It’s not too late for small to midsize businesses (SMBs) to resolve to improve their cybersecurity practices. Over half of all companies surveyed never had a security assessment performed on their network.
The good news is that there are still five cybersecurity resolutions businesses can make this year that will help ensure their data and assets remain protected.
1. Improve Your Password Policy
Passwords are the first line of defense against cybercriminals. If they gain access to a password, they can create havoc on your network. Worse yet, hackers could use the same login credentials across multiple platforms and devices – so if one account is compromised, it could expose an entire business.
Although many companies have adopted password policies and enforced them for employees, many still lack the key components to make their policy effective.
The best passwords incorporate upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols while being lengthy. They should be unique to each user and changed regularly. In addition, they should also never be shared, which means disabling the “Remember Password” feature on mobile devices.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is an extra layer of security that requires more than just a username and password to access a device or account. This type of authentication uses two or more factors, such as something you know (password), something you have (security token), or something you are (fingerprint).
There are many MFA systems available, and many are encrypted. An encrypted system will scramble your data so that it cannot be read without the proper decryption key. This key is only known by the authorized user.
2. Ensure You Have a Business Continuity Plan
From hurricanes and floods to ransomware and blackouts, there’s no shortage of natural and manmade disasters that can put your business at risk. Although unexpected events like these are difficult to prepare for, having a plan in place will help you minimize the impact of disruptions on your business.
A business continuity plan should include steps for restoring services, where to find backup equipment and software, restoration timeframes, and pre-established communication protocols.
A business continuity plan will include the following elements:
- Critical business functions
- Minimum processing capability during a disaster
- Minimum data storage capacity
- Less critical processing priorities
- Minimum data security controls required to protect the minimum level of information necessary for day-to-day operations
3. Stay Up-to-Date on Vulnerability Patches
Vulnerabilities are another common threat that can wreak havoc on businesses if they’re not patched. Well-known vulnerabilities are often the target of zero-day attacks, so keeping software updated is critical to maintaining security.
If your business falls behind on updates or patches, it leaves open the possibility that hackers could exploit known vulnerabilities. If you’re not sure what patches and updates apply to which systems, consider investing in a vulnerability assessment tool. Some of these tools can automatically scan your entire network and identify vulnerabilities, such as missing patches and updates, in minutes.
4. Involve Your IT Service Provider in Business Decisions
IT professionals often work with business owners to establish the best security practices for their company. Although many businesses might think that IT has the final say when it comes to security, they also need to be involved in the decision-making process since they see firsthand what’s happening across their network.
In order to maintain a close relationship with your IT team, you should have regular meetings where both IT and business owners share information about updates, patches, testing procedures for new technology implementations, and issues that affect the business.
5. Diversify the Way You Store and Process Data
As networks expand and evolve, they often become more complex. This means that the systems behind your network need to be flexible as well.
If you store all of your data in one location or use a single method for processing it, your entire business could come crashing down if that location or method is compromised. In order to guard against this possibility, it’s a good idea to diversify the way your data is stored and processed.
For example, storing some of your files on-site and others in the cloud will help ensure availability should something happen at one location. Meanwhile, processing some workflows internally and others with a third-party vendor could mitigate the risk of a system failure or security breach.
There are many ways cybersecurity threats can impact your business, but if you have a solid foundation in place these risks can be minimized.
ThrottleNet can help businesses take the necessary steps to secure their systems and protect their data. We offer a range of services, including vulnerability assessments, patch management, and security consulting, that can help businesses stay up-to-date on the latest threats and vulnerabilities.