Cybercriminals have their sights on all organizations — from mom-and-pop shops to multinational corporations. While larger companies typically employ legions of IT and cybersecurity experts to safeguard their business from cyberattacks, many companies rely on small IT teams (some even as small as one person) to handle security.
Just because you’re working with lean resources, doesn’t mean you can’t properly protect your business. Here are five cybersecurity tips small IT teams can put into action to keep safe from cyber attacks.
#1. Educate Your Team
Humans are typically the weakest link when it comes to cybersecurity as hackers seek to exploit vulnerabilities unintentionally caused by employees. Start by educating your team members about the importance of cybersecurity and the potential risks they may encounter. Conduct regular training sessions to keep them informed about the latest threats and best practices.
Here are some specific topics to cover:
- Phishing emails: Phishing emails are one of the most common types of cyberattacks. Teach your team how to identify phishing emails and avoid clicking on links or opening attachments from unknown senders.
- Social engineering: Social engineering attacks exploit human psychology to trick people into revealing confidential information or taking actions that compromise security. Teach your employees how to recognize social engineering attacks and how to protect themselves.
- Malware: Malware is malicious software that can damage or disable computers and computer systems. Train your team on how to identify and avoid malware.
- Security best practices: Keep your people updated on general security best practices, such as keeping their software up to date, using a firewall, and backing up their data regularly.
Make cybersecurity education a regular part of your team’s training schedule. Also, designate a single point of contact or email aliases (e.g., [email protected]) where employees can report suspicious activity (e.g., phishing emails). Finally, keep an open door policy and let employees know they can come to you with any questions they have about cybersecurity.
#2. Keep Software and Systems Up to Date
Outdated software and systems are prime targets for cybercriminals. Ensure your operating systems, software applications, and security tools are regularly updated. These updates often include important security patches that fix vulnerabilities.
Delaying updates, whether due to negligence or concerns about compatibility issues, can be risky. Cybercriminals often target known vulnerabilities because they know they have a higher chance of success. By procrastinating or manually managing updates, you’re inviting hackers to strike. To avoid delaying updates, consider setting up a controlled environment for testing updates before deploying them across your entire network.
Many operating systems and software applications provide automatic updates. Enabling this option ensures your systems are regularly patched without manual intervention. Automatic updates not only save time but also reduce the likelihood of missing important security patches. Cyber threats evolve rapidly, and every moment an update is delayed is an opportunity for hackers to exploit a vulnerability.
#3. Use Strong Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Cybercriminals frequently attempt to breach accounts by exploiting weak or stolen passwords, so make password security and 2FA a critical part of your defense. Encourage your employees to create strong passwords by using a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters—avoiding easily guessable combinations like “password123” or common phrases. Longer passwords, ideally at least 13 characters, provide better resistance against brute-force attacks.
Discourage the use of personal information, such as birthdays or family names, as these are often targeted by cybercriminals to crack passwords. And attempt to get your employees to rotate their passwords regularly. Regular password changes can help mitigate the risk of unauthorized access, especially if an account’s credentials have been compromised.
Streamline security practices by adopting password managers within your business. These tools generate and securely store complex passwords, simplifying the process of using strong, unique passwords for each account and eliminating the need to remember multiple complex passwords. Additionally, password managers can prompt users for regular password updates, further strengthening your security.
2FA adds a layer of protection beyond passwords. With 2FA, users provide a second form of verification, like a one-time code, after entering their password. This makes it challenging for cybercriminals to access accounts even if they have the password. There are several 2FA methods, including SMS codes, authenticator apps, hardware tokens, and biometrics, allowing flexibility based on your business’s needs. Consider mandating 2FA for sensitive accounts, like email and financial systems, to fortify security in critical areas.
#4. Back Up Your Data Regularly
Data loss can be catastrophic for your business, especially if it’s the result of a cyberattack. Data backup ensures your critical information and assets are preserved even if the worst happens (cyberattacks or unforeseen disasters). Whether it’s customer data, financial records, intellectual property, or operational documents, the loss of such information can lead to operational disruptions, financial loss, and, in some cases, irreparable damage to your brand.
Regularly back up your data and store it in a secure, off-site location or within the cloud. Automate the process so your assets are always backed up, and establish protocols for restoring your data in the event of a breach. This can be a lifesaver in the case of ransomware attacks or data corruption.
#5. Invest in a Security Solution
Your IT team must be equipped with the proper tools so that your company maintains an effective security posture. To that end, consider investing in a cybersecurity solution tailored to the needs of your specific organization. A cybersecurity solution is a cost-effective investment compared to the potential financial losses, legal repercussions, and damage to your brand that could result from a cyberattack.
Plus, doing so demonstrates your commitment to protecting your business, customer data, and reputation.
A comprehensive cybersecurity solution should include the following:
Firewalls are your first line of defense against external threats. A cybersecurity solution should include a firewall that filters network traffic and blocks unauthorized access, preventing malicious entities from infiltrating your network. It acts as a barrier between your internal systems and the outside world.
Intrusion detection helps in spotting suspicious activities or potential threats within your network. These systems continuously monitor your network for anomalies and known attack patterns, enabling early detection and swift response. This proactive approach can prevent breaches from escalating.
24/7 Monitoring, Detection, and Response
Cyber threats don’t adhere to a 9-to-5 schedule, and neither should your defenses. A comprehensive cybersecurity solution offers around-the-clock monitoring to ensure threats are identified and addressed promptly, even during non-business hours. Look for solutions that provide real-time threat detection and automated or manual response capabilities.
Enhance Your Security Posture with Blumira
By implementing our five cybersecurity tips, your business can reduce the risk of falling victim to cyberattacks. Remember that cybersecurity is an ongoing process that requires vigilance — and Blumira can help. Our SIEM+XDR platform combines logging, endpoint security, automated 24/7 threat monitoring, detection and response into one easy-to-use solution. Demo Blumira XDR today.