Cyber security best practices lay an essential foundation for keeping your business secure from the array of cyber threats at play today. As technology advances, so will the essentials that are required to keep a robust cyber security posture. Does your organisation use all of these essential measures?
In the first part of this best practices series, we delved into the foundational aspects of cyber security and how cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in these areas. In this second part, we will guide you through ten crucial measures to bolster the cybersecurity posture of your business.
1. Regular Patch Management
Keeping your software and systems up to date is a cornerstone of cybersecurity. Regularly update your operating systems, applications, and third-party software to address known vulnerabilities. Implement automated patch management tools to streamline the process. Software vendors often release patches that mitigate potential risks, and promptly applying these patches will greatly reduce your exposure to attacks.
Enshrining regular patching in your IT policy can help with ensuring it is organisationally applied and tracked, while using patch management tools can help to enforce their regularity and ensure that all devices and software remain updated.
2. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
MFA adds an extra layer of protection beyond passwords. Implement MFA across your systems and applications, requiring users to provide additional verification, such as a text message code or fingerprint scan. Tools like Microsoft Azure Multi-Factor Authentication or Google Authenticator can help with implementing this additional layer of security in your business. On platforms such as Google Workspace and Microsoft 365, you can configure your workspace to enforce mandatory MFA in your organisation.
3. Security Training and Awareness Programs
Educating your staff about cybersecurity is pivotal. Regularly conduct training sessions that cover topics like identifying phishing emails, using strong passwords, and reporting suspicious activity. In your onboarding processes for new employees, incorporating user awareness training wis also worth considering, as there may be a gap between their joining date and the next regularised training session. You can also engage external user awareness training service providers to deliver interactive and engaging training modules that keep your employees vigilant against evolving threats.
4. Data Encryption
Encrypt sensitive data to make it unreadable to unauthorised users. Implement encryption protocols like TLS/SSL for data in transit, and encryption tools like BitLocker or VeraCrypt for data at rest. This ensures that even if data is intercepted, it remains unintelligible and protected. If you support remote working, finding solutions is pivotal, as there are certain risks unique to remote working such as access of your company network via a relatively less secure personal router, as well as access via personal devices.
5. Network Segmentation
Divide your network into smaller segments to control the movement of threats within your network. This forms an important mitigatory measure and gives your cyber security measures multiple layers of protection. Use firewalls to isolate critical systems from the broader network, making it harder for attackers to move laterally. Tools like Cisco Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) can help you to apply network segmentation in your organisation.
6. Create an Incident Response Plan
Develop a comprehensive incident response plan that outlines clear steps to follow in case of a breach. Assign roles and responsibilities to your incident response team and establish communication protocols. There are incident response platforms that can facilitate the process, like Splunk or IBM Resilient to coordinate actions and minimize the impact of breaches.
7. Regular Security Audits and Assessments
Conduct regular security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify weak points in your infrastructure. There are tools such as OpenVAS and Qualys that can scan for vulnerabilities and provide insights. It’s also possible to contract a Managed Service Provider to conduct a thorough assessment that yields actionable insights for your business.
8. Secure Configuration Management
Take care to review and apply secure configuration settings for your systems and applications, including when you’re adopting new ones. Similarly, implement policies that disallow unnecessary features or software on company devices such as via a Mobile Device Management solution.
9. Network Firewall
Assess the cybersecurity practices of third-party vendors before integrating their solutions. This can involve looking for social proof such as Cyber Essentials certifications, asking questions about their cyber security practices, and assessing that they meet data protection compliance requirements and can help your business to remain compliant in turn.
10. Create a Data Backup and Recovery Solution
Backing up your data is incredibly important for ensuring business continuity when the exceptional happens. By default, many solutions only backup deleted data for up to 30 days, so having a comprehensive and reliable solution that can empower continuity and compliance is essential. It’s possible to use a software solution such as Veeam for this, or to outsource regular backups, testing and rapid recoverability via a Managed Service Provider.
Implement These Measures To Enhance Data Protection and Cyber Security
By applying these ten key measures, you can create a solid fundamental cyber security posture that is able to detect, prevent and mitigate the majority of cyber threats at play today. We suggest seeing these measures as a foundation that can evolve with your business. For assured and deep protection against the full spectrum of threats, businesses will need to go beyond these fundamentals. That said, these fundamentals will empower your business to empower its security, continuity, compliance and peace of mind.
By committing to these cyber security best practices, you will position your business as a proactive defender against cyber threats, ensuring a safe and resilient digital future.
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