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Business + IT Insights

Choose the best tools and tactics for proactive IT security

Posted by Dave Lazor on Tue, Jun 13, 2017

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Cybercrime is steadily increasing and getting harder to prevent. Smaller companies are often left scrambling in the face of ransomware, phishing, social engineering and other digital attacks. 

Proactively combatting and preventing these clever, sophisticated schemes takes the right resources, but strapped for time and money, smaller businesses often default to a reactive approach. This can be costly.

In the wake of several large-scale cyber security threats like the WannaCry ransomware attack and the Google Docs phishing scheme, it’s extremely important have a recovery plan to minimize the impact to sales, customer service and operations, but it's even better to build the right systems to decrease the odds of an attack.

Getting Started

Assess your systems and identify areas for improvement to begin your strategic approach to implementing IT security policies and technology. Make sure your IT security choices are compatible with your existing processes and systems.

Your IT team or partner should thoroughly test and pilot any changes to your environment (new or upgraded hardware or software) with your critical applications to make sure the two are compatible, and to ensure that your team can continue to work effectively.

Protecting Your Business

We recommend a multi-layer defense strategy to allow for safe yet productive systems, with a few baseline systems that every business should have in place. They're broken down into two categories: preventative systems and reactive systems. When we talk about systems, we mean people, process and technology.

Preventative Systems

Antivirus software is essential for any business to protect against ransomware and other risks. Ensure your security software is up to date to protect against new threats.

Use a regular patching and upgrade schedule to ensure all business applications, operating systems and security software are up-to-date to minimize vulnerabilities.

A good firewall shields your network from the internet. Set up rules to keep out unwanted visitors and allow your team to browse and communicate securely.

An email filtering system protects against cybercriminals’ favorite phishing line. Done correctly, they examine incoming messages and block those that do not meet security criteria to protect sensitive information and prevent malware attacks.

Untrained employees can be the weakest link in the IT security chain. All technology safeguards must be supported by a human firewall—make sure anyone on your systems is educated on cyber-threats, able to recognize phishing and won’t be easy prey to tricks from the social engineering playbook.

Reactive Systems

Centralized monitoring and alerting tools within your systems should make you aware of any "bad behavior" within a program or file. Alerts sent to your IT team make it easy to identify and resolve issues quickly.

Cyber-attacks happen. It's a matter of when, not if. Make sure you know how to minimize business impact by quickly containing the threat, assessing the damage and restoring business operations when part of your network is compromised or a team member has fallen victim to a phishing scheme.

Ransomware is constantly evolving; even the best security software can be breached. Therefore, regular backups and a business continuity system minimizes losses and allows you to recover more quickly after a ransomware virus takes hold. Some modern backup solutions have an “instant recovery” capability, which is useful for recovering from a ransomware attack because it allows you to continue operations while your primary systems are being restored, with little to no downtime.

Some advanced security tool add-ons to your firewall or backup solution can monitor systems to detect malicious activities such as file extension or registry changes. If ransomware is detected, the software can block it and alert users.

Threat Growing and Ongoing

AT&T reported that 62% of businesses acknowledged they experienced some sort of a cyberattack. Virtually all companies will fall victim to these attacks at some point. Whether you've been hit with ransomware or not, protecting your network is an integral part of any network security framework for both individuals and companies.

A robust, multi-layered cybersecurity strategy can save a business. Technology is critical, but you also need to look at people and processes, because social engineering bypasses all technologies, including firewalls. Paired with security technology and a reliable backup and recovery system, employee education will boost your front line of defense and dramatically decrease the likelihood of any breaches, or recover unscathed should things turn ugly.

Keep Learning

We have a lot more to share about security readiness. Subscribe to this blog at the top of this post to keep up with this vital topic.

To learn more about ransomware, read our eBook, which explains ransomware, how to overcome an attack and how to avoid a data hostage situation altogether.

Avoiding Ransomware: a new eBook on how to recognize, prevent, and overcome a data hostage situation

Tags: ransomware, IT Security

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