In just the past few years, spending on cybersecurity initiatives has soared. For example, Bank of America now boasts a “whatever it takes” attitude toward budgeting for IT security services and cybersecurity. That’s because it’s crucial for businesses to keep data secure while maintaining a network with maximum availability, productivity, and efficiency.
But what about other organizations that don’t have unlimited funds to throw at the problem? Adhering to IT security best practices doesn’t require a blank check, but it does take advance planning and attention to detail. If you’re an IT director looking to bolster security and keep cybercriminals out, then make sure you’ve incorporated each of these security features into your plan.
HANDLE THE BASICS.
Don’t neglect common security controls like firewalls, network-based antivirus protection, intrusion detection systems, and remote-access virtual private networks (VPNs). These basic protections lay the foundation for IT security and repel known cybersecurity threats.
Block unsafe traffic.
As the first line of defense, firewalls filter network traffic—both coming and going—using IP addresses, domain names, protocols, and ports.
Extend remote access.
Many organizations need a way to securely allow access to employees and contractors beyond the office walls. Remote-access VPNs create encrypted passageways that extend the network without compromising security.
Detect and respond to security threats.
Intrusion detection systems (IDSs) operate on networks or individual devices, monitoring traffic and alerting administrators about potential threats. Best-in-class IDSs are reactive, identifying suspicious or malicious traffic sources and responding to threats using predefined actions.
Comply with industry standards.
Most businesses face at least one set of compliance standards—like PCI DSS or HIPAA—to maintain the safety and integrity of consumer data. Instead of viewing these requirements as an unnecessary hassle, use the guidelines to find and close gaps in your IT security services.
Protect against the human factors.
Some of the biggest cracks in your IT security plan can result from the unknowing actions of employees. That’s why you need to set your workers up for success with consistent policies and regular education.
Just right access.
Every employee—from the CEO to the receptionist—should have the right amount of access needed to complete daily tasks. By updating passwords and removing user names for inactive accounts, you’ll know that unauthorized users will have a harder time accessing vital systems.
Promote regular training.
Educating workers about the latest cybersecurity threats can be a challenge. Look for ways to provide daily training tips that will keep information top of mind.
Boost awareness of social engineering tactics.
Most employees are honest and may not realize that fraudulent requests may come via trusted channels—like someone impersonating an IT department worker or even your CEO. Teach your people to be very cautious when giving up user names, passwords, or other sensitive information—especially via email or over the phone.
PREPARE FOR THE WORST.
Preventative measures keep data safe until they don’t. Know what you’ll do when disaster strikes and give the people in your organization opportunities to test those strategies in real life.
Maintain a data breach response plan.
Because so many organizations have experienced cybersecurity breaches, you can’t assume it won’t happen to your company. Take the time now to think about what steps you would take to limit the damage and prevent vulnerabilities—and have that plan ready to go.
Practice disaster recovery.
While most organizations maintain secure data backups and disaster plans, not as many take the next step and put those plans into action. Stage mock scenarios and you will quickly find out what worked and will expose any weaknesses.
PROACTIVELY MANAGING THREATS.
How does your company’s plan measure up? Managing IT security services requires plenty of planning, foresight, and manpower. If you have the first two handled, but are running short on staff, you may want to consider outsourcing cybersecurity measures.
Partnering with an established IT consulting firm means you’ll have access to best-in-breed tools and applications to keep networks running at a high level without compromising security. It can be a cost-effective way to deploy organizational resources while freeing up your in-house team to focus on business development projects.