Cybersecurity tools are improving every day.  While there’s no fool-proof technology and no single “perfect” toolset, here are some best practices to help you choose the right cybersecurity technology for your small business.

Evaluate Your Current IT Environment

To start, be honest about how your IT is functioning now.  What works?  What’s frustrating?  Your network diagram, asset inventory, security assessments and software summary will come in handy during this review.

In addition, consider these questions to help you understand where there are vulnerabilities that technology could help protect:

  • What data do you have? Who has access to it?  How does it flow?
  • What hardware and software do you use?
  • Are you using current software versions? Are your systems regularly patched?
  • What are the internal and external vulnerabilities and risks to your IT assets?
  • If you had to completely shut down the network for a week to remediate, how would you operate your business?
  • After a compromise, what critical processes need to be restored first? What services need to remain operational no matter what? Are those services part of your backup process?

Answers to these questions and others will help determine the tools you need to protect your current environment and position yourself for successful recovery if needed.

Identify and Prioritize Technology Gaps

Think about which tools you’re currently using and where you could beef up your approach.  Identify any gaps you find based on internal company goals, best practice IT standards, requirements from your customers, competitive advantage, cyber liability insurance providers, or regulators.

From there, prioritize needed improvements. Fix the most critical gaps as soon as you can. Since one improvement often builds on another, plan to work in stages. Consider the process a journey of incremental changes to continuously close gaps and respond as new threats appear.

Explore Technology Options

We’re all familiar with tools like anti-virus applications and spam filters. Using current versions of your application software and patching them regularly are also routine practices. Continue to maintain these services.

Other effective tools to help respond to cyber threats include:

Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) – Also called Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), this requires an additional security validation beyond a username and password. It can be code sent to your phone or an app that provides a code on demand. If you have a choice, use an app on your phone such as Microsoft Authenticator for an extra security edge over receiving a text.

Password Managers – We still see password lists in Excel sheets or Word docs (those are not secure ways to store passwords). The average person has 100 passwords or more, and a secure password manager is an easy way to keep track of them all. Each user only needs to remember one master password to open their “password vault”.

Some password managers also include a feature that allows the company to access individual user’s vaults in case of an emergency or resignation.

 Encryption – Encryption can be a roadblock for cybercriminals by simply making your data more difficult to access. Use encryption on all machines and for sensitive email. Always use encrypted email if you must transmit sensitive data.

Reliable, Quickly Recoverable Backup – Everyone has a backup, right?  If you’re still using physical backup media (such as external hard drives), consider a more robust solution to help speed up and smooth the recovery process after an attack. Backup as a Service that includes both onsite and cloud replication can get you up and running faster.

Even if you save all your files to the server, there’s still more on your local computer than you may realize. So, remember to backup individual workstations.  Be sure to backup your cloud services too, including Microsoft 365 email, OneDrive, and SharePoint.

Application Allowlisting – This tool is part of a zero-trust approach, which assumes that everything – people, applications and devices — poses a risk to your network. This means every person, application, and device must be authenticated and authorized each time they request access. By insisting on verification and authentication at every step, zero trust makes it difficult for a hacker to gain access through a compromised user account or device.

Application allowlisting is a security layer with a twist – rather than blocking from the outside, it only allows access to applications that are explicitly permitted (allowlisted) to run on your network.  This helps prevent any malicious access to the network through an unrecognized program, installer, malware or ransomware.

Advanced Threat Detection and Response – These tools use broad-based threat intelligence to analyze your security ecosystem in real time, 24/7/365. Monitoring systems look for known, unknown, and highly evasive threats that could compromise your network. From there, automated and people-driven mitigation efforts work to neutralize or prevent attacks before they create vulnerabilities. These tools employ sophisticated data analysis requiring highly-specialized staff.

 Plan and Implement Changes

There’s no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to cybersecurity technology, and it’s an ever-evolving process. Regularly evaluate your company’s needs, note where there are gaps, and weigh options. Choose what will serve your customers and company most efficiently and cost-effectively.

If you need a place to start, consider these three steps:

  • Make deploying MFA a priority. Most hacks start with an email compromise and MFA helps keep bad actors out of your email accounts.
  • Patch your computers regularly. Increasingly, bad actors are exploiting known bugs in operating systems. Patch your computers several times per month and only run supported versions of software. Remember to update your phone, too.
  • Always backup with a focus on the ability to successfully restore. Backups that cannot be confidently restored are not helpful.

Overall, each well-planned action you take to improve cybersecurity technology in your small business is money and effort well-spent on behalf of your customers, your people, and the ongoing success of your company.

If you’d like to know more about how CRU Solutions can help keep your business safer, contact us.