A 2021 report by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has revealed that 65% of all data breaches in the year from January to June 2021 were because of malicious or criminal attacks, 30% were because of human errors, and 5% were because of system faults. These numbers are concerning, and for good reason too – your company’s data deserves to be protected from all types of threats. Network and IT security can be quite intimidating, but data breaches are avoidable if you take necessary measures. We’ve put together a checklist to keep your company data safe from all types of attacks.

1. Have a strategy

Craig from Business IT Support company MSP BlueShift says, “No business is too small to have an IT strategy. Since any business can be a potential target for an IT attack, it is essential to have a data breach strategy that meets industry regulations. Make IT security a part of every meeting. This includes periodic checks, security audits, updating and adapting, and having a data breach plan of action.”

2. Protect against malware

To secure your network and computers from malware, keep your firewall turned on at all times. This keeps malicious software at the gate. Then, use security software to keep every official device safe. Anti-spam software can scan your emails for any potential threats. Use encryption to safeguard all official communication.

3. Update software

Software companies invest a lot of time and energy into making sure their software is safe from ransomware attacks. To do so, they release periodic updates of their software that patches their weaknesses and makes it harder for hackers to break into your network. Once you purchase software (be it an operating system or a network) update it regularly to maintain standards. This safeguards you from hackers that may use the vulnerabilities of old versions e to breach your network.

4. Update hardware

Just like software, hardware must also be updated periodically to rectify any weaknesses. Older models of hardware, particularly hard disks and RAMs may be susceptible to attacks from ports and drives. Updating your hardware to industry standards maintains the security and integrity of your organisation. Additionally, do not plug in unidentified and unscanned drives into your official devices.

5. Have access control measures

Having levels of access within your company will give you more control over data protection, both locally and on the cloud. Give every employee an identifiable unique ID so that they have access only to the information they require. Use a content management software to limit access and secure important data only to the authorised staff. Document who has access to what on a spreadsheet to keep this information at hand.

6. Do regular background checks

Conduct background checks on any potential employee to get an idea of their online presence and any potential links to cybercrime operations. This particularly applies to the employees of your IT wing. It is advisable to opt for reputed security firms to ensure that your data is handled with care.

7. Back up data

Some malware completely erase all the data on local servers, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages. Some anti-malware software may self-destruct to prevent hackers from accessing information. In both these cases, it is useful to have a local backup of your data so that you can access it in times of emergency.

8. Have audits and tests

You are only as strong as your weakest vulnerability. Put yourself into the shoes of a hacker to think about what they would target, and how they would do it. Understand the weaknesses of your current network and management system by conducting regular checks and audits. This will help you see if everything works the way it should, and identify any weak links.

9. Train employees

One of the most important aspects of IT security is to make sure the entire company is on the same page. Train your employees about cybersecurity essentials and company IT policy. Cover topics like not reusing passwords, using strong passwords, keeping their mobile device safe, not using public Wi-Fi networks on their official devices, and following clearance protocol for accessing data.

10. Use secure passwords

Use strong passwords at every level. Do not use the same password for more than one device or service. Wherever possible, use a password generation and management system to generate long strings of alphanumeric passwords and biometrics – this will lessen the risk of password breaches.

11. Ensure device and Wi-Fi security

Do not ignore mobile devices when it comes to IT security. Do not use any official devices or personal mobile phones on public Wi-Fi networks. Public, unencrypted networks are easy to hack into. Logging into official websites on your personal mobile device can expose vulnerabilities in your company’s network policy. Your IT policy for employees must also include additional instructions for those that work from home.

Investing in IT security is one of the wisest ways to ensure the best interests of both your company and your clients. Our handy tips will help you secure your business and reduce the risk of attacks.