The Best Cybersecurity Practices for Businesses in 2021

Given the amount of internet connected devices in our modern world, it is absolutely necessary to secure them as best as possible, whether personal or work-related. 

Almost all business data and workloads are connected to or hosted on an online system. This poses a great risk for any business. Luckily there are few steps you can take in order to maintain the integrity of your network.

  • Educate Your Staff: a solid foundation for good cybersecurity
  • Restrict Access: audit files and folders with access levels
  • Update Regularly: outdated software can pose security risks
  • Secure Your Network: a proactive approach to network monitoring
  • Understand Hacking: Social Engineering is as big a risk as digital intrusion

By making these small but very effective changes you can enable your business’ online network to thrive. This will help you be vigilant and confident about the security of the system and its users going forward into 2021 and beyond.  

Reduce User Error by Educating Staff

According to one of the world’s leading cybersecurity researchers, the most common causes of a network breach are lost, stolen or weak passwords. While it might be up to the network administrator to provide passwords, often they are not the most secure and many companies will allow individual users to change them.

Therefore, the responsibility is on the company to educate its staff. Teach them to create strong and secure passwords, the risks of sharing passwords, and how to lock a terminal when away from their workstation.

“Bring Your Own Device” policies are becoming more prevalent in the workplace so education in device security has never been more necessary. Teaching staff about securing these devices is imperative. Because of the risks posed by mobile devices, it is also necessary to provide encryption software where it is needed.

Place Authorized Access on Sensitive Areas

Many documents or areas of a network can be highly sensitive. As such, they may need to be protected as a matter of client confidentiality, employee records or even protection from corporate espionage. In these cases it may be necessary to restrict access to information on particular areas of a network.

Access to some software or hardware should only be granted on a “need to know” hierarchical basis. Most operating systems such as Windows can be configured for such needs. However this requires professional knowledge of the system, so consulting an IT service provider might be the best option if you don’t employ a costly in-house IT support team.

Keep Software Up to Date

We all know that keeping antivirus software updated is the first step in combating malicious intent, and it is an extremely important one. However most people don’t realize that many software and apps such as e-readers, email clients and internet browsers can be exploited for access into a network.

All software should be updated as soon as any new version or patch is released. This will almost always guarantee that any previously identified vulnerabilities are secured.

That being said, hardware exploits, although not as common, can also be a problem for network security. Replacing items such as networked printers, switches and routers should be done whenever a new generation is released.

Actively Monitor Network Traffic

Given the always-connected nature of a modern network, the risks posed by malicious intruders are present 24-hours a day. This means that constant network monitoring is an absolute must for any business that is serious about its network security.

Real-time monitoring ensures that every incident can be logged and reviewed should any problems arise. This will provide a traceable pattern should any suspicious alerts be of concern. 

Employing full time, round-the-clock network administrators or outsourcing to a specialist IT management company are options that must be considered. Taking a proactive approach the integrity of your network will almost always terminate any issues before they have a chance to begin.

Be Aware that Not All Hacking Is Digital 

The foundation of hacking as a form of company intrusion has its roots in what is called Social Engineering. This is when a real life person uses deception to gain access to otherwise privileged information by posing as a company employee or someone in authority.

The human element of this type of hacking makes it more dangerous than digital. This occurs since many people aren’t consciously aware to be on the lookout for this unless they have been trained. Employees should be advised not to divulge any information of any type that is sensitive to the company or any individual over any means of communication, including face to face.

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