The internet is a big driving force behind the growth of many Australian businesses. It allows companies to reach new customers, collaborate with staff, and implement powerful technologies such as cloud computing. However, cybercriminals are also using the internet to meet their nefarious goals like spreading malware and attacking company devices. Tightening your defences and keeping your business cyber safe should be your prime concern.
Assessing your cybersecurity status
The path to cyber safety starts by evaluating your exposure to cyber-threats. Take an inventory of your networks, hardware, software, data, and users, and assess how secure each of these elements are. Cybersecurity experts like Empower IT can help you with this process by conducting penetration tests and vulnerability scans. These test the strength of your current security frameworks using simulated attacks and review where your business stands in terms of cyber safety.
Human error is also a major contributor to data breaches, so it’s worth surveying your processes and employees’ IT practices. For all you know, employees may be disclosing sensitive and proprietary information online.
You can then use the information learned from these assessments to build an action plan to secure your digital environment.
Securing your digital environment
1. Promote good password hygiene
Good password hygiene means everyone in the company understands the importance of setting strong and unique passwords for their accounts. At the very least, passwords should be a 12-character-long sequence with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols. They should be easy to remember but hard to guess, so avoid using birthdays and pet names as passwords. A simple way to create a strong password is to create random, yet memorable passphrases like “vicious64jukebox!”
If creating and remembering passwords for all your accounts becomes too complicated, however, consider password managers like 1Password and Dashlane. These generate and store all your passwords in a highly encrypted vault.
2. Implement multifactor authentication (MFA)
No matter how strong your passwords may be, relying on one method of identity verification to secure user accounts is a bad idea. If cybercriminals manage to crack your passwords, there’s no stopping them from stealing data and sabotaging your business. MFA tools strengthen your security by requiring additional authentication factors such as time-based SMS codes or facial ID scans. This makes it exponentially more difficult for cybercriminals to compromise your accounts.
3. Use a VPN
VPNs, or virtual private networks, create an encrypted connection to the internet from a device to a network. They effectively hide incoming and outgoing internet traffic, preventing cybercriminals from intercepting sensitive data and monitoring your online activities. This enables employees to work outside the office and access company systems online with minimal cybersecurity risks.
4. Protect company devices
Laptops and mobile devices are susceptible to a slew of cyberthreats, so it’s important to use a device management platform like Microsoft Intune. It allows you to monitor the condition of each device, set access privileges, and isolate devices that may pose a risk to your company network. If a smartphone is lost or stolen, for example, Intune lets you remotely wipe its data to prevent data breaches.
It’s also crucial to install and regularly update anti-malware software. This enables you and your employees to detect and remove malicious programs that may be siphoning data and compromising company devices.
5. Update your software
Outdated software often comes with a host of security vulnerabilities that can increase your company’s risk of cyberattacks. By installing the latest patches, you close security holes that allow hackers to infiltrate your systems. To streamline this process, consider using centralised patch management tools to deploy updates to all company-managed devices.
6. Check app permissions and privacy settings
Review the settings of the applications on your company devices. Many apps collect sensitive information in the background, which can put your business at risk if these are ever compromised. Other apps also request access to your mobile device’s camera, contacts, microphone, and geolocation. Minimise potential threats by limiting information sharing settings and permissions, and uninstall any unused apps.
7. Safeguard your network
To secure your network, you must install advanced firewalls and intrusion prevention systems. These protections inspect network traffic for malicious activity like unusual file downloads and attempted access to malware-laden websites.
8. Educate employees on security best practices
The previous tips won’t do your company any good if employees have no awareness of cybersecurity. This is why regular security training is so crucial. Employees must be critical of every email and website they encounter. If they receive an unsolicited message with strange links and attachments, for example, they should instantly know that it’s a phishing attack.
They should also learn to be careful of what they post on social media. Sharing personal information, office photos, and locations can give cybercriminals a wealth of information to commit identity fraud and other online scams.
Getting professional support
While there are many elements that go into ensuring your company’s cyber safety, dependable managed IT services providers (MSPs) can simplify everything for you. These companies hire dozens of cybersecurity experts who can objectively assess your IT infrastructure and recommend solutions that fit your needs.
When choosing an MSP to protect your business, make sure they have a good track record and powerful security solutions. Empower IT, for instance, takes a multilayered approach to security with network monitoring, advanced threat prevention, endpoint protection, and security training services. What’s more, we’re partnered with industry leaders in cybersecurity like Microsoft and Duo, so you can rest easy knowing your cyber safety is assured.
If you need assistance with anything regarding cybersecurity, get in touch with Empower IT today.