10 Basic Cyber Security Measures To Implement Right Now

Since the pandemic began, there’s been a much greater demand for cyber security due to the increase in cyber threats that spread as fast as COVID-19. Now that most people are forced to work from home, the need for better security measures is urgent.

Businesses who may not have ever considered the need for cyber security until this point may be feeling overwhelmed, unsure of which services are required yet racing against time to ensure the virtual space of their business is safe.

Fortunately, there are some basic cyber security measures that you can implement now, which this blog will explore. It will also cover what cyber security is, the benefits of having sophisticated cyber security systems in place and why we need to be upping our cyber security.

What is cyber security?

Cyber security is how people minimise the risk and protect themselves from cyber attacks that involve the unauthorised use of data. It protects the usability of your network and all the data on it.

Essentially, its core function is to protect the devices we all use, whether they’re smartphones, laptops, tablets or computers, and the services we access, regardless of our location from theft or damage. It’s also about preventing unauthorised access to the vast amounts of personal information we store on these devices, and online.

Cyber security has never been more important, because smartphones, computers and the internet are now such a fundamental part of modern life, that it’s difficult to imagine how we’d function without them. From online banking and shopping, to email and social media, it’s more important than ever to take steps that can prevent cyber criminals getting hold of our accounts, data, and devices.

Benefits from tightening your cyber security

Nobody wants their network to be hacked. Tightening your cyber security reduces the chances of this happening and provides you with not only peace of mind but benefits that include:

Safeguarding of sensitive data

With increased cyber protection, you can be sure that your sensitive data is secure. And it’s not only your information that’s protected – your clients’ data is too.

Prevents legal action

Data breaches are very serious and can do a lot of damage to businesses. If you experience a breach that could have been prevented by having one of the many policies and systems in place, you may be facing a further loss through legal actions made against you.

Protects your reputation

There are further repercussions if you become a victim of a data breach as future prospects lose trust in your data handling. Clients have to put a lot of trust in you when handing over their data, so it’s important that your cyber security is strong enough to protect it.

Reduces costs

The cost of cyber attacks and data breaches can be significant, so it’s in your best interest to avoid them. If your website is compromised as a result of a hacker, every second your site is out of action results in a lack of sales, which can drum up serious costs.

Why do we need to up our cyber security?

Contrary to belief, cyber security needs to be updated and maintained regularly. The measures put in place several years ago will leave you open to vulnerabilities from hackers if not updated. Cyber attackers adapt and evolve and your security needs to as well.

Cyber attacks have grown since the start of the pandemic as more people than ever before began working remotely. This increased vulnerability as people began using home networks and even home devices, which are more susceptible to attacks.

Many hackers used the topic of the pandemic to lure people into phishing scams, which may not have happened if stronger firewalls or anti virus software had been implemented.

However, as many companies had never worked remotely before, they had to rush their transition to make sure they and their employees were fully set up,  and this meant there were more cracks in the system to be exploited.

10 basic cyber security measures

Here are the 10 basic cyber security measures that you can implement at short notice:

1)     Strong password management and protection

A strong password is the key to preventing hackers accessing your data. It doesn’t have to be an overly complex sequence, but it ideally should have the following:

  • Minimum of eight characters and maximum of 64 characters
  • At least one lowercase letter
  • At least one upper case letter
  • At least one number
  • Four symbols not including &%#@_.

Be careful not to use the same password twice as there’s a risk that, if it did become compromised, it gives a hacker access to multiple places. As a general rule, you should change your password every year.

2)     Two-factor authentication

Two-factor or multi-factor authentication provides an additional layer of protection on top of your password. Rather than just simply entering your username and password, you will also be prompted to provide another form of authentication. This includes a fingerprint, secondary password, or a code.

3)     Control access

Access control systems are designed to restrict certain people from accessing part or all of your network. It requires authorisation to gain privileged access, meaning people (including hackers) are unable to access business data and services they are not meant to.

Not only can you limit access, but you can also limit what can be copied, saved, sent or received from your network too. This gives you greater knowledge of the ins and outs of the network, preventing issues initially but also allowing you to spot any deviations from the norm.

4)     Firewall security

Placing a firewall on your network creates an initial barrier for cyber attackers. It prevents any suspicious traffic from even entering your device so hackers and viruses don’t gain access. These are important as once a virus or hacker has entered your device, it is harder to control.

5)     Install security software

As well as a firewall, you should also use security software to create the gate between your device and all the harmful viruses and malware on the internet. Security software scans everything to detect whether it is spam, malware or a virus attack.

6)     Keep your devices, operating systems and programs updated

Ensuring your software is updated helps remove cracks of vulnerability that hackers may use to gain access to your information. The updates contain improved protection against bugs and issues that have been found in the past. You can turn on automatic updates so that this is done for you.

7)     Back up your data on a regular basis

A data backup or backing up your data is something that you should be doing anyway so that your data won’t be lost should your device break or get stolen. More importantly, you should back up your data regularly in case you are a victim of a cyber attack. To remove a virus everything must be erased, so keeping a backup of your data means all is not lost and you can restore afterwards.

A good recommendation is the 3-2-1 rule:

  • Have three copies of your data
  • On two different types of media
  • And keep one copy in an off-site location

8)     Monitor for intrusion

Although this doesn’t actually stop a virus or other cyber attack, monitoring for unusual network activity or intrusions means that a solution can be implemented much faster. This is particularly important as many viruses are designed to stay dormant on your device for a period of time, but if you are aware of their presence from the beginning, you can take steps to remove them.

A detection system can set up an alert or an alarm to notify you if there is a potential information security breach or unusual activity. That way it can be dealt with immediately, keeping you and your organisation safe.

9)     Raise awareness

Software and systems in place to handle cyber security are important but ultimately, the safety comes from the actions of your employees to help prevent a cyber attack.

Raising awareness about it through training is a way of preventing issues of human error, such as falling for phishing scams. Employees are one of the weakest links in the system, but once trained, they can become an asset as they handle the data and are on the network more frequently so will notice changes more easily.

10)   Create a contingency or recovery plan

All of these measures are in place to prevent a cyber attack, but there may be an unavoidable situation where you do fall victim. In this case, it’s better to have a contingency and recovery plan in place and make your employees aware. This ensures that if the worst was to happen, it would be a much smoother process to find a solution.

Conclusion

Now is the time to increase your cyber security measures more than ever. As remote working remains the prominent way of working, cyber attacks will remain a higher risk.

With many ways to tighten your security, it’s recommended that you implement as many of these basic cyber security measures as you can, as soon as you can, before looking into more sophisticated software if necessary. With everything having some basis in the digital world, it’s vital you act now.

If you are unsure how safe your network is, we can help you understand your cyber risk exposure with a free network security audit or you can receive further guidance by downloading our physical security ebook.

The team at C>Ways hopes you found this blog useful, but if you have any questions or need further advice about cyber security, please don’t hesitate to contact us by emailing sales@cways.co.uk or calling our head office at 0333 344 8971 or our London office at 0203 475 8555. We hope to hear from you soon!