Practical ways to keep your IT systems safe and secure

Practical ways to keep your IT systems safe and secure
Practical ways to keep your IT systems safe and secure

Cyber attacks can happen to all sized businesses, and when they do, the results can be devastating. Most companies will go out of business after a cyber attack, so it’s more important than ever that we learn to deal with them and protect our systems.

But it’s not just hackers or cybercriminals that can damage our systems. Floods, fires and even our staff members can cause damage to our systems.

Today we will be looking at ways you can protect your IT systems and keep your data safe.

Backup your data

The most important thing you should take away from this article is the importance of backing up data. You can use manual backups or cloud-based solutions. In our opinion, cloud-based solutions are best as they protect you against natural disasters and store your data in a separate place from your original data.

Suppose you want to be more security conscious and backup your data onto physical devices. This way, you are protected against online attacks and natural disasters.

Protect your physical hardware

With most of us working from home during the pandemic, it’s easy to see how hardware can be damaged. Most people will work with a drink in hand or nearby. This can cause you to spill the drink and ruin the laptop and all the data there.

If you allow your staff to take home office equipment, you should have an acceptable policy to avoid situations like this. Laptops are often lost or stolen too. If data is to be taken out of the office, the hardware should be password-protected, and the data should be encrypted.

Use strong passwords

Strong passwords will help keep your data safe from others who shouldn’t have access to it. Competitors, for example, may use corporate espionage and try to get access to your data through the use of weak passwords.

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You should consult with a security consultant and have them recommend a security protocol for your company. However, there are best practices that can be used when it comes to using strong passwords, such as:

  • No common passwords such as “password123”.
  • No pet names or family names.
  • Use upper and lowercase passwords.
  • Use special characters.
  • Use a minimum character count.
  • Please don’t write your password down and leave it around.

Don’t open files from people you don’t know.

Most cyber-attacks occur when someone opens an email from someone they don’t know, and they either click on a link or download a file. This is often done via social engineering, and it’s easy to fall for.

By educating your staff on the risks, this poses, you are far more likely to keep them safe and your systems and their data out of the hands of hackers.

If emails look suspicious or you don’t know the sender, then don’t open any files from them.

Use specialist equipment if needed.

In some work environments, such as medical, military or computing, you may need to use specialist equipment to protect your data. Anti-Static flooring is one example of this, and it can prevent a build-up of static in the workplace. This static attaches to your body and can jump to your hardware when you touch it.  

A static shock to a human is annoying, but it can have devastating effects on a computer system or in an explosive environment. ESD flooring is one way around this, and not only does it keep your data safe, but it keeps your staff safe too.

Use anti-virus software

This should go without saying but using anti-virus software within your business. You will also need to keep that software updated to catch the latest threats.

It would help if you also had software that scans for malware on your computer, as some anti-virus software won’t pick them up. You can get free versions of most anti-virus tools, so there is no excuse not to have an anti-virus.

Allow access to those who need it.

You should only allow access to staff who need it within your office. Only the people who need access to your server rooms should have it. If you want to protect your access, you can use biometrics; this ensures that only the right people will be allowed in your server room. Keys and pin codes can be shared, whereas biometrics can’t.

Apply software updates

Software updates patch not only bugs but vulnerabilities too; your company must update the software when new updates come out. Operating systems especially needed to be updated as old versions will have security flaws.

You can update your software at the end of a workday so that your business isn’t disrupted too much and you are still protected.

Lock your apps and folders

If you use company phones with company data, you can download apps that need passwords. You can use this as an additional layer of security, so if someone guesses your lock screen, they won’t be able to access your files and folders. Just make sure to use different passwords.

Use a VPN

Ever connected to a public hotspot? You could have left your business and your data open to others if you have. Using a virtual private network or VPN for short will hide your personal information and keep your data secure.

Encrypt your data

Data encryption will encrypt your data, so no one will know what it is unless they have the key to that data. Encrypting your data is one of the best ways to keep your data secure, as even if someone does gain access to it, they won’t have any idea what it is about without the key.

There are various ways of encrypting your data, which would entirely take up another article. But know that you can use software, hardware and even apps to encrypt your data.

Conclusion

Damaging your data can be done quickly, whether it’s something as simple as tipping a liquid over your device, having your device stolen or being a victim of a cyber attack.

When any of the above occurs, it can have devastating effects on a business. With the tips above, you should now be able to mitigate these problems and keep your IT systems safe and secure

Mark Funk
Mark Funk is an experienced information security specialist who works with enterprises to mature and improve their enterprise security programs. Previously, he worked as a security news reporter.