IT Security: How to Keep Your Companies Data Safe
When you think of company security, what comes to mind? Many of us may imagine locks on doors, burglar alarms, security badges, non-disclosure agreements, and even physical security guards. But do you ever think about server firewalls, authentication factors, antivirus software, and data encryption?
Having a strong IT security system is every bit as important as securing your company’s physical assets. Read on to learn more about data security and how you can protect your business from devastating cyberattacks.
Make It a Priority
The first and most important thing you can do to protect your company’s data is to make cybersecurity a priority. Many business owners tend to have a mindset of “It won’t happen to me” or “I know how to avoid cyberattacks.” But the truth is that hackers don’t discriminate, and an attack could come from anywhere at any time if you’re not prepared.
Ransomware attacks alone cost large U.S. companies more than $5.6 million each year on average. And this is just one of the dozens of different attacks your company may face if you don’t take security seriously. You need to dedicate company time and resources to making sure you’re protected from these attacks.
Establish a Security Strategy
One of the first things you should do when improving your company’s cybersecurity is to establish a security strategy. In essence, this strategy will be your guidelines to what you’re working to protect and how you’re going to protect it. It will help to direct all of your cybersecurity efforts so you can use your resources wisely.
Take a look at your data and determine how much protection each piece of information needs – in other words, how critical it is to your company operation. Then take a look at the sorts of attacks you might be susceptible to and the latest protection against those attacks. Finally decide what sorts of internal controls you’ll implement to lower your risk of becoming a victim of these attacks.
Choose Your Employees Carefully
Oftentimes, the way that hackers get access to your company information is through your employees. Your employees have the most access to your company and deal with your sensitive information every day. Whether intentionally or not, they can give hackers an opening to steal your data.
When you’re hiring on new employees, make sure you conduct background checks on them, especially if you work in an especially data-sensitive field. It should go without saying that you don’t want to hire an employee with any history of cyberattacks. But you also want to watch out for people with any history of theft, embezzlement, fraud, or extortion.
Promote Employee Awareness
Even if your team is filled with stellar employees who would never knowingly endanger your company information, hackers can be clever. In fact, phishing schemes are among the most common forms of cyberattacks. These attacks involve tricking a person or business into revealing sensitive personal information, believing they are providing this information to a trusted person or organization.
Make sure your employees are aware of the most common forms of cyberattacks and how to spot them. Teach them appropriate cybersecurity measures, including the importance of protecting their personal machines. It’s a good idea to give regular training seminars so your employees stay up to date on the latest threats in the cybersecurity world.
While training your customers to recognize and avoid cyberattacks is important, it’s also a good idea to carefully manage permissions around your data. An employee can’t compromise information they don’t have, and not everyone in your company needs to know everything. While you certainly want to avoid setting up data silos, partitioning information can minimize the impact of a cyberattack if one does occur.
Determine which of your employees need different pieces of information and set up permissions for them to be able to access only those documents. This is especially important with top-security data that only upper-level managers and executives should have access to. It is a good idea to set up a permissions request system so employees have a route to get access to data they may need.
Require Strong Authentication
Once you have your permissions set up, it will be time to turn your attention to your authentication methods. Authentication is how a user – in this case, your employees – confirms that they do have permission to access the file they’re attempting to open. In many cases, this takes the form of passwords, but there are a number of different authentication options you can choose from.
Biometric authentication uses a person’s biology (usually their fingerprint) to confirm their identity. You can also require access to a different device or account to retrieve a confirmation number through text or email. In the best case scenario, you should use two factor authentication factors to protect your most sensitive documents.
Use Antivirus Software
Now that you’ve handled the personnel end of your cybersecurity concerns, you’ll need to take a look at your technological systems. One of the first steps you should take to secure your system is to install antivirus software on company computers. As the name suggests, these programs work to fight viruses and other malware that may try to infiltrate your system.
There are dozens of different antivirus software providers you can choose from, beginning with McAfee and Norton. Kapersky and Bitdefender also provide great protection, as does Webroot. ESET, Malwarebytes, and Sophos can all provide you the protection you need to keep your data safe.
How often do you see a software update reminder and close it out without running the update? We know that running updates can be time-consuming and may create challenges in keeping your systems running smoothly. But it is also one of the most important parts of your overall cybersecurity strategy.
While current security measures are designed to protect against current threats, hackers are always evolving. As soon as a new defense comes out, they find their way around it, and software developers must find a way to guard against that threat. Many software updates contain new patches that protect your system from new and emerging cybersecurity threats.
Run Regular Backups
In addition to running updates on a regular basis, it’s also incredibly important to run system backups. In essence, a backup saves all the data in your system to a secondary location that’s separate from your system itself. Not only can this protect you in the event of a system crash, but it can also protect you against some cyberattacks.
Certain forms of cyberattacks – ransomware, in particular – aim to attack your company by shutting down access to your data. Having a backup can completely nullify their attack strategy, since you can get access to your files from your secondary source. It is important to run backups on a regular basis so that you keep your information up to date.
Encrypt Your Files
The other way to keep your files safe from hackers and malware is to encrypt your data. Encryption scrambles your data so it looks like gibberish to anyone who tries to read it, but it can be unscrambled with a specific key. In fact, encryption is how ransomware scammers lock down your data before demanding money to send you the decryption key.
While some older forms of encryption could be broken by a skilled enough programmer, today’s methods are all but infallible. By encrypting your data, you make it useless to anyone who might want to use it with malicious intent. It may still be vulnerable to malware attacks, however, so the other measures we discussed are still important.
Focus on Network Security
Your company wireless network is another potential access point for potential hackers. While your individual files may be secured, a talented hacker could work their way into your digital network. From there, they may be able to grab encryption codes and sensitive files, not to mention inserting harmful programs that wreak havoc on your system.
It’s important to make sure your company’s network is as secure as your individual files. Start by encrypting your network itself with the strongest encryption available. You can also turn off the broadcasting function, making your network invisible to anyone who doesn’t know specifically how to find it.
Consider Cloud Storage
It may sound counterintuitive to suggest that, when you’re trying to keep your data safe, you should store it in the cloud. Many of us think of cloud storage as being unreliable and more prone to hacking. However, cloud security has evolved a lot in the last several years, and today’s security measures are among the best available.
Because cloud storage companies are in the business of securely storing data, they can dedicate a significant amount of their resources towards developing the most secure networks in the world. Even if your company invested a good amount into network security, your system wouldn’t match the caliber of these cloud storage companies. Storing your data in the cloud can keep it safer from malware and hackers.
Plan for Personal Device Use
All of the security measures we’ve discussed so far have related to your company systems. Employee training, backups, encryption, antivirus software, and so on are all under your control. But what do you do when an employee brings an unmanaged factor – a personal device – into your company sphere?
Banning personal devices at work isn’t practical, especially in today’s world of remote work. You need to account for these devices as part of your security strategy. Making sure your data is secured on the storage and network ends and that you have strong authentication requirements can help keep things safe even when employees work on personal devices.
Safeguard While Traveling
Oftentimes, physical theft gets overlooked when we’re talking about cybersecurity. You can have the safest network in the world with the best encryption and authentication requirements available. But if an employee stores logins or sensitive files on their computer and that computer gets stolen, your data could still be compromised.
Train every member of your team to use care when traveling with a device that’s used for company work. They should always lock laptops and other electronic devices in the trunk when they’re traveling by car. At hotels, laptops should go into the safe when not in use, and employees should take care to avoid laptops being snatched when they’re using public transit.
Handle Data Disposal Properly
Many people also forget to consider their data disposal when they’re securing their systems. Your current files may be perfectly protected and very hard to access. But if you dump last week’s backups into an unsecured recycling bin, a hacker could still retrieve incredibly sensitive company information.
Always make sure you delete files permanently right away, rather than dropping them in recycling bins. When an employee leaves the company, ensure that all their permissions are revoked immediately and that any company computers they may still have access to have their hard drives wiped. Likewise, make sure to wipe any computers that get replaced.
Set Up Strong IT Security
In today’s digital world, cybersecurity is every bit as important as locking up your physical merchandise and assets. Good IT security starts with well-trained employees and a strong security strategy. It’s also a good idea to use encryption, strong authentication requirements, and physical safeguards to protect your most sensitive information.
If you’d like to start setting up a better IT security system, check out the rest of our site at Be Structured Technology group. We are an award-winning Los Angeles IT support firm that provides responsive IT service, IT consulting and managed IT services. Schedule a consultation today and discover just how great IT support in Los Angeles can be.