When it comes to cybersecurity practices, there is an overwhelming amount of options available today, which can make it hard for businesses to figure out what they need. It’s easy to think you need newest and most expensive cybersecurity technology with all the bells and whistles to be protected. But the truth is that every business will have different needs and will need to develop cybersecurity practices that suit their specific business goals and strategies. If you don’t align your cybersecurity with your business objectives, chances are all your fancy security practices will end up hindering your business. There are, however, a number of critical cybersecurity practices that every business should consider. Each of these practices are all easy to implement and will leave your business a lot more secure:

1. Patching

One of the most critical cybersecurity practices is also the simplest: updating your applications and operating systems. Software updates aren’t just about adding new features, but in most cases also includes security improvements and patches to any known vulnerabilities. And while it can be tempting to put off updating your applications for another day, it is very important to install these updates as soon as you can. Hackers are constantly looking through popular applications for potential vulnerabilities, so keeping your systems up to date will help ensure the bad guys can’t exploit any weaknesses in the outdated version.

2. Access Control

Another vital component to any cybersecurity policy is controlling access to your networks, systems and data. This includes limiting employee access to areas of your system that aren’t relevant to their work. You also need to ensure that your employees are using  passwords that meet certain length and complexity requirements, as well as using multi-factor authentication for all remote logins. This is especially important now that many employees are working from home.

3. Lockdown Mobile and Remote Devices

Whether employees are using company-issued or personal devices, it is important to ensure certain security settings are in place if those devices are used to access your network remotely. This includes ensuring that all devices are using a virtual private network (VPN)  to keep internet data anonymous, and malware scanners to detect infected devices. Another big risk with mobile and remote devices is that potential for them to be lost or stolen. It’s therefore important to make sure your devices are encrypted and that you have a system in place that allows you to delete the data from any remote device if it goes missing. This will keep the anyone who finds the device from access any sensitive data it might contain.

4. Back up and Recovery Tests

It is also critical to keep regular backups are your most important networks and most sensitive data. This is especially important to protect yourself against ransomware attacks, where hackers lock you out of your own system. Having a backup may prevent you from having to pay to get your data back. However, it’s not enough to just keep backups, but to regularly test your recovery process. Backups will sometimes be corrupted and If you make a mistake or your backup settings are misconfigured, it’s possible you won’t be able to fully recover your data. Testing your backups regularly will ensure you can get your data back if sometime bad happens.

5. Firewall Configuration

Firewalls are essential for monitoring incoming and outgoing network traffic, and blocking any traffic that doesn’t meet your security standards. It’s often considered your first line of defense, so should be set up with care. The specific configurations you need depends on a number of factors, but overall you should make sure you don’t have any unnecessary open ports and ensure that traffic coming and going from the most critical and sensitive areas of your network have stricter traffic limitations. It’s also very important to change any default account and passwords that come with the firewall. Hackers can cause a lot of damage if they gain administrative access to your firewall, so you want to keep access to it as secure as possible.

6. Security Awareness Training

Last but definitely not least, it is critical that your employees receive security awareness training. Phishing and other social engineering attacks are now the number one cause of data breaches, meaning your employees are your frontline defense against cyber attacks. If your employees don’t know how to spot phish or business email compromise attempts, you leave your system dangerously vulnerable to attack. Simply put, by giving your employees the tools to develop safe online habits, you dramatically increase the security of your organizations.

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