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Businesses today face a wide range of challenges, and cybercrime is quickly moving its way to the front of the line. Newsworthy hacks and data breaches occur with ever-increasing frequency, placing customer data and the organization’s reputation at risk.

There are many simple steps businesses can take to strengthen their defenses. Here are some cybersecurity tips and best practices your business can (and should) put in place to protect your systems and your goodwill with customers and clients.

Building a culture of cybersecurity awareness

Unfortunately, your employees are one of your most significant security risks; it’s important to instill an understanding of what constitutes a strong cybersecurity posture. Having a solid set of cybersecurity policies gives you a template for training efforts. Cultivating a cybersecurity-conscious workforce is the first step toward keeping your organization and clients secure and happy. It starts with employee awareness and educational resources of the following:

1. Strengthening your first line of defense: Password security

Compromised user credentials are a simple way for attackers to access company networks. Even though users are notoriously resistant to strong password policies, you must require your employees to use passwords that are difficult to guess and to change them frequently.

2. Adding a layer of protection: Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Requiring second-level user authentication further minimizes the chances that hackers will gain access to your network through compromised credentials.

3. Educating against deception: Recognizing phishing attempts

Phishing emails are responsible for approximately 80% of security incidents because employees don’t always question the source of email they receive. Employees also too frequently click links before deciding whether or not they are safe, allowing hackers to inject malware like ransomware or crypto jacking attacks into corporate networks.

Helping your employees be more vigilant about phishing indicators, questionable links and fake websites will move you far along the track towards a more secure business environment. With proper training, you can turn every employee into an unofficial cybersecurity team member.

Securing remote work environments

Most businesses now have at least a few remote employees, and many businesses used the pandemic to shift more fully towards remote work. But hackers know this and are doing everything possible to take advantage of the substantial spread of new connections to business data and resources.

Give your remote employees all the tools they need to protect their connections to corporate networks!

4. Guarding the gateway: VPN software for remote workers

VPNs create private connections where data flows are encrypted, hardening the connection against attack. Any employees accessing company networks from outside the office, whether remote workers or those traveling, should always use VPNs rather than public networks.

5. Safeguarding digital exchanges: Secure file-sharing services

It is a simple fact of today’s business world that you will sometimes need to share files with employees or clients who are not present. But just as you secure your personal assets with tools like digital wallets, you must secure your company’s files using the right tools. If you are not already using secured extranets, intranets and cloud storage services, then you need to make sure all file transfers take place through secure file-sharing services.

6. Shield against digital threats: Antivirus and Anti-malware tools

All employees should have antivirus and anti-malware tools available on their machines. But you must ensure remote employees are using these tools, especially if you allow them to connect through personal devices rather than company-provided machines.

7. Remote device management: Protecting company assets

There will be times when employees will lose devices, whether through carelessness or theft. You must be able to quickly disable or even wipe these devices remotely as soon as you learn of the loss.

Strengthening corporate networks and cloud security

It is not enough to focus on employees; businesses must also do what they can to strengthen network and cloud service security. Just as with employee security, it’s crucial for businesses to understand that the benefits of certain best practices far outweigh any minor inconveniences.

8. Timely defenses: Software and firmware patch management

Outdated software and firmware are known security threats. Yet, many businesses fail to promptly install patches to avoid inconvenience to employees or added strain on already overburdened IT staff. Frequent, timely patching will help you avoid many known threats.

9. Harnessing AI and machine learning for threat detection

The amount of traffic going through company networks daily can strain even the most robust security tools. AI and ML, however, thrive on deriving patterns from massive data sets, making them highly effective tools for threat identification, especially when the threat is an as-yet-unidentified attack.

10. Shared responsibility in the cloud: Understanding security provisions

Many companies assume that cloud service providers are fully responsible for the security of their services and the company data in them, but this is rarely the case. Companies generally retain some degree of security responsibility, and it is crucial that they understand what they must do and what the provider will do.

11. The detectives of the digital realm: Deploying vulnerability scanners

It’s difficult to fix weaknesses if you don’t know what they are. Vulnerability scanners automatically search your systems to identify potential problems or active threats. They also can help you to prioritize remediation efforts.

12. Testing your defenses: Penetration tests and simulated attacks

While tools like vulnerability scanners are helpful, it is useful to supplement them with additional testing and attempted attacks. You can use anything from internal specialists in red team-blue team exercises to white hat/ethical hackers and external penetration testing services.

13. Beyond recovery: The role of frequent backups

Far more than just disaster recovery tools, backups are also effective in minimizing the effects of malware, ransomware in particular. They can help your business get back up on its feet quickly in the event of an attack.

14. Locking down access: Role-based controls and Zero Trust policies

The fewer people that can access data, the fewer attack vectors for hackers. Using role-based access controls, siloed data storage and zero trust policies will help reduce your overall attack surface.

Need help fortifying your cybersecurity posture?

Using these cybersecurity tips on building a secure culture from the top down, means soon everyone in the company will be contributing to safeguard corporate resources rather than being an avenue of attack. Of course that isn’t completely enough.

The pressure of mounting threat potential and a plethora of offerings can feel overwhelming, but your business can rapidly improve its cybersecurity posture quickly and effectively. Once employees are engaged the next step is to work with security experts to further fortify your organization.

Expert Guidance: Partnering with a Cloud Security Specialist

An expert cloud partner can also help fortify your defenses and accelerate your cybersecurity journey. Explore Sherweb’s partner guide to learn more about how we can help.

Written by The Sherweb Team Collaborators @ Sherweb