A man employs multi-factor authentication for his cyber security needsA modern business has to protect itself from threats, both known and unknown. You can't risk having your business information stolen by outside threat actors. This type of cyber attack could cause real harm to your customers, clients, or your business itself. But you also can't predict every attack and virus that might damage your bottom line. For modern businesses, certain cyber security essentials will help form the foundation of a protected network.

Cyber attacks are on the rise, so taking these steps to protect your business network is critical. Knowing is half the battle, and this fight is for your livelihood. The work of security professionals continues to defend networks from disruption, as well as provide peace of mind to your daily lives. If you have cybersecurity needs in the Greensboro area, come to the security professionals who care about your business.


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1. Keep Your Employees Educated

One of the simplest and most common cyberattacks is the phishing scam. This scam involves sending out emails that are disguised as legitimate offers, warnings, or invitations designed to get recipients to give up business information. Regular cybersecurity training courses will help empower your employees to recognize these scams and prevent threat actors from gaining access to personal and private information.

There are thousands of educational courses that employees can take, but we can help simplify and speed up the learning process. Cyber essentials security certifications should be regularly earned by team members to show that they have taken in the information that will ensure they adhere to security best practices.

The most consistent and powerful protection from phishing scams is to educate and inform your employees so that they can better recognize these threats. Regular cyber essential training and security education will provide your business with an entire workforce that can protect and secure your data.

2. Employ Data Privacy, Not Just Data Security

Data security is a priority in cybersecurity essentials, but it often overshadows data privacy. The difference is the human element—data security focuses on firewalls, network security principles, and programmable protection. Data privacy focuses on how people interact with the data itself.

Data privacy asks, 'Who has access to information and when?' Sensitive data is most vulnerable when it changes hands or is in many places at once. Private information like customer records and financial information are high-value targets of cyber attacks. Knowing how to keep data private is a critical cybersecurity essential that actively protects your customers and clients.

Instilling good data privacy policies is something that we can help with. We have compliance coaches who specialize in ensuring data privacy and security up to and including HIPAA standards. This includes education on data hygiene such as locking computers and workstations when away, using password managers, and knowing how to discuss sensitive information without divulging it.

3. Implement Password Management Systems

Replacing a password every month can lead to poor password hygiene. Many employees will leave sticky notes or open notepads full of passwords at the workstation, which allows anyone who finds them to access anything that employees can access.

Password managers function as a more secure method of remembering and storing passwords, allowing employees to implement stronger passwords with fewer points of weakness. Password managers often implement multi-factor authentication to ensure only the employee who uses them can access the passwords.

Password managers are not difficult to implement, and we would recommend using them outside of your work life as well. However, learning how to properly integrate one into your business processes can take time. Our team of security professionals can help educate and prepare your team to switch to a password manager. This will ensure that your employees will have access without introducing weak points to your security.


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4. Double Down on Security with Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is based on valuable security principles. This security practice uses simple phone applications that will connect with the system or program that is secured. MFA requires either inputting a one-time password that updates every minute or requires approving the access by tapping a button on a smartphone. MFA apps serve your security principles by adding a sort of ‘second button press’ – instead of just using a password, employees use their physical phones as confirmation of their identity.

These security practices can be quite easy to implement and benefit from. MFA can be set up via several applications and serve to mitigate cyber risks by adding a real-life touch. Digital attacks are harder to employ when a real-life button has to be pressed. However, MFA requires employees to be confident and consistent about securing devices.

5. Lock Down and Test Your Network Security

two women consulting in a server roomNetwork security is one of the most bulletproof cyber security essentials. Locking down your network and preventing outsiders from getting in is one of the most powerful ways to protect your data. Today, most networks need to be connected to the internet at large, whether for widespread teams or enhanced cooperation between groups. However, your network can be protected through several security principles.

Encrypting a network prevents unauthorized actors from interacting with your data. This protection, alongside a strong password management system, is the foundation of most network security strategies. Additional steps to securing your network include MFA and separating your public and private networks.

Once you’re confident in your security protocols, you can begin to put them to the test. Penetration testing is a common security tactic in which security experts try to hack into your system in a controlled environment, employing the same strategies as actual hackers. These mimic real-world scenarios and put your organization's procedures and defense to the test. Cyber essentials penetration testing can help verify that your network has been properly secured against outside threats. This aggressive method of security assessment can find weak points that could be missed otherwise, allowing you to shore up weaknesses and be more confident in your network.

6. Protect Devices with Antivirus and Anti-malware

Devices connected to a network often interact with other networks outside and can represent points of contact for spreading viruses, malware, and other digital harm. Keeping your network hygienic is a cyber security essential.

Network managers should employ centralized tools to make sure that all security updates will be made to all connected devices. There are no bulletproof cyber essentials, but staying on top of the latest updates can go a long way toward protecting your data.


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7. Maintain Your Firewall

Firewalls are system protection protocols that ensure only verified and secured software will send information into or out of your network devices. Firewalls are not complicated to maintain and provide a powerful shield to your network. These technologies are based on the concept of access control, based on who is inside or outside of a verified list of programs and user accounts.

Firewalls are especially important for remote workers who have to interact with more networks to stay connected. Remote work can present unique risks and benefits to network security. These tools allow even distant workers to enjoy a safe and secure network. Firewalls can defend networks 24/7 but do require consistent maintenance and updates.

8. Stay Up-To-Date With Software Updates

Software upgrades are constantly happening. Outdated software is a major risk factor, as threat actors have had more time to identify vulnerabilities and exploits. Cyber attacks and security are in an arms race that requires those of us caught between to keep up.

The ability to stay up-to-date and aware of new changes is an essential skill for cyber security. A network manager can help you stay abreast of news in the security world that might push you to implement updates to software. If a network manager is outside of your capacity, IT support companies can provide all of the benefits of an in-house security team for a fraction of the cost.

Are You Confident About Your Grasp on the Cyber Security Essentials?

Network security principles are fairly simple to understand but can be exceedingly difficult to implement. They require a very high-level view of your network and how data flows through it. But they also push you to look closely at small details of how information is secured and protected. There are many reasons to hire a network security team, and the most important reason is that security requires a massive amount of time and energy to maintain.

There are no bulletproof cyber essentials when it comes to security. Hackers and criminals are constantly trying new attacks and developing new techniques to penetrate networks. This constant threat is why one of the most essential skills for cyber security is the ability to learn and implement new security measures quickly.

You don’t need to be a large business to invest in a security team. In-house security teams can be bulky, but the managed or co-managed support of an IT company can fill your needs without breaking the bank. Hire a team of professional and certified IT experts and you will free up time and energy for the work that matters to you. Contact us today, and we can start the conversation on how to safeguard and protect your business.


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Articled reviewed and endorsed by Branson Buchanan.