Sure, your passwords might be eight characters long, and yeah, you might update your software every so often — but in truth, these actions provide only minor benefit in the interminable war against cyber threats. Millions of cybercriminals desperately want access to your company’s juicy data, and it is your responsibility to keep all avenues to your data locked down tight. If you are doing the bare minimum to uphold security, you aren’t doing enough. Here are three major ways you can protect your business from cyberattack now and into the future.
Securing Your Endpoints
“Endpoints” is a fancy word to describe the devices that you and your employees use to connect with one another and the business network. These largely include computers, but they also include smartphones and other smart devices — any user-facing tool that connects to your business network. Generally, when businesses are doing the least to keep their data protected, they are engaging with bare-bones endpoint security, like antivirus tools and password protection. However, there is much more to endpoint security than you might expect.
Endpoints are the weakest link in your business’s digital assets because they come into contact with human users, and humans are the number-one cause of data breaches. You and your employees likely don’t know much about secure behavior, so you will download weird apps, open strange messages, navigate to untrustworthy websites and more, permitting malware to get onto the device and potentially proliferate across the network. What’s more, many businesses permit some form of BYOD, which means insecure behavior off the clock could have ramifications on your business.
Thus, endpoint security mainly concerns controlling how devices are used to mitigate risks. In general, endpoint security solutions allow businesses to monitor endpoint usage and whitelist or blacklist certain applications or behaviors. This ensures that devices are used safely for work and unlikely to introduce threats to your business network.
Securing Your Network
Speaking of your business network, you need security tools to protect it, too. Data doesn’t only exist on endpoints; it rushes back and forth amongst endpoints, servers, routers, switches and other devices throughout your business offices and all around the world. Often, the data your business uses is sensitive; it includes financial account numbers, addresses and phone numbers, intellectual property and more. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are desperate for the kind of data that businesses collect because they can use it for financial gain or to launch additional cyberattacks.
Thus, having strong, layered network security is imperative. Each layer of network security provides different controls on the data and devices of the network. Some examples of network security layers include:
Network firewalls. Firewalls determine what kind of traffic is allowed on the network. They effectively thwart certain types of behaviors on the network.
Encryption. By encrypting the data that flows through your network, you prevent anyone peering in from outside your network easy access.
Traffic monitoring. By monitoring your traffic, you are likely to identify bad actors as soon as they emerge on your network. Then, you can stop an attack before it is well underway.
Response plan. If your network is compromised, you need to have a thorough plan for handling the breach, which should include tools and techniques for re-securing your network.
Teaching Your Workers
Finally, your business will never be safe if neither you nor your employees truly understand the whys, whats and hows of cybersecurity. You need to expend energy to teach your employees not just how to generate a strong password but also why maintaining a password is necessary. You should do the same with every secure behavior you expect from your employees, from updating their software to avoiding connections with unknown wi-fi networks.
It’s important to note that you don’t have to do this personally; in fact, if you are shaky on your cybersecurity knowledge and skill, it is wise to outsource security training. You might request your IT team to hold quarterly security workshops; you can pay for your staff to attend community college courses on cyber hygiene; there are dozens of ways to educate on this issue, and you need to do so to keep your business safe and secure.
Thoughts and prayers aren’t enough to keep your business safe. Fortunately, products and services that will protect your business are available right now, and the sooner you acquire them, the better.
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