To make certain concepts easier to understand and to undertake, one could break them down to lists of fundamentals. It works in any discipline, too: The three fundamentals of defensive driving; The four fundamentals of grilling beef; The five fundamentals of meditation.
This formula definitely applies to the world of business technology, and one area where it is particularly useful is cybersecurity. That’s a critical aspect of office IT, but it can be overwhelming to many small-business owners, especially if they’ve never seen it spelled out clearly.
Luckily for our readers, we’ve compiled a list of five straightforward, easy-to-implement fundamentals of business cybersecurity that will ensure your organization’s networks and systems are always protected from cyber threats.
What are the cyber threats?
Perhaps we should first provide a brief explanation of what kinds of dangers the five fundamentals of business cybersecurity will protect you from -- everyone knows that viruses can infect your computers and do serious damage, but they’re just one of a handful of dangers.
Businesses can be brought to their knees by other forms of malware such as worms, trojans, and a particularly nefarious strand called ransomware; by “zero-day” attacks which exploit previously unknown software vulnerabilities as soon they’re announced; and by Denial-of-Service onslaughts where your network gets flooded with traffic that can crash your servers.
Given all that, where should you start in order to keep your network and systems safe? Let’s have a look:
#1 - Stay Current
Time after time, Charles IT takes calls from soon-to-be customers because they’ve been infected by malware that’s wreaking havoc on their productivity tools like Microsoft Office suite or Google Chrome. And time after time, it turns out that the app or browser that’s been infected is seriously outdated in terms of security patches and updates.
We can’t always say with absolute certainty that their systems were breached because they were outdated, but we’re certain enough to say this: If your business doesn’t have the personnel or resources available to keep your software applications and web browsers always up to date, call a professional.
#2 - Use the Proper Tools
There are numerous tools on offer to help you keep cyber attackers at bay, like firewalls which are ubiquitous in the world of IT security, relatively easy to install, affordable, and available as either hardware or software appliances.
Other frontline cybersecurity solutions you should consider include Intrusion Detection Systems comprised of both hardware and software components; Encryption programs that encode things like customer account data and passwords so only your authorized personnel have access; and of course Anti-Malware programs that stand guard over your email system, perform regular scans of your servers, and stay updated automatically.
#3 - Maintain Strong Passwords
One of the surest ways to prevent private company data from being compromised is for those authorized personnel to use strong passwords. Without them, even low-level hackers will have the run of the place via simple “brute force” attacks which amount to little more than guesswork.
You probably know the basics, but they’re worth repeating. Passwords should contain both uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. And perhaps most importantly, longer passwords are better. So when you drill your teams on how to create strong ones, make sure they’re getting creative and that they’re setting different passwords for every account so hackers have to actually work for their exploits.
#4 - Educate Your Employees
This fundamental aspect of business cybersecurity goes well beyond policing your users’ passwords. In fact, educating your employees on computer network defense should be an ongoing program that covers a wide range of topics.
These should include how to access public WiFi networks safely, how to share files and other sensitive data carefully, how to avoid “Social Engineering” scams that trick email recipients into revealing passwords, and how to recognize phishing scams and links containing malware.
#5 - Prepare for the Worst
Even if you’ve got the previous four fundamentals down pat, as a business owner or chief IT stakeholder you should be cognizant of the fact that “stuff” still happens. As such, it is important to have plans in place that react to and rectify security breaches quickly.
Charles IT can help you prepare for the worst, with a range of data backup and disaster recovery plans focused on minimizing downtime and other potential damage should your company ever be hacked -- because we do more than simply publish lists showing off our expertise.
Our technicians are certified network surveillance specialists who provide cybersecurity support whenever clients call for help, and who maintain Managed Security programs for clients more comfortable with professional round-the-clock security monitoring. In either case, you can expect service and support that dive much deeper than the five fundamentals.