Top 10 Cybersecurity and Network Security Tips

Security Tip #1 - Audits Enhance Value
Network security assessments and audits help determine if IT funds are effectively being used, identify and quantify IT related strengths and weaknesses, and help you focus on those areas that create the most value for your firm. Assessments are ideal for:
  • Ensuring compliance (HIPAA, Sarbanes Oxley, PCI, etc.)
  • Emerging and fast growing firms
  • IPO ready organizations
  • Organizations concerned about security
  • Businesses with geographically distributed offices
  • Organizations in the financial and health care industries
  • Firms working with the government or large institutions
  • Organizations that share and collect personal and/or proprietary data

While some organizations want tactical advice on the state of the IT department, others want to maximize their investment in IT by developing and implementing a formal strategy. Before an organization can develop and execute strategy, the business can use assessments to understand its IT infrastructure and related strengths and weaknesses.

Security Tip #2 - Protecting Your Data
Encryption can protect your data. Most organizations have sensitive information that needs to be stored on IT systems and distributed to authorized business contacts in a safe and secure manner. It is important to use secure encryption technology when conducting business and electronically exchanging information. Encryption makes information unintelligible to everyone except for your intended recipient.

Confidential information is created on a daily basis. Restricting access to confidential information on your network is only part of the solution. Increase the integrity of the data by encrypting sensitive information. Your business contacts need to use encryption to help maintain the confidentiality of your data since not all of your confidential information is contained within your office. Employees frequently work out of the office and this information must be transported in a safe and secure manner.

Your reputation is at risk when confidential information is compromised and increased costs are incurred when information is exposed to unauthorized personnel. Donít wait for someone to gain access to your confidential information. Encrypt information to protect you from threats both inside and outside of your organization. Network security audits help ensure your data is properly secured on your servers and backup media.

Security Tip #3 - Firewalls, What they Can't Do For You
Firewalls can't do everything. Firewalls are a good first step to protect you against hackers, but they do have their limitations. Like a deadbolt lock on a front door, a firewall can't tell you if you have other vulnerabilities that might allow a hacker access to your network.

Why you need formalized security protection:

  • Firewalls canít protect against attacks that donít go through the firewall Ė wireless networks, dial-up modems, and internal employees often by-pass firewall protection
  • Firewalls reflect the overall level of security of your network Ė a failure may expose your sensitive data
  • Firewalls stop incoming threats but you still require formalized management, destruction, and archival procedures for your electronic documents
  • Firewalls are not a replacement for a strong Security Policies and Procedures Manual

Your reputation is compromised when a firewall doesnít encrypt confidential documents and e-mail. Your costs increase when a firewall doesnít protect you against computer viruses. Formalized procedures and tools are needed to protect your confidential documents and electronic communications. Organizations need security vulnerability assessments to manage their risks.

Your security structure is only as strong as its weakest link. External network penetration tests evaluate your firewall security to ensure they are properly configured.

Security Tip #4 - Hackers, What You Need to Know
Hackers know things that you don't. That's their edge. It's the reason that they can break into networks, leaving a path of destruction in their wake. Concerned about security? Your concerns may be directly related to the value of the information you are trying to protect. For example, is your data difficult to recreate? What are the implications if someone outside the company gets access to your confidential documents? You canít always prevent hackers from breaking in, but you can make it more difficult for them to succeed.

Why you need formal security protection:

  • Hackers like the challenge of breaking into systems
  • Without proper protection, any part of your network is at risk
  • Hackers cause network downtime
  • Hackers seek out weaknesses in your systems

Don't assume that ad-hoc security can protect you from Internet threats. Penetration tests identify vulnerabilities that can allow hackers access to your internal systems.

Security Tip #5 - Employees are your hidden threat
Internal employee threats. You have probably taken steps to secure your systems from external ďhackerĒ threats. But what steps have you taken to protect your organization from your own employees? The Computer Security Institute estimates that between 60% and 80% of network misuse comes from within the enterprise.

Managing your employees and their access to data help you manage your risks. From the inside, employees bypass many of your controls designed to protect your data from unwanted intruders. Even if you maintain passwords on confidential documents, employees can run scripts that detect and remove passwords on files. How can you address this employee threat? Identify your vulnerabilities and integrate security solutions at the network level.

The top three reasons why you need employee network level security protection:

  • Your employees already have access to your network.
  • Employees donít have to pass through external security checkpoints.
  • Your confidential data needs more than password protection.

Network security audits help enhance and enforce security at the network level while managing your employees and their access to data.

Security Tip #6 - Viruses are a constant threat
Anti-virus threats are increasing. Experts believe that as many as one out of every ten e-mail messages contain a virus. Don't put your organization at risk, obtain and implement reliable anti-virus software. Consider the following:

  • Viruses destroy the integrity of your computer systems.
  • Manual anti-virus updates at inconsistent intervals doesnít provide protection from viruses that spread quickly with no advance warning.
  • Viruses cause significant damage.
  • Your critical files are distributed across your network. Server and workstation files at corporate and remote locations need to be protected.

Viruses cost you money and increase IT support time. In addition, employee frustration results in employee turnover and increased management recruiting time and expenses. Your loss of data integrity results in customer dissatisfaction. Viruses compromise your image and reputation.

Donít count on inconsistent anti-virus solutions to protect your valuable information assets. Automated anti-virus systems with server and desktop protection help you manage your risks. Learn more about viruses and the difference between a worm and a virus.

Security Tip #7 - Passwords, what you need to know
Passwords, are you ever really secure? If you have a newer computer, you already know the experience of increased productivity you get from having state-of-the-art equipment. What you donít know is that faster systems, when combined with high-speed Internet lines, let unwanted visitors ďcrackĒ your passwords at an alarming rate.

Many organizations forget that not all of their threats are external, internal threats must be considered as well. In addition, confidential data may be accessed from remote locations and a good password policy may be the only protection.

Without a formalized password protection policy, you risk loss of revenue due to system and network downtime. Many organizations have determined their cost of downtime, however recent surveys show that the cost to recreate data is generally greater than originally estimated. In addition to internal costs, organizations must consider the cost of customer dissatisfaction due to loss of data integrity.

Passwords are a critical component of your security readiness. Formalize your password policies and verify that they are enforced. Inconsistent password policies and procedures leave you at risk and cannot protect your valuable information assets. Managing your passwords will help you manage your risks and protect your image and reputation.

A network security audit can perform real life attack to evaluate the strength of your users' passwords.

Security Tip #8 - Security Audits
It is often difficult to decide where to properly allocate your security budget. Rather than simply throwing money at the problem, leading organizations use periodic security assessments to help pinpoint network security issues. 

As new vulnerabilities are discovered on a daily basis, a system that is secure one day may be completely wide open the next. Much like regular anti-virus updates, subscribing to recurring security audits helps an organization identify network security weaknesses before they can be exploited.

In addition to protecting your IT systems, periodic security assessments help protect your organization's reputation by helping identify vulnerabilities before they are exploited by unwanted intruders. Find out more about security assessments and how they can help protect your "information assets".

Security Tip #9 - Backups Are Your Initial Defense
Donít risk losing your valuable data. What are your annual costs of lost data when you consider lost employee productivity, lower levels of customer service, and reduced competitiveness? Protect your IT systems with reliable backups so you donít lose money.

Why you need reliable IT system backups:

  • Information can be lost at a momentís notice
    It is time consuming to recreate data
  • The cost of downtime is greater than your initial estimates
  • Hackers and viruses arenít your only threats, employees can accidentally delete critical files
  • Data is often distributed - server and workstation files at corporate and remote locations needs to be protected

Your risks :

  • Lost productivity results in higher employee costs
  • Increased IT support costs you money
  • Lower levels of customer service results in lost clients

Don't count on untested backup systems to protect your valuable information assets. Formalized backup systems with off-site rotation help you manage your risks and are your key to protecting your information assets. Network security audit services help identify risks in your network backups to ensure protection of your information.

Security Tip #10 - Don't Risk Client Trust
Donít risk losing your clientsí trust in you. Protect your IT systems with security policies and procedures. You'll protect your information assets and your valuable image and reputation.

By not having sound policies and procedures, many organizations face the following risks:

  • Loss of data integrity and client trust in you
  • Your clients incur lower levels of service due to untimely IT operations
  • You experience increased management accountability due to loss of adequate controls
  • You incur increased costs due to systems that are not always available

Security policies and procedures can help you maintain client confidentiality. By implementing effective policies and procedures, client trust is maintained even while security threats are increasing at an alarming rate.

Many critical business processes and client interactions are now automated to the point where the importance of security readiness has risen exponentially. Donít count on firewalls and passwords to protect your valuable information assets. Security policies help you manage your risks and are your key to maintaining client trust.

Network security audits help organizations identify, manage, and reduce their risks from hackers and internal threats.  Formal and documented policies ensure a top down approach to managing network security risks.

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