Understanding IT Threats & Improving Your Security Posture
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and its purpose is to help individuals and businesses understand the cybersecurity landscape, potential threats and steps to mitigate risk. This year marks the 20th campaign, and the cybersecurity landscape has drastically changed during that time. The tactics cybercriminals deploy are increasingly sophisticated. Now more than ever, we must take proactive steps to secure our tech environments.
This month of awareness and resources is organized by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Agency (CISA) and the National Cybersecurity Alliance. This year, the campaign is expanding to a year-round effort called Secure Our World. The initiative aligns with DMC Technology Group’s approach to IT cybersecurity as a vital partner in helping organizations develop and maintain a robust security posture.
When was the last time your business engaged in a security risk assessment? Do your employees know how to identify and prevent phishing attacks? Is software continuously updated to apply the latest security upgrades and patches? These are just a few steps The National Cybersecurity Alliance suggests initiating this month and moving forward.
As a managed services IT partner for businesses of all sizes, DMC is on the front lines of cyberattacks. We monitor clients’ technology systems around the clock to identify potential threats. We deploy proven strategies from industry-leading partners and our experienced engineers implement cybersecurity solutions that protect the most complex environments. This month, we’re honoring National Cybersecurity Awareness Month with some strategies for improving your IT security posture.
What Is Cybersecurity Awareness and Why Is It Important?
Cybersecurity awareness is understanding potential cybersecurity threats and best practices for protecting every aspect of your technology landscape, from networks and computer systems to email, cloud-based apps and mobile devices. We know cybersecurity can feel overwhelming in our digital world. Virtually everything we do in life and business is somehow connected to technology. Because of this, the windows of opportunity for cybercriminals are ever-expanding. That is, only if we give bad actors the keys. Ultimately, this is the point of Cybersecurity Awareness Month: to inform, share knowledge and secure our world.
Cybersecurity awareness includes:
- Employee education and training to understand and prevent cyber threats
- Understanding financial and reputational risks businesses face when security breaches occur
- Preparing an incident response plan to proactively manage cybersecurity breaches
- Awareness of legal and regulatory compliance requirements so businesses and individuals understand their responsibilities
- Promoting cybersecurity best practices and re-committing to essential tech security measures
Specifically for businesses, cybersecurity awareness is crucial because what you don’t know about your IT security posture can cause significant damage to your organization.
- Reputational damage
- Loss of customers
- Downtime, related costs and missed sales opportunities
- Legal ramifications and fees
- Loss of intellectual property and data
- Reduced employee morale
Cybersecurity Awareness Education for Employees
Employee education centered on cyber threats should be ongoing, and we realize that everyday business can push security training down on the priority list. But taking the time to deliver cybersecurity awareness education to employees is just as important as teaching job-related skills. After all, safely navigating the tech landscape is their job, too.
DMC helps businesses create comprehensive cybersecurity policies for their team members. Even simple efforts like teaching employees how to create strong passwords or use multi-factor authentication go a long way toward protecting your IT environment.
Here are some basic employee cybersecurity training topics to cover.
- Assess employees’ cybersecurity knowledge with surveys to identify knowledge gaps.
- Consider employees’ job roles to tailor training for their position.
- Develop and clearly communicate your company’s cybersecurity policy including expectations, guidelines and consequences for non-compliance.
- Implement phishing simulations to test employees’ ability to recognize and respond to phishing emails and text messages.
- Create a cybersecurity incident response plan.
- Use real-life examples and case studies to explain social engineering tactics like baiting and tailgating.
- Enlist in an IT managed services partner like DMC to execute an employee cybersecurity training program and resources—you don’t have to do this alone.
Business Cybersecurity Awareness Checklist
Aside from essential cybersecurity employee communications, your business can improve its cybersecurity posture and reduce the risk of threats during Cybersecurity Awareness Month by taking these crucial action steps to mitigate incidents.
Now is a great time to renew a commitment to cybersecurity. It’s a 24/7/365 necessity to protect your business from data breaches and losses, both reputational and financial. DMC offers a security posture checklist with critical IT cybersecurity measures that all businesses should deploy. One of those is effective security awareness training to help employees understand proper cyber best practices and their role in helping combat IT security threats.
Following are other high-impact essentials to implement in your overall cybersecurity strategy.
Assess Cybersecurity Risk — As noted, an IT security assessment will set the stage for your cybersecurity strategy by identifying vulnerabilities, potential threats and plans for resolving incidents.
Backup and Disaster Recovery — If a security breach occurs, what’s the plan? Every business should have a business continuity plan in place that includes how you will effectively backup and recover to reduce downtime and regain access to mission-critical systems, applications and data. This coincides with incident reporting protocols so employees know how to respond when a security breach occurs.
Endpoint Detection, Protection and Updates — Your IT environment extends far beyond office computer systems and tech infrastructure. End-user devices including smartphones and tablets are equally vulnerable to cyber threats. There are more endpoints attached to networks than ever before, which is why your business needs to protect those devices with elevated security measures. Additionally, endpoint updates to stay current with security patches will ensure ongoing protection.
Email Protection — This is the main entry point for phishing attacks and other sophisticated hacks. Email protection should guard against credential phishing and email compromise, and there must be a plan for investigating and remediating attacks.
Conditional Access — Who has access to your cloud-based and on-premise applications? For added security, there are solutions that allow employees to access those applications only when they are using trusted, compliant devices. You can’t be sure that home laptops and devices are equipped with the IT security measures to protect your business. So, conditional access is another layer of protection.
Multi-Factor Authentication and Strong Passwords — The National Cybersecurity Alliance emphasizes this practice in its October Cybersecurity Awareness resources. Enable multi-factor authentication that requires employees to provide two or more verification factors to gain access to password-protected information. Also, examine your password policy. Use strong passwords, and then implement the Windows Local Administrator Password Solution (LAPS) to automatically manage and back up those passwords.
Next-Generation Firewall — Modern, high-impact firewalls should include threat protection, gateway security or multi-engine sandbox detection. This tool analyzes suspicious code and behavior so you have full visibility of malicious activity to resist potential threats.
Encryption — By encoding messages, hard drives and personal information, only those with authorized access can gain access. Encryption also protects workers when they are working off-site or from home.
Domain Name System (DNS) Security — DNS servers can be cyber attack targets orchestrated in conjunction with other security breaches. Bad actors compromise DNS servers to distract IT security professionals from the main target, which could be sensitive information or proprietary data. DNS is how employees access apps and IT services, whether on-premise or in the cloud. So if DNS is compromised, your business is shut down until the attack is remediated.
Life Cycle Management — This speaks to the critical need for ongoing cybersecurity awareness and oversight. It includes maintaining up-to-date hardware and firmware, along with support to safeguard systems.
Grow Cybersecurity Awareness with DMC
Cybersecurity awareness is a year-round pursuit. Businesses can’t afford to let their foot off the gas pedal of managing IT security. We recommend starting with an IT security assessment to identify vulnerabilities. DMC delivers thorough cybersecurity assessments conducted by our multidisciplinary team of IT engineers, who examine every facet of your operation. From there, we build backup and disaster recovery protocols, IT strategic plans and can oversee the entire tech environment to protect your business from cyber threats.
Posted by Greg Gomach, Business Unit Manager at
DMC Technology Group