3 Security Tips to Celebrate Cybersecurity Awareness Month

6th October 2018

Matt VanderZwaag Director of Product Development at US Signal has kindly provided us with a National Coding Week guest blog for Cyber Security Awareness Month.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and this year marks the 15th anniversary of the annual initiative to raise cybersecurity awareness.To celebrate this milestone, and to contribute to the cause, here are there are three security strategies to take to protect yourself and your business.

Keep Your Systems Up to Date

To begin, employ robust, secure standardized builds for servers, workstations, laptops and network infrastructure to help prevent unauthorized access by malicious users. It is also equally important to maintain the secure configuration of your systems by immediately employing security patches and other updates as soon as they become available.
If possible, be sure to update your hardware and infrastructure every few years to stay current with the latest technological and security developments. When disposing of hardware that stores data, it’s a good idea to remove the hard disks and destroy them. This includes removable storage media, including USBs, DVDs and CDs, and have these materials destroyed by a reputable security firm.

Educate Staff on Cyber Threats and Strategies

It’s essential to educate employees on the cyber threats they may encounter at work and at home, since these threats are becoming more and more common. If you have employees working remotely, especially if they are connected to your company’s network through VPNs and workspace browsers, implement comprehensive bring your own device (BYOD) policies. These policies are essential for protecting sensitive corporate data in the event a mobile device is lost, stolen or compromised.
In addition, strong password security is another important strategy in the workplace. To secure yourself and your organization, it’s important to implement strong passwords that are as long and random as possible. Moreover, changing passwords frequently, and avoiding reusing them will better protect yourself. In addition, leveraging two-factor or multi-factor authentication, when possible, is vital to mitigate the risks of poor password selection and password re-use.

Prepare and Test Your Incident Response Plan

Before a security incident occurs, it’s always a positive idea to have a plan and be prepared. Establish a plan for dealing with cyberattacks that outlines what to do, how to do it, who’s responsible for doing it and all follow up actions.
To begin, make sure you have the necessary information, materials, skills and capabilities in place to respond quickly and effectively. Then once you have a plan in place, test your plan regularly, using different scenarios and update it as necessary. Continuously monitor all systems and networks to detect changes or activities that could cause vulnerabilities and conduct penetration tests or other vulnerability assessments to identify weaknesses. Finally, use these exercises to finetune your detection and response capabilities.

There’s Always More

Simply implementing a few of these tips can help strengthen your defenses against cyberthreats, even as they continue to evolve and change. But don’t stop there – be sure to take advantage of the many resources available to help you beef up IT security in your organization.
Bio: Matt VanderZwaag is the director of product development at US Signal, the leading end-to-end solutions provider.