Everything you need to know about IT security

Long gone are the days of brick and mortar store fronts, where a company's entire business is located in just one shop. While plenty of enterprises still operate out of storefront locations, their records, whether they're employee information, financial data, inventory systems or others, are almost always located digitally. There are plenty of ways to store this information – data centers, the cloud or another centralised location that is easy and quick to access.

Working online has modernised the workforce in a way once never thought possible. However, as technology has evolved the business age, it has also brought forth a wave of cyber crime in its wake. Unfortunately, companies have had to safeguard their systems to ensure that hackers and criminals can't find their way into critical company data and mine any of the information. Smart cyber criminals can turn this information into a large payday with even the smallest intrusion.

As such, computer security services have become an invaluable industry, and all business leaders need to learn about IT security. In fact, all employees need a rudimentary knowledge of cyber security to make sure they're following best practices so as not to leave any breadcrumbs that could let in a rogue agent.

With this in mind, what does your team need to know about IT security to protect your company?

What does cyber security entail?
Business leaders who might be new to cyber security may think that this simply means installing antivirus software on computers and calling it a day – in reality, you need to do much more to keep your company safe. In fact, it's a much bigger system of protecting your operating system, email, network, printers, data centers and other technologies from threats. It also includes the human element, because employees and their training on security play an important role as well. 

Always update
While it can be annoying to have to reboot your computer in the middle of the work day and put a temporary stop to production, however, it's crucial that all devices in the office get updated regularly. Software platforms often issue patches to vulnerabilities as developers find them, so it's crucial that your systems are constantly up-to-date before hackers have the chance to exploit your systems before you've even realised it.

It's equally important to take the time to regularly back up your data. Should a breach or even just a crash occur and you have to back your files up, it's much easier to do so from files that were recently updated, rather than trying to figure out when you last did and what could be missing. 

Training employees
It's crucial that you educate your employees on best practices. They need to know common phishing tactics (i.e. that they should never open links or attachments sent in emails from senders they don't know, or answer emails with sensitive information), to always update their devices and systems, and to let their managers know if they notice anything suspicious.

After all, the majority of security breaches involve a human element.

Phishing seems like the oldest trick in the book, but the fact of the matter is that it's one of the most effective means of cyber attack. While links and attachments are easy ways to get in, they're widely known to be common tactics.

So, hackers have started using other means of attack, including pop-up windows with malicious links and embedded viruses. A good way to combat this is to set up email authentication technology – this software can scan the sender to test authenticity and scan any attachments for viruses. In the meantime, messages are in quarantine so there is no fear of infecting the network. 

Secure your Wi-Fi network
Your office Wi-Fi network should not be public. Simply put, you are paying for a service, and you cannot afford to open it up to whoever is in the vicinity, leaving all other connected devices vulnerable to attack. You need to protect it with a strong password and ensure it is only shared with those allowed access. This password should be changed regularly. The network will have an encrypted firewall protection, and only antivirus software-protected devices approved by the IT manager would be authorised.

You should also consider setting up a separate guest network for non-secured devices. That is to say, this is where employees can connect with personal devices, and where other individuals allowed on business property can access the internet, if given the guest password. While still password protected, this guest network would not be connected to the office devices that employees use to access sensitive data.

Establish a firewall
Setting up a firewall is critical for any office. This would prevent unauthorised users from accessing your network, and therefore your data, should an intruder make it past your antivirus software and your Wi-Fi password. 

Know what to look for
Phishing isn't the only type of attack you might encounter. Familiarise yourself with other types of cyber attacks so you know how to protect yourself, what you're up against and the first signs of infection. Understand the following (among many others):

  • Malware: Malicious software, these are programs that cause damage and gain network access. This includes viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware and ransomware.
  • Man-in-the-middle attacks: When companies exchange data, hackers hijack this during the information flow and attach malware to a file.
  • Inside attacks: Someone, potentially a disgruntled employee, misuses company privileges and launches an attack from the inside.
  • SQL injections: This attack stems from malicious code injected and hidden in your servers, allowing hackers backdoor access.

The fact of the matter is, while some business IT support and cyber security can be strategised and put in place in-house, some of the more thorough protections and safeguards are best left to the professionals. To make sure your company is best protected from hackers and criminals who would want to do you harm and steal your hard-earned data, you should consider consulting with the experts at BizTech. Our team knows how to unify business and technology and make it easy for you to get back to work, all while ensuring your company is backed by a strong IT security architecture.