5 Steps to Improving Your Company’s Cyber-Security Program
Are you aware of who is responsible for cyber-security in your company? Cyber-security can be a confusing topic in an organisation so we have made a guide of basic tips that can help you develop a stronger cyber-security program to avoid, or recover from, any cyber related issues in your company.
1. Take a full and accurate inventory of IT assets:
Security, by definition, is the concernment with protecting assets, and in cyber-security this asset is data and information. But how can a company begin to protect those assets if they don't know exactly what and where those assets are? Completing a full IT inventory allows you to identify each asset, which is the perfect first step for implementing any cyber-security program. Create an accurate network diagram and maintain a ledger of all devices connected to said network, including applications, operating systems, and version numbers per device.
2. Introduce a vulnerability management and patching program:
Identifying your assets is only half of the process. You must also establish the vulnerability status of each device by running automated vulnerability scans of their complete network at least once a month, but ideally this would be more frequently. Reviewing said reports and issuing the recommended patches as soon as possible is also key. Vulnerabilities are what hackers seek out in a network due to them being exploited more easily with the hacker then being able to take control of the device, if left unpatched. When the device is under the control of as hacker, they can then establish a network presence and eventually locate other vulnerable assets on the network.
3. Conduct an ‘All Users’ awareness and training program:
The networks users (employees, vendors, contactors, customers etc.) has the potential to be the biggest vulnerability in a network’s cyber-security. And, as previously stated, a vulnerability is what a cybercriminal looks for when attempting to hack a system via phishing or other scam methods. They may be targeted in an attempt to fool them into revealing sensitive data, transfer unauthorised funds or reveal account passwords to the hacker. To combat this, an Acceptable use policy should be published to educate all users. Users should also be trained on safe email and browsing practises, as well as how to recognise scams and taught how to create a strong password. Investing in user awareness will be inexpensive and the resulting return on investment can be considerable.
4. Monitor information assets continuously:
Continuously monitoring security is recommended for an organisations network. Almost all devices on the network are capable of showing continuous log data reporting activity on the device. So by inquiring on this data, indicators of compromise may prompt an alert to the network administrator or security official which will result in a quicker eradication of the threat.
5. Incident response plan:
You should always have a plan of action should something go wrong, even if you believe your cyber-security program is exceptional. This plan needs to define who takes the lead, who has been put on retainer for external assistance (legal, forensic, law enforcement), and communication (both internal and external) in response to a cyber incident. Make sure that you have a response plan for each individual cyber-attack scenario. For example, ransomware, data breach, IoT intrusion, etc. Once this response plan has been put in place, make sure they are practised, tested, and finely tuned. Start with nailing down the basics and build on from there – this is key to help protect an organisation in the case of a cyber-attack or cyber-security breach.