Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are facing an increasing number of cyber threats. According to a recent National Cyber Security Alliance study, 60% of SMBs have experienced a data breach in the past year. The 2021 edition of IBM and Ponemon’s report found that the average cost of a data breach for small businesses (fewer than 500 employees) was $2.98 million. Protecting sensitive data and maintaining the security of IT infrastructure is vital for the success and reputation of any organization.
This blog will provide you with 10 essential IT security practices that every SMB should implement to safeguard their systems, networks, and data.
1. Regular Employee Security Awareness Training
Educating your employees about common cyber threats, such as phishing attacks, social engineering, and password hygiene, is crucial. Conduct regular training sessions to ensure they understand the importance of maintaining security protocols and are aware of current cyber threats. Henry Ford once said, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” This is certainly true of Cyber Security.
2. Strong Password Policies
Implement a password policy that enforces the use of long, unique passwords for all user accounts. Encourage employees to use password managers and enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever possible to provide an extra layer of security. A long password is more important than a complex password.
3. Regular Software Updates and Patch Management
Outdated software and unpatched systems are prime targets for cybercriminals. Establish a patch management process to ensure that all software, operating systems, and applications are regularly updated with the latest security patches and bug fixes. At Solzorro we apply patching on core applications (Chrome, Firefox Adobe Reader, etc.) every day and we do Windows and Mac patching twice per week. This is one of the values that a good RMM tool can provide.
4. Robust Firewall and Network Security
Deploy a reliable firewall to monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic. Implement intrusion detection and prevention systems (IDPS) to identify and block suspicious activities. Segment your network to restrict access to sensitive information and limit the potential damage in case of a breach. There are a lot of great brands of firewalls. Continuing to patch your firewall regularly is a critical part of keeping your network secure.
5. Secure Remote Access
With the rise of remote work, it is crucial to secure remote access to your company’s network. Utilize virtual private networks (VPNs) to encrypt data transmission between remote employees and your network, ensuring secure and private communication. Moving things to SharePoint or other cloud-based platforms is usually even better than having a VPN.
6. Regular Data Backups
Implement a robust data backup strategy that includes regular backups of critical systems and data. Store backups in secure, offsite locations or leverage cloud-based backup solutions. Regularly test the restoration process to ensure data can be recovered successfully in the event of a breach or system failure.
7. Endpoint Security
Protect your endpoints (e.g., laptops, desktops, mobile devices) with comprehensive security measures. Install and regularly update antivirus and anti-malware software, enable firewalls on each device, and deploy endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions to monitor and mitigate security threats.
8. Access Control and User Privileges
Implement a least privilege approach, granting employees only the necessary access rights required to perform their roles. Regularly review user permissions and revoke access immediately when an employee leaves the company or changes roles. People don’t love having the minimum rights necessary but do you know what is more annoying? Having your data compromised.
9. Email Security
Email is a common entry point for cyber-attacks. Deploy email filtering solutions to detect and block spam, phishing attempts, and malicious attachments. Train employees to identify and report suspicious emails and avoid clicking on unknown links.
10. Incident Response Plan
Prepare an incident response plan outlining the steps to be taken in the event of a security breach. Assign specific roles and responsibilities to team members and establish a communication protocol to minimize downtime and mitigate the impact of the breach. Regularly test and update the plan to address emerging threats.
By following these 10 essential IT security practices, you can significantly enhance the security posture of your small to medium-sized business. By investing in security awareness training, robust infrastructure, and proactive measures, you can safeguard your organization from potential cyber threats and protect your valuable data and assets.
Remember, effective IT security is an ongoing process, so regularly assess, update, and improve your security practices to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.
Solzorro can help you with our IT security consulting services. Give us a call for a free quote. You could also look at our pricing for IT services.