Cybersecurity has become a major topic of discussion in the business world. The increasing frequency of cyberattacks, combined with several high-profile breaches in recent years, has shed light on the impact a successful attack can have.
Despite growing awareness, many companies still don’t have basic cybersecurity policies in place, putting them at increased risk of data breaches or other types of successful attacks.
These are some of the most critical considerations for corporate network security. Considering these tips when developing a corporate security policy can help managers and leaders build strong cyber defenses.
1. Keep devices and software up to date
Outdated software and firmware can contain vulnerabilities that make devices more vulnerable to attack. Keeping these items up to date will help ensure that they cannot be compromised by hackers taking advantage of vulnerabilities.
This tip is especially important for businesses with a large number of Internet of Things (IoT) or smart devices. Each of these elements is connected to the Internet and is another attack vector for hackers.
IoT security can be much more difficult than securing devices such as computers and servers, but good practices can keep them safe. When setting up a new smart device, IT professionals should be sure to change default usernames or passwords and disable features that the business won’t use, such as remote access.
Once activated, all devices should be regularly checked to ensure that they are running the latest security patch available.
Learn more about eSecurity Planet: Best IoT Security Solutions
2. Use multi-factor authentication
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a common enterprise cybersecurity tool that requires users to present both a password and some other form of proof of identity when attempting to log in.
Often this proof is a code sent to the user’s email address or phone number which they then enter after providing their login credentials. This policy ensures that users are who they say they are, reducing the risk that hackers can compromise network accounts.
Although MFA is not as robust as passwordless authentication or a broader identity and access management (IAM) strategy, adding an extra layer to the login process is an effective way to prevent successful cyberattacks if a user’s password is compromised. Thus, many password managers offer MFA authentication as an additional cybersecurity measure.
Discover the best solutions: Best Password Managers for Business
3. Segment the network
Limiting user access to the corporate network can reduce the impact a compromised account can have. This is called least-privilege access, a basic security principle that grants employees access to the minimum systems, applications, and information they need to do their jobs.
The principle of least-privilege access is at the heart of tools like Privileged Access Management (PAM) software and frameworks like zero-trust security and microsegmentation. These solutions seek to create visibility into which users have access to which systems and to control the type of permissions they have.
This also applies to the different types of devices that may exist on a network. For example, a company can create a network segment just for smart devices, allowing them to connect to the Internet, but reducing their access to critical or sensitive business information. If a device is compromised, network segmentation will prevent the impact from reaching other segments.
Learn more about eSecurity Planet: The best microsegmentation software
4. Provide employees with cybersecurity training
Hackers can often gain access to organization networks without confronting the security software defending the network. Social engineering attacks are a common tactic used by criminals to gain access to commercial networks.
Phishing attacks have caused several high-profile breaches, including the successful attack on the COVID-19 cold supply chain in 2020. These attacks typically involve convincing emails that trick employees into taking action or providing informations. Cybercriminals can then access secure applications or data and launch subsequent attacks.
Training employees to detect attacks such as phishing emails can help protect your network against these threats. After the initial training, it’s a good idea to run a test or simulation to see which employees are still susceptible to a real phishing attack.
Read more: Insider threats on the rise
5. Prepare for mobile devices and shadow IT
It has become common for employees to connect their personal mobile phones and tablets to the workplace network. Although many employees can work more efficiently when they can use their own devices, it can make the system less secure without the right precautions.
To solve the problem of shadow IT, companies must implement a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) security policy that specifies what types of personal devices are allowed and how and when they can be used. This policy should also describe the specific requirements for these devices, including how they are secured and how often they are updated.
Implementing and enforcing a strong policy will help reduce the risk that personal devices can pose to the entire network.
Learn more about TechRepublic: Why your organization needs a BYOD policy
Essential Ingredients for a Network Security Strategy
Network security is likely to become even more important as hacking becomes more profitable and businesses adopt more complex network technology. Knowing the fundamentals of an effective network security plan will help business owners and IT managers prepare for the threats that cybercriminals can pose.
These essential ingredients include endpoint and IoT security tools, password managers with MFA capabilities, zero-trust and micro-segmentation tools, effective cybersecurity training for employees, and the strategic application of BYOD policies. The precise combination of these tools depends on the organization’s unique infrastructure and corresponding needs. Some businesses may need to plan for a substantial annual investment in advanced network security tools, but some basic cybersecurity measures rely more on intentional planning and preparation than on budget.
Read next: 8 low-cost ways to improve cybersecurity