If you’re serious about keeping your company’s data and computer systems secure, then cybersecurity should be a vital concern. If you don’t take steps to keep your systems secure, then hackers could easily exploit a weakness in them to steal customer and business data, or even bring your whole company to a grinding halt. It’s therefore essential that you put a full cybersecurity regime in place so that your systems remain fully secure at all times. As well as preventing these hacks from happening, you’ll also need a contingency plan in case of hackers still manage to break through.
An additional step against hackers is for organizations to develop a process called asset classification. Asset classification is a way for organizations to assign their assets into groups, based on a number of characteristics. It also allows organizations to determine which assets are most sensitive to a cyber-security attack. Most financial transactions are conducted online, so most asset classifications are prone to attack. Some types of asset classifications include:
- Cash, which includes online checking accounts and deposit accounts;
- Receivables, which includes trade transactions conducted online;
- Inventory, which includes raw materials, work-in-process, and finished goods, and
- Fixed Assets, such as computer software and networking equipment.
Once you prioritize which asset type will impact the organization the worst if an attack occurred, you can take additional safeguards to control those asset types.
Below, you’ll find the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre’s top ten tips for keeping your company fully protected while you navigate the world of cyberspace.
1. Risk Management is Key
Risk Management can simply be defined as the process of identifying any potential threats that could affect your organization and your agency response on how you intend to minimize those risks. Having a clear risk management system that’s implemented across your entire company is the most significant step you can take towards cybersecurity. To properly put this system in place, you will need to create a governance structure that is backed up by all the senior members of your company, to ensure that it is adhered to at all times. Creating an easily understandable list of policies and a code of good practice will make it easier for your employees to follow the system, too. Everyone involved with your company, from your staff to any contractors or suppliers you work with, needs to be clear on your risk management system, and how to avoid taking unnecessary risks with your company data.
2. Commit to Configuration
Cybersecurity should start from the ground up, so make sure you put processes in place for how you configure the technology that your company uses. A systematic configuration management approach across the board will bring a big boost to your systems’ security. Be sure to remove any functionality from the systems that you aren’t going to use, and take steps to resolve any known vulnerabilities- this is usually done through patching software. If you don’t do this, then there’s a real risk that hackers could exploit these vulnerabilities to hack into your systems.
3. A Secure Network
Every single one of the connections between your networks and the wider web could be a potential point for hackers to target and attack. By re-examining your network architecture, and the tech behind it, you’ll be able to dramatically cut down on the risks of these attacks. It’s likely that your company’s networks will be fairly broad, though, covering multiple sites as well as remote access sites and cloud services, so it’s hard to create a definite boundary to protect. Instead, concentrate your efforts on where key data is stored, and ensure these areas are fully protected.
4. Consider User Privileges
Should you provide users with system privileges or data access rights that they don’t actually require, then you run the risk of misuse of those rights, as well as them inadvertently making your systems vulnerable to attack. For that reason, make sure users are only given as many privileges as they need to properly carry out their role. Save full access solely for those who really need it.
5. Educate Your Users
Users form an integral part of your protection against cyber attackers- when used in the right way. They need to know how to utilize your systems in a safe and secure way, so be sure to regularly provide them with educational material and training to keep them conscious of cybersecurity, and how they fit into your wider process.
6. Incident Management
However careful you might be, it’s still highly likely that your company will experience a data breach or other security incident at least once. When this happens, you need to be prepared- so be sure to put incident management policies and process in place well in advance. That way, when disaster strikes, your business continuity won’t be dramatically affected, and you can convince customers and shareholders that you are acting quickly, thereby improving public trust. The faster you act, the smaller the impact will be. You may want to contact external incident management specialists for tips on how to create an effective incident management process.
7. Malware Protection
Malware, meaning “malicious software”, refers to any code or content which could have a negative impact on your computer systems. Every time you upload or download any content from the internet, you run the risk of picking up malware in the process, which could ultimately lead to a data breach. That’s why it’s vital to take action against malware- make sure you have proper antivirus software installed across all your tech, and avoid downloading anything from an unverified source.
8. Monitor Your Systems
Keeping a close eye on the status of your systems will help to catch any attempted or actual attacks fast, allowing you to act quickly to prevent them from succeeding. Proper monitoring is, therefore, an integral part of any cybersecurity plan. It also has the added benefit of ensuring your systems are only being used for their intended purposes. In many cases, monitoring is necessary to stay in compliance with your legal and regulatory requirements as well, so make sure you carry it out.
9. Removable Media Processes
Removable media, such as flash drives and external hard drives, are another entry port into your systems for malware and viruses. Their use, if left unchecked, could lead to a data breach. You should therefore only use removable media where necessary for business operations, and put security processes in place to keep things secure when it is used.
10. Remote Access
Allowing your employees to work from a remote location brings big benefits to your business, but it could also lead to a whole new set of risks that you need to take care of. If you’re going to allow remote access to your systems, then make sure your risk-based policies take this into account and keep those users aware of how they can use their mobile devices safely and securely to prevent cyber attacks and data breaches.
About the Author:
Fatmir Hyseni is the CMO of Kosbit, a global full vendor for AT&T and a Growth Lead for Kuest a software development agency. As an award-winning Chartered Marketer, Fatmir is passionate about digital transformation, cybersecurity, and tech startups and contributes to several digital and technology blogs, including Forbes.