Your go-to guide for healthy IT security

We live in a world with increasing cyberattacks and growing numbers of vulnerabilities. Hackers are becoming smarter and bolder all the time. That’s why it’s important for you to prioritize the health of your IT security.

When your IT security is strong, you’ll be able to protect your business from devastating cyberattacks, keep productivity high, and boost the confidence your employees and customers have in your ability to use technology in a dangerous world.

There are specific things you can do to achieve that goal. We’ve compiled this guide to discusses the key areas you need to address to keep your IT security healthy.

This guide includes the following sections:

  1. Planning an IT security strategy
  2. Improving your IT security
  3. Prioritizing security issues
  4. Getting employees involved
  5. Monitoring and auditing your systems
  6. Looking at trends to anticipate your next challenges

1. Planning an IT security strategy

Preparing and maintaining an IT security strategy is more complicated than ever before. The technology is changing rapidly. Experts discover new security vulnerabilities almost every day. Mobile requirements are increasing, adding even more complexity to the issue of security.

Key strategy issues:

1. Ensure that the strategy meets your business goals.

Today’s security strategy is most effective when business unit stakeholders participate in identifying requirements. It’s critical that you develop the IT strategy to meet business goals, not just technology goals. Involve key stakeholders to ensure that you identify the assets they manage and the risks associated with protecting those assets.

Today’s security strategy is most effective when business unit stakeholders participate in identifying requirements. It’s critical that you develop the IT strategy to meet business goals, not just technology goals. Involve key stakeholders to ensure that you identify the assets they manage and the risks associated with protecting those assets.

2. Include the entire IT landscape in the plan.

Some IT security strategies simply define what will happen when a security breach occurs. In fact, your security strategy needs to take a holistic approach. It needs to provide a roadmap describing how you will keep your data safe. It should be the result of a comprehensive risk evaluation.

3. Strive to reduce IT costs

When your plan provides an overall roadmap, it’s possible to find ways to reduce IT costs. Working with business unit stakeholders, you’ll undoubtedly find ways to take advantage of economies of scale.

Data security graphic with a laptop

2. Improving your IT security

Your strategic plan will identify a variety of ways to improve your IT security. The plan will help you maximize network security. Perhaps even more important, revisiting the plan on a regular basis will help keep your network secure.

Some of the global issues that you need to address include:

  • Hardware and software updates. It’s essential to update your operating system as the need arises. Not only that, but you need to do the same for all infrastructure devices and applications.
  • Life-cycle management. Create a strategy to manage the life cycle of all components such as physical devices, operating systems, and applications. Hardware-as-a-service is one option to take the load off your IT team and ensure your technology stays updated and healthy.
  • Firewalls. Use stringent firewalls and review them regularly to make required updates.
  • Passwords. Develop and enforce rigid password rules.

3. Prioritizing security issues

You know that the number of security issues you must address is increasing. Therefore, it’s important to prioritize your list of issues to make sure some of the more important issues don’t end up at the bottom of the list.

Here are some issues to consider.

Improve application security

Applications are one of the top targets that cybercriminals try to breach. Such attacks include Denial-of-Service Attacks, Account Access Hijacking, and Injection Attacks. You can foil the criminals by improving your application security.

These four steps can improve your application security:

  1. Evaluate all of your applications to chart the data they need to access.
  2. Find ways to make your most critical applications less visible on the internet.
  3. Assign additional resources to the most critical and vulnerable applications.
  4. Use flexible and integrated tools to manage prevention, discovery, and recovery.

Protect Common Endpoints

Endpoint security focuses on closing off access through network-enabled devices. Those devices can include telephones, desktop computers, and tablets. In manufacturing, there are devices connected to the network from the manufacturing floor. In healthcare, there are testing and charting devices connected at remote points within a healthcare facility.

The trend toward Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) that is further complicating the process of protecting endpoints. Depending on your IT landscape, you may need to include machine learning and artificial intelligence in your security plan to examine traffic and locate threats.

Improve cable management

Security strategies often leave out the issue of cable management. But, it’s an important part of the security planning process. Structured cabling is becoming the standard for network infrastructures. Modular cabling solutions and upgrading to optimize the network infrastructure are recent trends.

In many situations, network virtualization will help you to get the most utilization out of your hardware. Rather than addressing issues such as cabling, connections, and configurations, you’ll have more virtual ports without needing to invest in hardware. You should address the issue of virtualization in your IT security strategy plan.

Employees working in a office environment

4. Getting employees involved

You can’t overemphasize the role of human error in the successful data breaches of today. For example, reports from IBM indicate that employees who unwittingly open the door to data breaches accounted for two-thirds of the records compromised last year. These actions include everything from opening an attachment on a phishing email to misconfiguring a database.

In today’s environment, educating your employees on the devastating results of a data breach is critical. They need to understand the potential outcome of one slipshod approach to configuring a server. They need to know how to spot suspicious activity in their email or online systems. They need to know how to browse the internet safely.

Including a robust training program associated with IT security should be included in any IT security strategy.

5. Monitoring and auditing your systems

Vigilance is required to spot potential threats and defend against them. Implementing a system to monitor the data flowing into and out of your systems and networks is critical.

You can also follow best practices for auditing your operations to make sure your IT security measures are effective and that employees are using them conscientiously.

6. Looking at trends to anticipate your next challenges

In terms of IT security, your job is never be done. Staying up with the trends in IT security will help you to plan ahead. You can anticipate where the trends will affect your systems, and get a head start on finding ways to address the problems before they arise. You can also use these trends to update your disaster recovery and business continuity plan.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your IT security healthy can be a huge challenge. If you have questions or would like more information, contact your managed IT services provider for help.