consequences for the company in case of a data breach. With policies being constantly updated, it may be a good idea to have employees periodically sign off their understanding of security policies currently in place and their role in enforcing those policies.
Chris Forte is the President and CEO of Olmec Systems, provides specialist IT Consulting New Jersey, NY & GA area. Chris has been in the MSP work-space for the past 25 years. He earned his Master’s Degree from West Virginia University, graduating Magna Cum Laude. In his spare time, Chris enjoys traveling with his family.