As businesses continue to grow, so does the amount of data stored and shared. Companies are constantly trying to keep up with the ever-evolving changes in technology and staying aware of the exposure facing their information technology (IT) systems and data. While many companies are aware of the threats to cybersecurity, many fall short of knowing how to stay protected when cybercriminals attack their company networks. This results in leaving fear and damage to the business in their wake, and a loss of confidence and a damaged reputation. One attack can cost a company days and millions of dollars to resolve. The good news is that cyberattacks may be preventable, but they can also be controlled. Doeren Mayhew’s IT assurance professionals offer six ways your business can stay knowledgeable and secure.

1. Understand the ins and outs of cybersecurity

Cybersecurity can often be misinterpreted. This lack of understanding creates a problem when knowing how to approach a best defense against internal and external threats. It is crucial for staff to be cognizant of infiltration, security breaches, data theft and other security threats to build awareness for the future. It isn’t enough to rely solely on technology to mitigate these risks as employees are still extremely likely to be manipulated through social engineering.

2. Educate employees on best practices

The possibility of an attack can be significantly reduced if there are company-wide security practices in place. Since employees have continuous access to company and customer data, knowing how to handle different types of security attacks would be an important value to the company’s overall defense. One of the ways in which employees can be educated is through a comprehensive and continual training program to highlight what threats to look for. A company should not have the mentality that only IT professionals can safeguard against cybercrime. All employees should know how to prevent and detect security scams. Having a plan to determine what actions to take, such as who to notify and how to protect the data, can decrease disruption of the business to effectively problem-solve the issue. Many insurance providers require businesses to have employees engage in training, either in person or online, to ensure they are knowledgeable on common tactics used by cybercriminals.

3. Update security and password settings

As valuable as it is to have a strong IT team, it is just as valuable to follow the prompts of security updates and password changes. Though user-managed passwords are extremely common amongst security certification, they also pose a very big liability. Passwords can be easily decoded by hackers and when the same passwords are used across multiple channels, the probability of data theft is much higher. Until biometric identification becomes a staple (i.e., fingerprint scanning, facial recognition, voice printing, retinal and iris scan), passwords should be updated regularly – every 60 to 90 days or so – with new combinations of upper- and lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. Keeping your software up-to-date is another guard against allowing hackers access to pertinent information. The benefits of updated software limit a hackers’ ability to find vulnerabilities within your infrastructure as they are constantly trying to find outdated system software to manipulate.

4. Continuously monitor data and its storage

The importance of data security doesn’t stop at technology controls. An area that is widely overlooked is the monitoring of a company’s information system. When network monitoring is overlooked, the time to respond to a security breach can become the problem. Monitoring allows any unfamiliar activity to be exposed quickly, allowing companies to step in and take control of the situation. While there are tools to help companies monitor their information systems, many use third-party vendors to assist in having complete coverage day-in and day-out. Additionally, encrypting confidential data and storing it within the network or on an external storage drive can reduce the risk of losing private information to an attack.

5. Create data segregation

Creating segregation of data and managing user access to data,  as well as having a clear understanding of who has access to certain networks within a company and what types of access each person has makes it harder for hackers to gain certain privileges to sensitive information. Having proper controls in place can also limit the ability for internal fraudulent activity.

6. Get an unbiased assessment

In order for your business to stay secure, your IT systems need to remain reliable, secure and invulnerable to cyberattacks. Seeking the assistance of a third-party provider with credentialed information systems professionals to provide an IT audit can help provide assurance to management that systems are secure and data is safeguarded – while also building confidence with your business’ customers. Your internal IT team can only protect what they are aware of. An outside assessment can help you identify what they aren’t aware of.

Most cybersecurity threats and attacks can be avoided and controlled by having the right controls, and policies and procedures in place. Whether these practices are already a staple in your business or not, it is important to understand the incessantly evolving nature of cybercrime and to continue to stay current with ways to defend your company against attacks.

Look to our team of Certified Information Systems Auditors to help assess your system’s environment, identify its risks and provide recommendations for cost-effective controls. Contact them today.