Whether you are new to IT security systems or a veteran, it’s important to keep your computers and networks up to date. If you do not regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your IT real estate, the vulnerability of your security systems can only increase.
THE FIRST STEP in developing a secure IT structure in your business is to evaluate its security strength by auditing your IT system assets. There are a number of critical steps that you need to take in order to audit your system.
1. Know your assets.
Your company first needs to determine all of the IT assets that it has. This will help you determine where the priorities are as you complete the audit and make security changes. Assets can include hardware, software, data and information. As well as the obvious computers, servers and applications, think also about mobile devices, log-in details, passwords and physical access arrangements.
2. Assess the risks.
It’s important to know what needs to be protected, but it’s not enough to only understand what is at risk. Knowing how your information and equipment is at risk gets you closer to a safer IT structure. Develop a list of all types of threats that risk endangering each item on your asset list, thinking as broadly as possible so nothing is overlooked.
3. Prioritise vulnerabilities.
Now that you have a list of assets and the risks that are prevalent for your business, order them from most to least important. Prioritise items on the list in terms of high and low vulnerability and high and low value to your business.
4. Implement access controls and protocols.
Network access control is critical for limiting access to your network. Controls keep out unauthorised individuals looking to access your company assets or wreak havoc on your systems. Your company’s network access controls should include these features: data encryption, digital signatures, verification of IP addresses, usernames, verifying cookies for webpages and more.
5. Implement defences.
Network access control combined with intrusion prevention systems, can protect your sensitive data and deny access by unwanted intruders like hackers. The most common type of prevention system is a ‘firewall’ which will help to keep out undesired content. Firewalls are critical to the defence against intrusions.
6. Implement identity and access management. Identity and access management is the control over a user’s access to company assets. Users will need to be authenticated through software or manually request access before they can be allowed to view or use specified company assets.
7. Create regular backups.
No security audit and IT infrastructure upgrade is complete without a backup. Faulty hardware can be just as detrimental to your business as a hacker is. Backup your data on a consistent and regular basis. There are a number of approaches to implementing effective backup systems so seek advice as to one that best suits your needs.
8. Increase email protection.
Spam and phishing emails are one of the most common types of threats against companies of any size. They look to target individuals who are not educated on phishing habits. Keep your employees informed about the best email practices for incoming and outgoing emails. To further reduce the risk of an attack via email, increase your network’s filtering to weed out common types of spam and phishing attempts.
9. Friend or foe.
Developing a strong defence against cyber-attacks is complex and can be challenging for companies. Once you have gone through the necessary steps of auditing and protecting your company’s systems and data, it doesn’t end there. In fact, known third parties such as suppliers, contract workers and even your own employees can still damage your business or steal valuable information even with the best defence systems in place.
10. Plan for the future. Once you’ve compiled a list of potential vulnerabilities that could threaten your IT assets, you need to also look ahead and consider what could harm your IT systems in the future. Be alert to the latest developments and threats by monitoring news and the latest information on websites and forums such as itsecurity.com.
Auditing your business’s network and IT infrastructure is critical for a company of any size. It doesn’t matter if you are a small business or a massive corporation. Hackers are everywhere, accidents can happen at any time and technology is always evolving. Always stay ahead of the game and regularly audit your IT systems and practices to ensure that they are secure. After all, it takes just one slip or one breach to potentially jeopardise the future of your business, the people you employ and the Customers you serve.