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Andrew Tyler

By: Andrew Tyler on September 2nd, 2019

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The 10 Cybersecurity Tools You Need to Stay Secure

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity risks have been on the rise in recent years, and products and services have been constantly evolving to keep up with these threats:

  • 83 percent of organizations say that they experienced phishing attacks in 2018, up from 76 percent in 2017.
  • Social engineering attacks use psychology to trick people into revealing sensitive information such as passwords and credit card numbers by impersonating a trusted authority.
  • Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are a new (and lucrative) attack target.

Despite the ever-changing face of the cybersecurity landscape, there are a few types of tools and services that will always be a good choice for your IT environment. This article will discuss 10 essential tools that any organization needs in its cybersecurity toolbox.

10 Essential Cybersecurity Tools

1. IDS/IPS

Intrusion detection systems (IDS) and intrusion prevention systems (IPS) are software applications that monitor your network traffic for signs of malicious activity or security violations.

IDS software compares network activity against a database of known threats to detect potential cyber attacks and then generates an alert. IPS software allows for both detection and prevention of suspicious network activity.

Both IDS and IPS solutions detect threats in the form of malware, spyware, viruses, and other types of attacks, as well as threats posed by security policy violations. Each of your endpoint systems should be covered by IDS/IPS software that can generate alerts and/or take action when an anomaly is discovered.

2. Next-generation firewalls

Firewalls are hardware- or software-based network security applications that prevent unauthorized incoming and outgoing traffic, using a defined set of security rules, in order to better protect the network from potentially malicious activity.

The good news is that most next-gen firewalls already come with IDS/IPS software built into them. Some other features of a good firewall include:

3. Anti-malware and antivirus software

Anti-malware and antivirus software are applications that identify, block, and remove malware and viruses. Potentially suspicious files are compared against a database of known threats though some applications will also attempt to detect malicious software by evaluating the way it behaves/acts.

The most important features for your anti-malware and antivirus software are:

  • Receiving a notification when a suspicious file is detected
  • Identifying files as good, bad, or potentially harmful
  • Tailoring anti-malware policies to surveil specific users or groups

4. Endpoint security

Each device on your network—from desktops and laptops to tablets and data center servers—is an endpoint that can become a potential attack vector for cybercriminals. These days, the biggest endpoint threats are smartphones: they’re usually personal devices, difficult to track, and work better when connected to the Internet.

The most overlooked threat are networked printers. If improperly secured, they can also make for an easy entry into your network.

Look for a security solution that can organize and control the endpoints on your network according to their role or function. HP printers boast built-in security features to combat threats like unencrypted data, uncontrolled access, sensitive document protection, and threat detection.

It’s also a good idea to lock down your guest network, keeping these devices completely separate from the rest of the organization.

5. VPNs

A virtual private network (VPN) creates a private communication channel that’s established over a non-private physical network, such as the Internet. VPNs are an essential part of any multi-site network because they’re inherently secure. You can use them to access websites and content that are restricted to certain IP addresses and geographical regions, such as a corporate intranet.

Regardless of which option you choose, any VPN solution must use a highly secure encryption standard such as AES-256.

6. Cloud security and backups

As the cost of cloud storage continues to decline, it becomes an increasingly attractive option for backing up your essential business data. According to a Unitrends survey, thirty six percent of companies now report using the cloud to back up their files and applications.

Cloud storage has much to recommend it, such as good security and protection from physical and natural disasters.

It’s generally a best practice to store backups both physically on-site and off-site in the cloud. Physical backups on disk can help you get back up and running quickly after a catastrophe, while your secondary backups in the cloud are there if your physical backups are damaged or destroyed.  However, the backup solution in use should be ransomware aware in order to make sure that backups do not become part of the problem if ransomware should strike.

7. Network security

You also need to protect the data being sent through the devices on your network to ensure that the information is not changed or intercepted en route. All wireless LANs should use the 802.1X standard and Network Access Control (NAC). This allows you to prevent unauthorized people from logging into the network.

8. Encryption

Encryption is mandatory for certain businesses in industries such as healthcare that handle sensitive and confidential information. Data that’s encrypted cannot be accessed without the encryption key, even if it falls into the hands of an attacker. Your choice of encryption solution should protect data both while in place and in transit.

9. Email security

Choose an email provider that has a robust automated filters for detecting threats such as spam, phishing, scams, and viruses. Of course, even the best products will have a few messages slip through the filter. That’s why you also need to raise employee awareness on how to identify fraudulent messages.

For example, some managed service providers (MSPs) will help you launch simulated phishing attacks on your network, so that you can test how well staff members would respond in a real phishing situation.

10. Cybersecurity awareness training

In addition to a network firewall, your employees can also constitute a “human firewall” by learning about IT security tools and best practices. Your staff can and should form an important line of defense against cyberattacks.

Rather than giving a PowerPoint presentation just once per year, you should keep cybersecurity consistently present in your employees’ thoughts, e.g. with an engaging and informative newsletter or better yet some simple interactive training regimen.

No Business is Immune

Cybersecurity can be overwhelming and intimidating if your organization doesn’t have a vast pool of expertise to draw from. Working with a trusted MSP like Kelser makes it easy to roll all these cybersecurity tools and features into a single monthly expense for your organization. In addition, your MSP can manage this hardware and software on your behalf to ensure that it’s correctly configured, patched with the latest updates, and running at maximum efficiency.

Want to learn more about the most popular cyber threats (and how to mitigate them)? Download our free ebook "10 Simple Things to Improve Your Company’s Cybersecurity Posture."

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About Andrew Tyler

Andrew, Senior Consulting Engineer at Kelser, believes in persistence, technical excellence and creativity in developing solutions – and adapting them – until our professional services clients are confident in what the technology will do for their business.