Cybersecurity: What to Know and Where to Start

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Few people could have predicted how crucial cybersecurity would become in recent years. Security Intelligence reports that cyberattacks are among the top problems threatening international stability.

But even on a smaller scale, cyberattacks can devastate and destroy businesses. The following are 6 detailed steps you can take to keep your company as secure as possible.

1.  Take Good Inventory

Your business should start by taking an IT inventory. According to CSO, this includes taking account of IT assets and the individuals that access the network. You’ll also need to analyze current cybersecurity reports, policies and processes.

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Related: The Importance of Good Technology in Business

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You’ll need to divide all online information into distinct categories. Knowing what type of information you currently have will give you a better idea regarding exactly what needs to be done to safeguard that information. In simplest terms you’ll need to do the following:

  • Inventory Information – Know and keep accurate records of exactly what types of information your company has.
  • Classify Information – Start by dividing information into areas such as employees, patients, customers, financial records and internal reports. Then further classify information into categories that includes highly confidential, for internal use only and information that can be made public.
  • Reassess Information – It’s imperative to analyze how data is classified on a regular basis. You should also evaluate exactly who in your organization has access to different types of data.

2. Build a Cybersecurity Plan

Building an effective cybersecurity plan includes the usual recommendations such as regularly backing up data and limiting access to highly sensitive data to as few individuals as possible.

There are several steps you should take when building a security plan.

  • Understand Your Risks – Look at your inventory. What is the most important information you have? What areas are the highest priority for protection?
  • Conduct a Stress Test – You need to have a test conducted, preferably by an outside company. A penetration test will reveal exactly where your vulnerabilities are.
  • Create a Security Plan – A security plan should address your most important information and your prominent weaknesses. This plan should also be built around the company’s business objectives.
  • Get Specific – Exactly how will you protect your data? This may involve limiting access except for the highest level employees. It may involve updating your firewall or providing better security for your wireless.
  • Plan for the Worst – Not only should you have a plan in place to protect against cyberattacks, but a plan in case it does actually occur.
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3. Provide Employee Training

After a specific plan is in place, it is time to train employees. Employee training is necessary for maintaining the highest levels of cybersecurity. TechRepublic states that security training should be part of every employee’s training from the first day a new hire starts.

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Related: When to Look for an IT Support Specialist

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It’s also crucial to focus on social engineering tactics since this is an area where your employees may be especially vulnerable. Firewalls and other types of technical security are obviously important, but your greatest risk often involves schemes such as phishing and tailgating.

4. Maintain Active Network Monitoring

It’s important to monitor your networks on a regular basis. Active network monitoring involves testing in real-time using a variety of methods that inject additional traffic into your network. Active monitoring has benefits over passive monitoring in that you can collect specific data that tests traffic in real-time instead of basing results on long-term information.

In other words, it’s a controlled experiment and not just an observation.

As important as active monitoring is, it’s also crucial to be proactive regarding potential threats your particular industry may face. Proactive monitoring also means thinking outside the box and anticipating what types of threats you may be facing in the future.

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Related: 3 IT Solutions To Ward Off Hackers

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According to Forbes, hackers are not only looking to gain personal information, such as social security numbers, but may soon be expanding into areas such as intelligent automation. This means medical devices may be especially vulnerable.

5. Consider Cloud Computing

If you don’t already have your data in the cloud there are several important reasons why you should. Business 2 Community lists several reasons why keeping your data in the cloud is a better option than keeping it on individual computers.

Data kept in the cloud is generally more secure than an in-house computer system. Cloud-based warehouses have the ability to monitor, detect and patch on a much broader scale than most in-house systems. As an added bonus, cloud computing offers greater speed and accessibility for your employees.

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6. Work with an Experienced Professional

No matter how good your internal IT team may be, it will almost always be necessary at some point to bring in an outside source. This is especially true for small and midsize businesses that may not have it in their budget to employ full-time IT specialists.

While every business needs to make cybersecurity a priority, what each business needs from their security and IT team will differ. For example, while all businesses need information security, what that looks like in practical terms may be different. Some will need more asset protection while others will need a greater level of technical support. Some companies are more susceptible to malware attacks while for others their employees may have already been victims of social engineering schemes.

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