We all know that basic hygiene is necessary to lead a healthy life. Did you know that the same rule applies to IT as well? There’s something known as "cyber hygiene" that plays a key role in keeping your business healthy from an IT perspective. So how do you ensure your business doesn’t fail when it comes to cyber hygiene? Here are a few tips.
Follow industry benchmarks and standards
Remember that if an IT practice has gained industry-wide recognition and adoption, it is because it offers benefits that are worth the cost. Protocols like the HTTPS implementation, SSL security certificates, CIS Benchmark, etc., are examples of industry standards that you must follow to maintain good cyber hygiene. Following these standards enhance your cybersecurity quotient and also play a positive role in helping you win your customers' trust.
Stronger IT administration
The role of an IT administrator is extremely critical in any organization. IT administration involves exercising control over most of the IT activities with a high-level view to ensure the security of your IT environment is never compromised. Make sure your IT admin rules and policies are clearly formulated and covers everything including:
- Clear definition of user roles
- Permission levels for each user role
- Restrictions regarding the download and installation of new software
- Rules regarding external storage devices
Conduct regular IT audits to spot vulnerabilities and gaps that may threaten the security of your IT infrastructure. During the IT audits pay special attention to:
- Outdated software or hardware that is still in use
- Pending software updates that make an otherwise secure system vulnerable
Fix what you can and remove / replace whatever is too outdated to function safely.
Password policy adherence
When it comes to cyber hygiene, passwords are the weakest link as people often compromise on the password policy for the sake of convenience. Here are a few things to look into at the time of your IT audit to ensure compliance with your password policy:
- Check if passwords are strong enough and follow the standards set for secure passwords
- Discourage password repetition or sharing
- Ensure multi-factor authentication (MFA) is implemented in addition to passwords, so there is at least one more credential such as biometric verification or a one-time password (OTP) sent to the user’s mobile phone. MFA can also be implemented through a physical token or QR code to verify a user's identity and approve data access.
Ensure basic security mechanisms are in place
As a part of your cyber hygiene check, ensure you have basic security mechanisms in place. These include:
- Anti-malware software programs
- Data encryption tools
- Physical security and access control tools like locks and biometric access
Pay attention to what happens with obsolete data
How do you get rid of data you no longer need? Even though old data may no longer be of any use to you from a business perspective, a breach of that data can still hurt you legally. Ensure you get rid of old data safely. It is good practice to deploy data wiping software and also create policies for the safe destruction of physical copies via shredding or other methods.
Strong cyber hygiene practices can keep your data safe from cybercriminals. However, consistently updating and verfiying your best practices are being followed can be taxing on your internal IT team. Free up your staff for business purposes by consulting with an MSP (like Logical Operators) who is well-versed in cybersecurity to assist your business with cyber hygiene.