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The essential components of a solid cybersecurity strategy

Businesses of every size and industry are vulnerable to cyber threats. Having a strong cybersecurity strategy in place to defend your organization against these threats, and recover quickly to avoid downtime, is an absolute must when it comes to the success of your business. Security should be one of the top priorities of senior management.

With that in mind, we have designed this simple guide to help you understand the primary threats that your business may face, as well as the solutions that are available as part of a solid cybersecurity strategy, including:

  • Cybersecurity threats defined
  • Types of Cybersecurity
    1. Critical infrastructure
    2. Cloud security
    3. Internet of Things (IoT)
    4. Network security
    5. Ongoing employee training
computer attack icon

Cybersecurity threats defined

Social Engineering – The use of deceptive methods to manipulate others into giving up personal information, data, or money.

Spyware – A type of malware that spies on your internet usage and personal information and then transmits the information to a third party for malicious purposes.

Ransomware – A type of malicious software (malware) that takes over your computer, locking it or stealing your data. It holds your computer or data hostage until a ransom is paid.

Adware – A type of malware that covers your screen or browser with pop-up ads. This software is usually unknowingly downloaded by the user when they download something else for free, such as a game.

Phishing – The practice of claiming to be a trusted person or a well-known institution in an attempt to collect personal information or money, or in an attempt to get the user to install malware. Phishing is an example of a specific type of social engineering.

Computer virus – A type of malware that replicates itself by inserting its own code into the code of other programs. Viruses can spread across networks causing rampant damage to businesses.

Data breach – An incident where data is stolen or taken from a system without the knowledge or consent of the system’s owner. Data breaches may be the result of intentional or unintentional actions by employees or deliberate, malicious attacks by outsiders.

Advanced persistent threat – If you are a larger enterprise organization, you may be at risk of an advanced persistent attack (APT). APTs typically affect organizations in sectors such as national defense, finance, and manufacturing. Their goal is to gain a competitive edge, steal information or intellectual property, etc over a longer time period than just a single breach or attack.

Types of cybersecurity

In order to address and prevent the threats listed above, it is necessary to understand that cybersecurity is not one thing, but a broad suite of tools and practices. The following are the main five components that make up the broader whole of cybersecurity.

1

Critical infrastructure

Critical infrastructure involves all of the cybersystems that society relies on, such as the electrical grid, traffic lights, water plants, national security, hospitals, and telecommunications.

If your organization is responsible for or reliant upon critical infrastructure it is vital to understand vulnerabilities and protect against them. Other organizations consider how an attack on critical infrastructures might affect them when writing and evaluating backup and disaster recovery (BDR) and business continuity (BC) plans.

2

Cloud security

As more businesses move to the Cloud, it is important not to overlook Cloud security. Cloud providers offer a range of security tools to help organizations better secure their data. One of the benefits of using the Cloud is having your data backed up to multiple locations. You also benefit from having a team of professionals on your side to help manage your Cloud security.

3

Internet of things (IoT)

Internet of Things refers to the wide network of connected devices, often the ones we don’t think of as being smart, such as printers, appliances, cameras, televisions, and more, that connect to the internet. IoT devices often include little or no security, and offer limited or no security patching, making them a security risk. With more IoT devices getting hacked, and few resolutions available, for now, it is necessary to carefully consider what devices are on the network (and why!) to avoid networking devices unnecessarily and increasing your risk profile.

4

Network security

Proactive network security is an essential element of any organization’s cybersecurity. Network security guards against malicious attacks, such as those listed above. Network security often includes the following:

  • A firewall to monitor and control network traffic.
  • Antivirus/antimalware software
  • Behavioral analytics to detect abnormal network behavior
  • Access control to limit who has control to what parts of the networ
5

Ongoing employee training

The final piece of cybersecurity is employee education. Employees are a vital part of your organization and your ability to keep your organization cyber secure. Employees are often the first target of cybercrime as they are easily accessed via email and social engineering attacks. As such, your employees should feel confident in their ability to recognize and respond to cyber threats. Employees should receive regular education regarding:

  • Safe email usage and web browsing
  • Unauthorized software (“Shadow IT”)
  • How to create strong, unique passwords
  • Understanding cyber threats
  • Understanding social engineering
  • Personal device use and any Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies

6 cloud solutions every SMB should have

Cloud services can save costs and improve productivity for small-to-medium businesses. That’s part of the reason why 69 percent of SMBs currently use some cloud solutions – because they allow you to have state of the art IT systems without a huge IT expenditure.

But cost is not the only reason to migrate. Cloud solutions provide SMBs with the resources to change the way they do business. Whether it’s faster internal communication, better relationships with customers, or launching your own online business, the cloud can be the foundation for real growth.

So how do you make the most of the cloud? The first step is to be aware of the kind of things that are possible with cloud solutions. Here are six of the most popular applications for SMBs:

1. Data storage

Storing data on the cloud has a number of benefits. You can access your data from anywhere, enjoy better protection against data loss, and it can actually be more secure than storing it on your own network. Cloud storage also makes disaster contingency planning easier – there’s far less chance of losing all your records if disaster strikes. Having your data in a single place like Dropbox Business or SpiderOak also makes it easier to sort and to locate critical information when you need it.

2. Communication tools

Managing communications across email and instant messaging platforms can be messy. This is especially true when some people work remotely, don’t have access to internal email and IM, or keep different hours to the rest of the team. Cloud solutions like Slack and Microsoft Teams help people work together in any environment, by blending elements of email, IM, social messaging and file sharing.

3. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

CRM makes it easy to manage your relationship with clients by storing contact data, recording the history of your interactions and tracking open support tickets. Cloud-powered CRM tools like Salesforce and Hubspot offer an easy, secure way to access customer records when you’re on the road. CRM data can also be used for sales reporting and for marketing work, such as customer segmentation.

4. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

ERP keeps track of all the moving parts of your business, from supply chain to payroll. It’s especially useful for larger operations with multiple locations, but cloud solutions like SAP and Oracle make an ERP implementation practical for SMBs. If your business intends to use the Internet of Things technology, such as smart warehouse devices, then ERP is the software platform that enables such changes.

5. Unified communications

Computers are great, but somebody still needs to answer the phone when a customer calls. There is a wide range of cloud-based unified communication solutions available for SMBs. You’ll find a number of additional features on each platform: virtual customer service agents, VoIP technology, intelligent call forwarding, and voicemail-to-email services. What kind of service is best suited to your office?

6. Web services

Ready to go digital by launching an app or e-commerce site? This requires an infrastructure to host your software, which can be an expensive barrier. Cloud platforms such as AWS and Microsoft Azure can host and run any applications that you can build.

Making the move to the cloud

Cloud solutions by themselves won’t transform your business, of course. Technology can only ever be a tool to help you realize your strategic vision.

As with any investment, it’s best to know what you want to achieve and then talk to an expert. Find a cloud technology partner who understands your goals, and consult with them about the right cloud solutions for your business.