When it comes to cybersecurity, your business cannot afford to be indifferent. Your business relies almost totally on technology for business continuity. However, every minute you are connected to the internet, you are at risk from a cyber-attack. A single breach can be a costly, time-consuming, potentially business-destroying event, so you need to ensure you are doing all you can to keep your business data secure. Here are some practical strategies to enhance your business IT security.
Outsource Your IT
Your IT infrastructure is too expansive and important for one or two IT staff to manage. If you don’t already outsource your technology delivery, now is a good time to think about making the switch. Ultimately, you want to choose the most effective way to support your systems and your people to ensure your business can continue running as usual. Outsourcing your IT to an expert support company will also help to ensure that your cybersecurity is watertight and secure. Some benefits of outsourcing your IT include:
- Security – An outsourced IT company, with their wealth of experience, will be lower risk because they know what they’re doing and they’ve dealt with businesses like yours before. They will be able to better understand where the threat comes from and will be more well-equipped to deal with it. They will also be able to more effectively maintain your antivirus software, run necessary updates and generally protect your business from IT security threats.
- Compliance – An outsourced IT company will be well versed in compliancy and will ensure that you meet all regulations, meaning that you can have peace of mind.
- Disaster Recovery – When something does go wrong, you want to ensure that the problem is resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible. Most businesses are ill-equipped to deal with large-scale disasters. A specialist IT company will have the resources and experience needed to help you recover from any potential disaster quickly, helping to protect your brand reputation and your revenue.
- Cost – you will have a consistent expense which you will be able to budget for. Furthermore, you will be able to plan for flexible IT support as your business changes.
- Expertise and Skill – Outsourcing your IT allows you to take advantage of the greater knowledge base that comes with a larger team. An experienced IT company will have dealt with a wide range of issues just like yours. Consequently, they will be able to pinpoint issues faster and solve them quicker.
- Better Technology – A specialist IT company has access to expensive, cutting-edge technology which they will then employ in your business. Moreover, they will spend the money on constant training and education in order to keep up with the current cybersecurity trends and what is available on the market.
Conduct Staff Awareness Training
One of the most important aspects of keeping your business safe is empowering your employees to use technology safely. Considering over 90% of breaches are a result of human error, training your workforce in cybersecurity is vital for business continuity. You should have a security awareness training programme in place to keep employees educated and informed. It will help create best practices and change behaviour towards cybersecurity. Some important facts to consider include:
- Persistence – training should be delivered frequently with refreshers in between. Cybersecurity should always be kept top of mind.
- Relevance – your training should be aligned to the most relevant security threats, so employees know how to recognise them and what to do.
- Engagement – keep training engaging and interactive to make training more manageable.
- Emphasise Importance – use real-life examples to showcase why cybersecurity is so important and what consequences can come of not treating it with due respect.
Additionally, it is crucial to train them in company security policy; for example, creating strong, complex passwords and changing them every 30 days and reminding them of procedures for encrypting personal data. Limiting administrator privileges in another way of keeping your network secure; not everyone needs access to everything. Employees should also be trained in recognising potential malicious links and phishing attacks.
Keep Hardware and Software Updated
Taking the time to update your software means that you always have access to the newest, strongest security features available. Unpatched software poses a huge risk: hackers can exploit known security vulnerabilities in software which can leave networks exposed. Patching your software is essential to ensure you always have access to the most up-to-date security and best technology. You should have a patching schedule to check for any updates. This is true of any software you have a licence for, but it is especially important for anti-virus software. Having anti-virus software is all good and well, but you will not have the full level of protection if you do not keep it updated. Furthermore, this is why it is always important to keep your operating systems up to date. If your business is still running Windows 7, click here to learn more about why not upgrading to Windows 10 is a risky move.
Similarly, securing your hardware is one of the first steps in cybersecurity, one which is often overlooked. This can include:
- Requiring strong, complex passwords to enter any computer system.
- Using the cloud, which enables you to remotely wipe a laptop in case of theft.
- Hardware monitoring to protect your server rooms and data centres from overheating or water ingress.
- Using a strong firewall, which is a network security device which monitors your network traffic and protects it from viruses and malicious code.
All devices that leave the business premises, such as phones and laptops, should have security features such as a local firewall, malware protection, disk encryption and multi-factor authentication.
Identify and Classify Your Data
As a business, you must be aware of the data you have so that you can determine how it needs to be protected. Not all of your data will be sensitive or confidential, but it is vital that you protect the small percentage that is. For example, any personal details such as names, addresses, phone numbers or credit card information must be kept secure. You must also be aware of any data regulations that you must comply with, such as GDPR and PCI. A single breach or data leak would not only be incredibly embarrassing for your business, but it could also incur huge fines as a result of regulation violation.
Once you have identified the sensitive data you have, you can allocate resources to storing and protecting it. You should then decide where it should be stored and how it should be protected. Data should be classified as confidential and as such, only those with permission should be authorised to access it.
Have a Disaster Recovery Plan
Unfortunately, no matter how diligent you are in cybersecurity, incidents can happen and when they do, you need to have a response plan. Disaster Recovery (DR) is about having a technical solution and recovery plan in case of disaster, whether natural or induced by humans. A DR plan aims to maintain critical functions to ensure business continuity and minimise downtime while the disaster is being addressed. You need to be able to efficiently deal with a breach while getting your business up and running as quickly as possible.
First and foremost, you need to ensure that you have a backup strategy. This will allow you to restore lost data up to the last backup, which should have been within the past 24 hours or less. The 3-2-1 backup rule is the best foundation for your business’ data backup. It works for any virtual environment, regardless of your business’ IT infrastructure. It is a common approach to keeping your data safe in almost any scenario. It involves keeping at least 3 copies of your data, stored on 2 different devices, with 1 being kept offsite.
Your DR plan should also include a clear line of communication of who to contact in case of an incident. Your IT support partners, employees, customers and other stakeholders should all be informed so that there is as little confusion and disruption as possible.
Cardonet can provide you with a comprehensive range of cyber security services to help you stay secure and, at the same time, help you demonstrate compliance with industry and regulatory standards. To find out more about our Cyber Security Services, please click here.
If you are concerned about how cyber-attacks could affect your business in the upcoming year, call us on +44 203 034 2244 or +1 323 984 8908. Alternately, you can contact us online. We will be happy to help you overcome your hotel IT challenges so that you can improve your guest experience and set your hotel apart. Cardonet have been working with businesses for the past twenty years to help them overcome their technological challenges. We have engineering bases in the United Kingdom, Europe and Southern California and our group of highly experienced engineers are available 24/7 to assist and ensure that your IT infrastructure is secure and running seamlessly.