SMB Computer Security Tips: Basic Principles of Cyber Security
Small to midsized businesses get wrapped up in the day-to-day actions of running a business and ignore security issues. Ironically, the business owners would not leave their offices at night with broken locks on the doors. Instead, they would do whatever they had to do to replace the locks and secure their businesses. Unfortunately, SMBs do not approach cyber security with the same urgency and often leave their network “doors” open to cybercrimes. However, some basic principles apply to securing your business’ data. Much of it starts with establishing cyber security best practices:
- Standardization and Education for Employees – There must be codified rules and policies that spell out the areas of risk and the steps required on the user level to prevent and respond to cyberattacks. Vital cyber security tips for employees must become hard rules. These rules should also be communicated to vendors, clients and customers, to afford them a sense of trust in your company’s security protocols. These practices include secure password tips, rules for opening attachments, handling suspicious emails, log-in permissions and other policies for safe communication, including when working remotely. In addition, education and consistent implementation of cyber security protocols will reduce many vulnerabilities on the user level.
- Ongoing Employee Awareness – Employee best practices training must be ongoing. Logically, policies are only as good as their execution. If your SMB’s end users are not trained properly, don’t follow the rules and don’t work to protect your company’s data, your company will eventually fall victim to cybercrimes. As the expression goes, “All it takes is one weak link.” As many small to midsized businesses cannot afford a full-time IT professional on staff, the more support they can get from their employees, the more secure their networks will be.
- Incident Response Management – Cyber protection needs are fluid and require constant monitoring and updating. But even with many strong layers of cyber security, your business might still fall victim to a cyberattack. In the event of an attack, appropriate employee response and reporting are critical toward mitigating and eliminating potential threats before they spread through your network.
- Network Protection – Cyber security starts with a well-secured network. It is essential to have a clear plan for locking down your network, and every employee must be on the same page. The newly expanded hybrid remote work environment has prompted an increase in attacks through unsecured networks in public places. Unfortunately, any employee who has access to your business network can open the door to cybercrime by logging in to an unsecured connection. Also, off-the-shelf anti-virus protection is often not up to the challenges presented by skilled hackers. Just as locking your office is important enough to get a locksmith, network security requires IT experts to ensure you have the proper network protection in place for your business.
- Regular Software and System Updates – Software and system updates are perhaps the most readily available steps that can be taken to increase security. Developers are constantly working to improve their programs. As part of their updates, they create patches and fixes for known security vulnerabilities. Updates can be programmed to be downloaded and installed automatically or manually installed with just a few clicks. Therefore, updating must be an integral part of any robust, company-wide cyber security plan.
- Limiting User Permissions – In deciding access privileges for employees, the approach should be that employees should be given the least access permissions required to do their particular jobs effectively. For example, someone working in the accounting department does not need access to files and programs used by an employee in the graphics department and vice versa. The highest access privileges should be granted to only a very select group of employees. Usually, these privileges are restricted to a company’s C-level executives and trusted IT personnel.
- Strong Password Tips and Multi-Factor Authentications – The days of using your name and birthday over and over again for passwords are long gone. The first line of defense for cyber threat protection is the creation of strong, unique passwords that are very difficult to guess. Password Managers can help create and store complex passwords. However, there is now a crucial second step that works in tandem with your password: Multi-factor Authentication. Multi-factor Authentication is a security protocol through which a user is asked for two or more types of credentials before being allowed access to a program, website or some other confidential account. Simply put, by employing multi-factor log-in credentials, a potential hacker can no longer rely on simply stealing a password to breach a network.
- Malware Protection – Malware attacks are here to stay. Increased remote access work environments have opened many more opportunities for hackers to breach your SMB’s data. Phishing, ransomware and a host of other deadly malware attacks can destroy your business. Therefore, defenses against malware attacks on your business should be designed and installed by IT experts. With a more than 400% increase in cybercrimes over the past two years, small to midsized businesses cannot take a chance on piecemeal, amateur approaches to malware protection.
- 24/7 Monitoring – If your business network is always online, you must have a 24/7 strategy for monitoring your system. Cyber event visibility is imperative to ensure appropriate protection. IT experts can help design the best combination of automated detection and response as well as a mechanism for remote and onsite monitoring of network activity and attempted cyberattacks. The correct cyber defense architecture will monitor all inbound and outbound traffic and integrate the data from all endpoints, firewalls and other protection solutions.
- Removable Media Controls – Media devices such as USB drives, flash memory cards and other removable media should be limited and strictly controlled. Although businesses must sometimes permit data transfer by removable media, this privilege must be treated with the same precautions as User Permissions.
- Mobile/Remote Access – Any time an employee user is no longer connected to a company’s LAN or WAN in the office, new cyber risks are presented. Careful attention must be given to the creation of policies and protocols related to remote-access work. Remember, every endpoint is an access point for hackers.
Robust cyber security has never been more vital to running a small to midsized business. Unfortunately, many SMBs do not make basic security protocols a priority. In addition, smaller companies have neither the time nor the budget for a full-time IT department. However, they also lack the expertise to take the necessary steps to protect all their cyber vulnerabilities. Therefore, it is essential to employ IT experts to lock down your network. IT professionals will assess your cyber vulnerabilities and help you design the best layers of protection for your hard-earned business data, regardless of where the data is stored and who is accessing it. Cyber Security is now a 360-degree ecosystem requiring significant expertise to secure all possible access points.
DIGIGUARD Cyber Security Specializes in Network Protection
DIGIGUARD is dedicated to preventing cyber threats of all kinds. They are the IT experts you need to secure your business network. In addition, they have a wide array of solutions to protect against cybercrimes and ensure you have the best possible protection in place before a cyberattack. It works with small and midsized businesses to establish cyber security best practices to ensure confidential data is secure and all your devices have the specific protections they require, especially those used for remote-access work. For any business, cyberattacks can have devastating consequences. DIGIGUARD can assess your cyber risks and work with you to design the best protection solutions for your business.
Call DIGIGUARD CYBER SECURITY at 833-33-CYBER (833-332-9237) and visit www.DIGIGUARDsecurity.com to discuss how you can increase your company’s overall level of cyber security across your network before you fall victim to a cyberattack.