Seven IT Security Best Practices for Implementing Optimal Protection of Your Network
A recent client shared their experience about the plethora of information about IT security. We admit, it can be overwhelming given the fast pace of technology, the growing threats, pressure to meet cybersecurity insurance requirements, compliance, and more. Our team put this information together to help you develop both a sense of calm, and of urgency - not to mention a continuous, organization-wide - sense of vigilance and risk avoidance.
Let's start with an important business question, the kind that perhaps keeps you awake at night, or at least has that potential!
Can you really afford the cost and horrendous inconvenience of a business interruption due to an IT security breach or blunder?
Data theft, malware, ransomware, phishing attacks -- these are all serious threats to any organization’s safety and security. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself from these cyber threats. Here are some best practices that you should consider implementing to fortify your network’s security - which we outline is this article. Specifically, we will discuss some of the essential security best practices that should be implemented within an organization's network infrastructure to help protect against a variety of cyber threats.
In the modern business world today, where technology and digital information are increasingly vulnerable to cyber threats, organizations must be vigilant in implementing security best practices for their networks. With hackers becoming more sophisticated in their techniques, organizations need to take proactive steps to protect themselves from potential data breaches or cyber-attacks. The risks posed by these malicious actors have never been greater and organizations need to ensure that they are well-equipped with the right tools and strategies needed to mitigate any potential threats.
Your protection plan must include the following:
1. Understand Your Network & Identify Your Assets
The first step in implementing IT security best practices for your network is to understand your network. You need to know what systems and data are on your network, how they are interconnected, and who has access to them. This information will help you identify potential security risks and vulnerabilities.
2. Perform Regular Risk Assessments & Audits
Once you have a good understanding of your network and its assets, the next step is to perform regular risk assessments and audits. These should be conducted on an ongoing basis in order to identify any potential security threats and vulnerabilities. This will help you better understand where your weaknesses lie so that you can take the necessary steps to strengthen your network’s security.
An IT security audit is a comprehensive and systematic review of an organization’s technical controls and processes to ensure that the organization's information assets and systems are safe from unauthorized access, misuse, modification, or destruction. The primary goal of the IT security audit process is to ensure that the organization has implemented appropriate protective measures to reduce the risk of a security breach.
3. Implement Access Controls & Encryption
It is important that organizations implement access controls and encryption measures to protect confidential data from unauthorized access. Access controls should be used to limit user access to only those resources required for their job function, while encryption should be used to protect data at rest and in transit. If you have sensitive data on your network, it is important to use encryption. Encryption is a process of transforming data so that it cannot be read by unauthorized individuals.
There are many different types of encryption, and choosing the right one depends on the type of data you are trying to protect. Our team can help you select the right third party encryption tools for your business protection.
4. Implement Physical Security Controls
Once you have identified your assets, you need to implement security controls to protect them. There are a variety of security controls available, including firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and encryption. You need to select the controls that are most appropriate for your environment and make sure they are properly configured and maintained.
Managing WiFi access is important so that your data and information stay secure. It is important to keep public WiFi access separate from internal WiFi access, so that people outside of your organization do not have access to sensitive information.
Here are five common WiFi access mistakes that businesses make today:
1. Not Enforcing Strong Passwords: The most common mistake companies make is not enforcing strong passwords for both their employees and guests. This makes it easier for an attacker to gain access to the network by using simple guesswork or brute-force attacks.
2. Not Refreshing Default Credentials: A lot of businesses don’t realize that many routers come with default usernames and passwords, which can easily be guessed or discovered online. It’s important to change these credentials as soon as you set up your router in order to ensure that malicious actors cannot gain access to your system.
3. Failure To Update Firmware/Software: Keeping your system updated is essential when it comes to maintaining a secure WiFi network. Make sure you keep up-to-date with any new firmware updates or software patches so that attackers cannot exploit any unpatched vulnerabilities in the system.
4. Lack Of Network Segmentation: Companies often forget about segmenting their networks into different VLANs (virtual local area networks). This helps prevent traffic from one segment from reaching another and keeps sensitive information away from prying eyes on public networks, such as guest users or hackers who may have gained access through weak security measures elsewhere.
5. Not Using Encryption: If you are not using encryption, then your data is exposed to anyone who can gain access to the network. Encryption ensures that only authorized users can view the data, making it much harder for attackers to steal sensitive information. It’s important to use either WPA2 or WPA3 wireless network encryption to secure your data.
5. Create Security Awareness & Training Programs
One of the most important security best practices is creating security awareness and training programs. These programs should include topics such as online safety, good password management, email safety, phishing, and other cyber threats. Your employees need to be educated on these topics so that they can protect themselves and your network from potential threats. They need to be aware of the potential risks and vulnerabilities associated with using the network and how to avoid them. They also need to know what to do if they suspect that their account has been compromised or if they receive suspicious emails or attachments.
Keep in mind, cybersecurity awareness and training may be required for your cybersecurity insurance. Check your policy. We offer an affordable, year-round awareness and training solution that meets your insurance requirements and your company’s needs.
6. Test Your Controls
It is important to regularly test your security controls to ensure that they are working properly. This can be done through internal testing or by hiring an external firm to conduct a penetration test. A penetration test simulates an attack on your system to identify any weaknesses in your defenses. Penetration testing is a way to check the security of a business network. People try to break into the network and see if it is secure. If there are weak spots, they can be fixed so that bad people can't get in. At a minimum, the following should be tested:
7. Monitor Your Network Traffic
You also need to monitor your network for signs of suspicious activity. This includes monitoring for unusual traffic patterns, unexpected changes in system configuration, and unauthorized access attempts. If you suspect that your system has been compromised, you should take immediate action to contain the damage and prevent further access by the attacker. Monitoring your network traffic can help you to detect suspicious activity and identify potential security threats. There are many different tools available that can help you monitor your network traffic, and it is important to choose the right tool for your specific needs.
Bonus Strategy #1: Use a Properly Configured Modern Firewall
Another important security measure is to use a firewall. A firewall is a system that helps to block unwanted traffic from entering your network. By configuring your firewall properly, you can help to prevent attackers from gaining access to your network. Additionally, firewalls can also be used to control what type of traffic is allowed on your network. This can help to ensure that malicious actors are unable to gain access to sensitive data or system resources. To protect your network from malicious intrusions, using a firewall with updated firmware is essential. Outdated firewalls do not offer the same amount of security as modern ones and should be replaced immediately to ensure maximum protection. With their advanced guard measures, new firewalls are far superior to legacy models – and we recommend a review of your firewall technology and configurations.
Bonus Strategy #2: Stay Up-to-Date on Technology and Expert Advice (Ever Vigilant and Always Prepared)
The final step in implementing IT security best practices for your network is to stay up-to-date on the latest security threats and vulnerabilities, and the best practices being used in your industry and for your mission critical applications. You should regularly review security news and information resources, patch any known vulnerabilities, monitor industry trends, and attend conferences or seminars that focus on cybersecurity. Staying informed about the latest security threats and vulnerabilities can help you protect your network from any potential attacks.
By following these steps above, and implementing the appropriate security controls, you can ensure that your network is secure and protected against potential threats. Additionally, it is important to remember that IT security best practices should be constantly reviewed and updated as technology evolves. As new threats emerge, you should make sure that your security controls are able to keep up with the changing landscape and keep your network safe. Implementing IT security best practices will help you protect your data, systems, and networks from malicious actors and prevent security breaches that could cause significant damage to your organization.
IT security is everyone's responsibility and best practices start at the top! Based on more than 30 years of network support and IT management services, setting a good example my senior management has a trickle effect. Vigilance at all levels matters. IT security best practices are essential for protecting the data and systems on your network. By identifying critical assets, implementing appropriate security controls, training employees on security protocol, monitoring network traffic, and staying up-to-date with the latest security threats, you can help to ensure that your network is secure and protected from malicious actors. Our recommendations regarding best practices will help you protect your organization from security breaches and other potential risks. Dive into each area, and develop a solid plan to address them!
CTS Services, Inc., is a full service IT support and managed services company, located in Bellingham, MA, serving clients across New England. When it comes to network security, we recommend a quarterly business review to keep pace with the best practices for your industry. In a technology advisory review, which also considers business factors, we examine cybersecurity and IT performance with the goal of an assessment of current technology and policy recommendations.
If you are ready to schedule a technology review, please visit https://www.ctsservices.com/techreview or call us at 508-528-7720.
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