7 Cybersecurity Tips To Protect Medium-Sized Businesses
According to IBM the global average cost of a data incident has increased 15 percent since 2020. Keeping data safe is essential for every business no matter the size or industry.
Cybersecurity is top of mind for any business leader who watches the news. Whether you are a member of the leadership team or responsible for an internal IT at a medium-sized organization, this article is for you!
Anyone who is looking for information they can use to secure data, devices, and infrastructure will benefit from the 7 cybersecurity tips highlighted in this article.
This list is based on our 40 years of IT experience with companies in a variety of industries. Don't worry though, we aren't writing this article to convince you to work with us. Instead, we believe in providing the information you need to keep your organization protected.
Implement These 7 Cybersecurity Tips To Keep Your Organization Safe
Cyber threats continue to evolve. Here are 7 things you can do to keep your medium-sized business safe:
1. Limit Access
Most organizations focus on limiting physical access to server rooms, data centers, and other physical locations. That's a great start, but our experience shows that many medium-sized organizations aren't as diligent about limiting access to technology and information.
When you stop to think about it though, does your financial organization need access to your engineering designs or manufacturing processes and machining tools?
Use a balanced approach that allows access to the tools and systems people need to do their jobs, while protecting your most sensitive information and resources from prying eyes. It only takes one person with malicious intent (and easy access) to wreak havoc on your entire organization.
Related article: What Is Role-Based Access? (Benefits For IT & Users)
2. Back Up Data
The best defense against a cyber incident is taking proactive measures.
We often see a disconnect between the act of backing up data and the ability to quickly access it in an emergency.
Backups are valuable tools that allow you to revert to the most recent uncontaminated files quickly in the event of an incident.
So, make sure that you not only back up your data regularly, but that you know how to quickly access the most recent back up in an emergency.
Related article: Data Backups Are Key To Disaster Recovery
3. Provide Security Awareness Training
One of the most cost-effective (and under used) cybersecurity tools is employee security awareness training.
Regularly scheduled awareness training keeps employees informed about existing and emerging cyber threats and provides tools they can use to report suspicious activities, empowering them to act as a human firewall and contribute to the overall security of your business.
This training also keeps security top of mind for everyone in your organization.
4. Update Systems & Software
Software and system updates are provided to enhance efficiency and to plug security gaps.
Updates are issued often and should be implemented quickly. If an update has been issued it means that until you install the update, your systems are vulnerable to a cyber incident. Make installing updates a priority!
5. Develop A Recovery Plan
The common thinking in cybersecurity circles today is that it’s not a question of if, but when a given organization will fall victim to a cyber incident.
Again, the best defense is a proactive approach. Develop a plan that will guide you during a crisis. By thinking ahead, you will be able to take the time you need to develop a strategic plan rather than responding in crisis mode.
Developing this plan will also help you identify potential areas of vulnerability or gaps, limit the damage of an incident, and allow you to remediate quickly and effectively. Some tools you can use to identify your risk include vulnerability scans and penetration tests.
You’ll also have the time to spot areas where you can improve your processes and protections before you need them.
Related article: 10 Steps To Include In Your IT Disaster Recovery Plan
6. Implement Technology Tools
Technology tools run the gamut from firewalls to password managers. Here are several that we recommend implementing:
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Multifactor authentication is a cost-effective cybersecurity tool and most newer platforms include it, so it's simply a matter of turning it on.
By requiring multiple pieces of identification (such as a combination of username, password and biometric or another blend of identifiers), MFA helps ensure that only authorized users gain access.
Password managers securely save passwords for websites and applications and store them in a vault that can be accessed with one secure password.
Related article: 3 Advantages And Disadvantages Of Password Managers
Proactive monitoring can alert you to suspicious activity on your network, allowing for quicker response to unauthorized access, and remediation of threats. There are a variety of automated tools and systems that can provide real-time monitoring of your IT environment.
Mobile Device Management (MDM)
MDM allows your mobile devices to be remotely configured, monitored, supported, controlled, and secured. MDM is primarily used to track and lock down devices in specific ways or configure mobile devices for a specific need.
Stolen or lost devices can be remotely wiped with MDM, making them unusable and keeping the data stored on them safe.
Antivirus & Anti-Malware Software
Antivirus software protects against viruses and other known malicious software like ransomware and spyware.
Anti-malware proactively scans networks and data for new threats that can penetrate antivirus software. It constantly tracks exactly what’s running where and when across your endpoints, alerting you if a program suddenly turns malicious, containing and remediating it.
Related article: What Is Ransomware? How Does It Work? How To Avoid It
Encryption scrambles data to help protect information from hackers or other unauthorized people. A decryption key (which can consist of a password or series of numbers) is required to decode the data when it arrives at its destination.
Encryption helps businesses that store or transmit sensitive information keep the data safe.
DNS-based Web Filtering Solutions
Domain Name Services (DNS) identify web addresses.
DNS-based web-filtering protection tools block malicious websites at the network or endpoint device level and ensure that the address you think you are going to is legitimate and hasn’t been compromised before you get there.
Virtual Private Network (VPN)
A VPN establishes a virtual point-to-point connection allowing data to travel unseen and unchanged through a private tunnel. It also protects the integrity of the data, ensuring that it remains unchanged in transit.
Related article: What Is A Virtual Private Network (VPN)? Does My Business Need One?
7. Protect Internal Wi-Fi Networks
Wired equivalent privacy (WEP) offers some encryption, but most businesses today have embraced wireless protected access (WPA) technology as the industry’s best-in-class encryption option.
And establish a separate guest Wi-Fi network. Allowing guests to access your organization’s Wi-Fi is a serious security risk. Many routers and networks provide straightforward options for establishing separate guest Wi-Fi networks and it is not usually difficult.
And don’t forget to password protect all internal networks.
Related article: Does My Business Need A Separate Guest Wi-Fi Network?
What's The Bottom Line?
The bottom line is that cyber threats continue to emerge every day. Your security tools need to keep pace.
In this article we've explored seven cybersecurity tips that will help keep your business or organization safe.
You now know the importance of limiting (physical and electronic) access, backing up your data, and providing security awareness training for your employees.
You understand the importance of updating your systems and software, developing a recovery plan, and implementing technology tools (such as MFA, password managers, monitoring, MDM, antivirus and anti-malware software, encryption, DNS-based web filtering solutions, and VPNs).
We also covered the vital need to protect your internal networks.
Here's the thing, when implementing cybersecurity tools, think layers.
In the same way that fences, lights, cameras, and security systems provide different levels of security for your home, cybersecurity tools are not stand alone solutions. Every additional tool you implement enhances the security of your devices and your entire network.
While tools like firewalls, MFA, and password managers are a good start, one layer of cybersecurity protection is no longer enough for most organizations. And, as the new threats continue to emerge, the tools you relied on yesterday, last week, last month or last year, may no longer be enough.
It's important to stay ahead of the curve. If you have a full complement of technical people on your staff, you may be able to handle this responsibility internally. If not, you may need external support. I encourage you to get the tools you need in place in whatever way works best for your organization.
If you decide to explore external IT support, I encourage you to explore several options to ensure that you get a proactive cybersecurity solution that meets your organization's needs.
Read this article to learn criteria you can use to select the right IT provider.
Kelser provides a full complement of managed IT support, but we know that isn't the right solution for everyone. We also know cybersecurity can be overwhelming especially for medium-sized businesses that might not have the financial resources to hire a full complement of IT staff.
If there comes a time when you want to talk with a human, we’d welcome the opportunity to learn about your business, your goals, and your technology pain points. To start a conversation. Just click the button below and we’ll schedule a 15-minute phone chat at your convenience.