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Cyber Security Checklist – 10 Tips for Cyber Safety (part two)

Recent years have seen a sharp increase in both the frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks. While it tends to be attacks against large companies and institutions that garner media attention, cyber security analysts have noted an increase in the number of attacks targeting small to mid-sized businesses. In fact, in 2022 a study by Accenture found that 43% of data breaches affect SMEs, many of which aren’t properly equipped to deal with an impactful cyber incident.

Preparation is therefore the key to ensuring your business can fend off cyber attacks and recover promptly should a security incident impact your operations. By investing in a complete, integrated, and well-designed cyber security strategy you’ll support the integrity of your digital systems, protect your data against loss, theft, or corruption, and help safeguard your business’s hard-won reputation.


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Cyber security has emerged as one of the foremost threats to Irish businesses. Addressing cyber risks requires a multifaceted strategy that includes the deployment of technical tools, the establishment of robust policies, and adherence to best practices. In this blog, we will provide an additional 5 tips and strategies for building a strong security framework. Combine these insights with our previous article to ensure your business’s cyber defences and practices are comprehensive and effective.

Cyber Security Awareness Training

According to IBM, human error has a role in around 95% of cyber security incidents. You naturally trust your employees to act in your best interests, but what if they don’t know how to identify a phishing scam? What if they don’t understand the dangers of unsafe browsing practices? That’s where cyber security awareness training comes in!

By enrolling employees on a security awareness training programme, you’ll equip them with the skills they need to avoid preventable cyber attacks and handle your data securely. Here are some important components of an effective training programme:

  • Threat Awareness: Employees should be made aware of the most common cyber threats, including phishing, ransomware, spoofing, password hacking attacks, and software exploits. Explain some of the techniques used in these attacks, and the impacts they can have if left unchallenged.
  • Password Security Best Practices: Employees should understand the role they play in minimising account takeover risks through adherence to password best practices. Promote the use of long, complex, and unique account passwords, encourage the use of MFA where available, and stress the dangers that can arise from writing passwords down, or sharing them.
  • Phishing Training: Phishing attacks are responsible for more cyber security incidents than any other single threat type. Place special emphasis on phishing awareness in your training, ensuring staff understand the common characteristics of these scams and the coercive language they employ. Consider partnering with a training provider that can provide phishing simulation exercises, as these can be useful for testing staff knowledge and spotting opportunities for further training.
  • Data Protection and Privacy: Training should seek to educate staff on data protection and privacy best practices. Ensure staff are able to identify protected categories of information and other sensitive information types, including personally identifiable information, financial records, and confidential business information such as intellectual property. Inform staff of their role in terms of protecting such information, and give special focus to prohibited data handling practices, such as storing sensitive information locally on personal devices.


Use Mobile Device Management

As portable devices like tablets, laptops, and mobile phones have become more common in the workplace, mobile device management (MDM) solutions have become an increasingly vital cyber safeguard. MDM solutions enable IT teams to remotely monitor, manage, and secure employees’ mobile devices, providing a centralised governance portal that works across multiple mobile service providers and operating systems. By adopting an MDM solution, you’ll empower your IT team to perform a range of security functions to protect your mobile device fleet, including:

  • Enrolment and Configuration: Devices can be automatically enrolled onto the solution and configured with the necessary settings, policies, and access controls.
  • Application Management: MDM allows you to download, configure, and remove apps as necessary to ensure devices are equipped only with approved, work-related software tools. You can also remotely manage application updates to ensure software remains securely patched.
  • Enforce Security Controls: MDM solutions can be used to enforce a range of security controls and policies, including encryption, multi-factor authentication, and password complexity requirements.
  • Remote Wipe and Lock: Mobile devices are more susceptible to physical security risks, such as loss or theft. MDM can be used to remotely wipe and lock devices in the event that they go missing, keeping company data and personal information secure against unauthorised access.

MDM solutions can also facilitate remote patch management, device tracking, security monitoring and reporting, and network connection settings.


Establish Strong Network Defences

Network security protections act on a large scale to defend enterprise infrastructure against cyber threat intrusion and propagation. Network security architectures use technical tools to regulate network traffic according to security processes and rules, helping to protect the network and the data within it from both external and internal threats.

A range of practices and solutions can be used to maintain robust network defences. Consider the following as part of your cyber security framework:

  • Network Firewalls: Network firewalls inspect data packets as they pass across your network’s outer perimeter, ensuring that the source and destination comply with predefined rules. In addition to blocking access to untrusted websites, network firewalls can also detect and block malware, apply content filtering, and enforce security policies.
  • Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS): IDPS systems continuously monitor activity within a network in order to detect and block potentially harmful actions. Modern IDPS systems analyse patterns in network activity and system logs to identify trends that could indicate a potential or escalating threat. Once a threat is identified, alerts can be triggered to inform security administrators. Alternatively, automated actions can be applied to close the connection and isolate the danger.
  • Network Segmentation: Splitting a network into separate segments helps limit the damage if one section gets compromised, blocking the problem from spreading to other parts of the network. Traditional ways of doing this involve using firewalls, setting up Virtual Local Area Networks (VLANs), and applying Access Control Lists (ACLs).


Deploy Anti-malware Measures

Malware (meaning malicious software) is a ubiquitous cyber hazard that comes in a range of forms, each created for a distinct harmful purpose. Malware finds its way onto enterprise IT systems via numerous threat pathways, so combatting it requires a combination of tools, strategies, and practices. Consider the following steps to keep your network malware free:

  • Use Antivirus Sofware: Deploy antivirus software across endpoints, servers, and networks to identify, quarantine, and remove any malicious programmes that find their way into your environment.
  • Consider Extended Detection and Response (XDR): For the ultimate in holistic threat protection across infrastructures, cloud assets, apps, and identities, consider deploying an XDR solution. These advanced systems use artificial intelligence to detect subtle threat correlations, as well as signature-based detection to counter known malware threats. Enjoy comprehensive protection that defends against malware, account takeovers, software exploits, insider threats, data exfiltration, and more.
  • Use Sandboxing: Test new applications in a secure isolated environment known as a sandbox prior to introducing it to your network. This allows the application to be inspected for malicious payloads without risking the security of your wider network.
  • Disable Autorun: Disable ‘autorun’ on your workstations to prevent the automatic execution of programmes introduced through removable storage devices. This prevents malware-contaminated devices such as flash drives and SD cards from introducing harmful code to your devices and network.
  • Educate Staff on Malware Dangers: Train staff on the threat posed by malware and its common vectors of transmission. Stress the dangers posed by links and email attachments from unknown or unverified senders, emphasise the importance of downloading applications from trusted, reputable sources, and train staff on public Wi-Fi hazards.


Create Security Policies

Security policies are formal documents that set out rules and guidance designed to minimise risks to your data and digital assets. These documents should outline acceptable and unacceptable behaviours, and the roles, responsibilities, and requirements of employees in terms of interacting with your digital systems securely and compliantly.

The security policies you create should be tailored around your business processes and data handling activities. Some of the areas most commonly covered by security policies include:

  • Acceptable Use: An acceptable use policy sets out expectations for how employees use the organisation’s IT resources, including internet use, email communications, and social media interactions.
  • Password management policy: A password management policy should contain instructions relating to password complexity, change intervals, and protection, as well as guidance on the use of password managers (if applicable).
  • Business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR): This extensive policy document should provide detailed guidance on the recovery steps, redundancy measures, and backup processes to be activated in the event of an operationally disruptive incident, such as a cyber attack, data breach, hardware failure, or natural disaster. The policy should aim to recover critical systems as quickly as possible.


In Summary

Building a strong cyber security framework requires continuous adaptation to emerging threats, and ongoing re-assessment to ensure security measures remain effective as your business changes over time. By using this 10-part checklist as a starting point, you’ll set your business on a firm cyber security footing, giving it the defensive posture it needs to fend off the majority of common cyber threats.


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At PAQ IT, we’re dedicated to assisting businesses throughout Limerick, Cork, Galway, and beyond in embracing digital transformation for sustained growth and success. Through our innovative “Kaizen 360” program, we enable businesses to harmonize their people, processes, and business technology, unlocking the 75% of value often overlooked by other IT support providers.

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