10 IT Security Essentials for your business

When people think IT security, they usually think of it in a negative light. Complexity, expensive, time-consuming – which is simply not true. Practicing good security for your company does not have to be any of these things, and can be accomplished with a well-thought out strategy and implementation that gets you the most bang for your buck. Without further ado, here is a list of the ten things every business should be doing to protect their assets:

  1. Install security patches on an automated, scheduled basis
    • Patching is an easy and simple way to ensure you are protected from the latest threats on your systems. This needs to be done for all PC’s, mobile devices, and network equipment, and servers for your business. This includes operating systems such as Windows or iOS, applications and firmware. Schedule these to occur and protect yourself from the latest threats.
  2. Restrict “Administrator” access to only those that need it
    • Limit the ability of anyone to have access to “everything” – which will prevent destructive ransomware attacks on your data. Consider locking down individual workstations so that software can only be installed and maintained by trusted administrators. Privileged Identity Management is critical for maintaining a secure environment.
  3. Enforce strong passwords and rotation policy
    • Passwords are the keys to your kingdom – you need to make sure they are strong and rotated on a consistent basis. Make sure to rotate these passwords on a consistent basis and don’t forget to change service accounts and network device passwords periodically as well.  If you are using “Guest” wifi access to your network, these passwords need to be rotated as part of this policy.
  4. Segment your network 
    • As any security professional will tell you, no network is 100% secure – so it is important to limit the damage of any intrusion or attack by segmenting your network to limit the ability of an attacker to move laterally inside of your business. At a minimum have a firewall at your perimeter, a DMZ for your internal/external traffic, and proper VLAN’s in place to limit attack vectors. Using NAC (Network Access Control) to segment your network using policy-enforced VLAN’s is a cost-effective means to limit access to your network for insecure endpoints.
  5. Enable multi-factor authentication for your network 
    • End-users are the weakest link to your organization. If a password is stolen or compromised, you need to be able to ensure that there are other requirements to gain access to your systems. Two factor authentication helps prevent the abuse of poor passwords that are reused from other breaches because you now need a second form of authentication to gain access to the network. Two Factor Authentication is the most common method requiring something you know and something you have (ie. a password and a key). Two factor authentication helps prevent the abuse of poor passwords that are reused from other breaches because you now need a second form of authentication to gain access to the network.
  6. Install and maintain endpoint malware/virus detection 
    • Any endpoint that connects to your network (PC, laptop, mobile device, servers) needs to be protected from malware and virus attacks. If the device does not meet endpoint protection requirements , then it should not be allowed on the network (Network Access Control).
  7. Know your environment and what exists on your network
    • The creation of automated network maps that show what exists on your network and where devices are located are critical to understanding the security posture of your environment. You cannot protect what you do not know about.
  8. Inspect your network traffic for any anomalies 
    • You should have a clear understanding of what a baseline of your network traffic looks like and then be able to determine if something is happening that is out of the ordinary. Log analysis and event correlation is critical to determine if a security incident is actively being utilized on your network.
  9. Conduct regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing
    • In order to ensure the policies and tools you have implemented are working properly, it is important to run a vulnerability assessment of your environment on a scheduled basis. This will let you know of any gaps that exist in your security posture. It is also important to have a regular penetration test to determine if an ethical team of hackers could break into your company which can improve your defenses.
  10. Conduct periodic security training with your employees
    • Educate your employees on the do’s and don’t’s of safe security practices – such as how to identify phishing attempts and malicious links, social engineering detection and how to properly access resources on your network.