6 Essential IT Security Improvement Themes
Even before the pandemic, a significant portion of the workforce transitioned to working remotely from home. Obviously, there’s been a massive increase in that trend.. Once the 18th wave of the pandemic finally fades and restrictions end, remote work will continue in most of verticals, now that employees have come to enjoy the new level of flexibility and even productivity. What does this mean for business owners and office managers? Though there are certainly financial benefits in moving to a remote workforce, having your staff primarily work from home does come with some additional security risks.
The massive recent shift to a heavier remote workforce has left many businesses hastening to establish new security procedures and tools that combat this new wave of cybersecurity risks. If your company plans on maintaining a remote workforce, here are some concepts to consider to help protect your company and employees.
Move Beyond Antivirus Software
When trying to keep your company safe from a cyberattack of any kind, one of the most important preventative measures you can take is to invest in a high-quality antivirus and internet security program for you and your employees, which we handle for you at Carmichael. Of course, hackers know that and take it as a given. So, where can you go after basic AV is covered? Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) software takes all of the benefits of the traditional AV (virus signature database) and adds the ability to look at the behavior of malicious software. For more detail on the finer points of the technologies, check this out.
Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
VPNs have a number of interesting benefits, and a few downsides. The main downside of a VPN is the initial configuration & setup (though we do that for you if you like). The benefits include data privacy (encryption), access to region-blocked services, and international censorship avoidance. The downside includes bandwidth loss, cost and additional manual intervention from the user. Using a VPN really depends on your technology landscape, but we recommend it in most situations for at least a portion of the user population, depending on the criticality of the role.
Selective Multi-Factor Authentication
While having strong passwords is key in maintaining your organization’s security, it’s just not enough anymore. Accessing your applications, or the company VPN, with only a username and password is no longer enough to prevent cyberattacks. Instead, you will want to require certain employees to use two-factor (or multi-factor) authentication (MFA) for key company systems and definitely email.
MFA adds additional protection by requiring users to provide another form of authentication (typically cell phone or mobile app) when logging into accounts in addition to their password. While businesses are often hesitant to implement multi-factor authentication, due to the additional effort required from users, this additional layer of security is incredibly effective in preventing breaches. We recommend that you use it whenever feasible, particularly for financial systems and VIP email accounts.
Let’s face it, software and operating system updates can be a pain as they take time out of your day, and we have all been guilty of putting these updates off for as long as possible. However, these updates often provide security patches that prevent hackers from exploiting software vulnerabilities to hack into a user’s device.
Make sure all system and software updates as soon as they become available to ensure that your devices are properly protected. You should also ensure that your employees are aware of the important role these updates play in cybersecurity and that there is a procedure in place for ensuring all updates are performed regularly and in a timely manner. You will likely have the option to enable automatic updates on company devices, which will ensure that updates are performed as soon as possible when they become available, helping to protect your company from a potential security breach.
Back, Back, Back It Up…
It is also critical that you have a plan in place to ensure that you are performing regular backups of critical company data. Should your company fall prey to a cyberattack, having robust backups in place can help ensure that all hope isn’t lost, as recent backups can help your company to get back up on its feet as quickly as possible. Ideally, you will want to have backups of all of your company’s critical data stored in the cloud as well as onsite. Make sure that you have a system in place to ensure these backups are performed on a set schedule. At the bare minimum, you will want to back up your company’s data at least once a week, however, more critical data should be backed up more frequently to help ensure as little as possible is lost should you fall prey to a cyberattack.
If you rely primarily on a remote workforce, cybersecurity training becomes particularly important, as no one will be around to oversee your staff and remind them of steps they should be taking to keep mission-critical data secure.
Do your employees know what a phishing text or email looks like? Do they know not to click on links or download files in emails from unknown senders or on unsecured websites? Going over basic cybersecurity best practices is an effective way to prevent a data breach. If you don’t have the resources to provide this training to your entire staff, keep in mind Carmichael’s Vault offering which includes packaged content.
An IT managed service provider (MSP) We regularly implement risk management programs which include implementation of enhanced cloud security, endpoint security, and advanced email security to enhance the confidentiality and integrity of your most sensitive data.. Feel free to contact us to learn more about the steps that you should be taking to protect your company from a data breach as well as to learn about the benefits of outsourcing your company’s IT needs to an MSP.