Published11 June 2020at09:49, updated on10 October 2022at16:22
As businesses around the world begin preparations for the return to the office, a shadow still looms over IT departments: cybersecurity.
At the beginning and height of the pandemic, the surge in remote work and a new wave of malware attacks put extra strain on network and infrastructure security. Now, with some employees staying at home while others go back on-site, these challenges remain a priority.
In 2012, the U.K.’s National CyberSecurity Centre (NCSC) debuted a series of cybersecurity guidelines that are now used by most companies in the FTSE350. It is never a bad idea for IT leaders and security experts to consider these 10 proposed steps when assessing their company’s overall security measures.
First things first — Make a full inventory of all business-critical assets and infrastructure. Make sure you get the full picture of your strengths and weaknesses. Once that is done, IT and senior management should decide together what level of risk can be assumed and outline a comprehensive security strategy. All concerned stakeholders, from staff to partners and suppliers, must be made then aware of said policy.
No one sets out on a journey without first doing a thorough check-up of the vessel. Make sure all your systems and tools are configured properly and that the latest updates are installed. Disable unnecessary functionalities and fix any issues that might compromise your ecosystem.
The IT network of today’s businesses is vast, intricated and somewhat obscure. It combines different physical locations with cloud services and remote workers and collaborators. In this context, you must think of any and all vulnerable points of entry and put processes like VPNs in place to minimise risks.
Invest in the malware prevention tools, paying special attention to the functionalities offered in relation to your current and future needs. These tools can come in the form of both software solutions and policies regarding the exchange of information.
Not all employees and users need access to everything in your network. Split your users into levels and assign different privileges to each of these groups, limiting access to the most sensitive information to a few users. It is a simple step that can save you a lot of trouble if an attack gets through, effectively serving as a firewall around the more critical parts of your network.
Outline and implement a clear process for identifying and managing incidents whenever they appear. When doing so, keep in mind response time and inter-departmental collaboration to ensure a smooth and efficient response.
Put in place security awareness programs and carry out training when necessary. Human error is still the first cause behind enterprise data breaches. Simple-to-avoid malware tactics like phishing can be effectively managed by promoting a security-conscious culture across your stakeholders.
COVID-19 has made it more evident than ever that work extends beyond the office doors. Your employee training and awareness programs should include recommendations on how to work remotely in a safe manner. Make sure you complement this approach with the proper software and network security tools like the aforementioned VPN.
This is another area in which education and awareness play a big role. Removable devices such as USB sticks and hard drives are a great conduit for malware to spread. They also complicate the safeguarding of any information that is exported out of the system. Awareness initiatives in this area should be accompanied by specific software tools and policies, like limiting what information can be exported and by who.
Finally, remember to stay alert. None of the above steps will suffice unless you establish a comprehensive and ongoing surveillance system. Set up all the monitoring software that you will need to protect your network and train your IT staff to spot any irregularities early on.
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