Good hygiene is important not only in our personal routines, but also in our virtual lives. Just like we need to keep our teeth clean and gums sanitized regularly to avoid expensive and painful dental work, your data needs to be kept clean with regular checkups and free of errors, duplication, poor password practices, and other lurking risks. Just like any routine, the key is in repetition. Not only do you have to repeat the practices, you have to keep the same standards each time to repeat them. Fortunately, routines create habits and eventually, habits become second nature. Here are some tips to create your cyber hygiene routine.
FOLLOW INDUSTRY BENCHMARKS AND STANDARDS
Remember that if an IT practice has gained industry-wide recognition and adoption, it’s because it offers some benefits. Protocols like the HTTPS implementation, SSL security certificates, CIS Benchmark, etc, are examples of industry standards that you should follow to maintain good cyber hygiene. Following these standards enhance your cybersecurity quotient and play a positive role in helping you win your customer’s trust.
STRONGER IT ADMINISTRATION
The role of an IT administrator is very critical in any organization. IT administration involves controlling most IT activities and watching the environment’s security to make sure that it’s never compromised. Make sure your administration rules and policies are clearly outlined and covers everything including:
- Clear definition of user roles
- Permission levels for each user role
- Restrictions regarding download/installation of new software
- Rules regarding external storage devices
Conduct regular IT audits to spot vulnerabilities and gaps that may threaten the security of your IT infrastructure. During IT audits, pay special attention to:
- Outdated software or hardware that’s still in use
- Pending software updates that make an otherwise secure software vulnerable
Fix what you can and get rid of what is too outdated since technology that’s not fully updated is a leading source of major risks.
PASSWORD POLICY ADHERENCE
When it comes to cyber hygiene, passwords are undoubtedly the weakest link. It’s normal human behavior for people to compromise on what they know to be good password processes simply for the sake of convenience. Here are a few things to investigate during your IT audit to ensure your password policy is being adhered to:
- Check if passwords are strong enough and follow your password standards
- Deploy a password management system to all users to prevent password laziness
- Discourage password repetition and sharing
- Implement multi-factor authentication everywhere possible
ENSURE BASIC SECURITY MECHANISMS ARE IN PLACE
As a part of your cyber hygiene check, ensure you have all the basic security mechanisms in place. These include:
- Anti-malware software programs
- Data encryption tools
- Physical security and access control tools like biometric access
PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT HAPPENS WITH OBSOLETE DATA
This one is as important as it is overlooked. Take a long hard look at how you get rid of data that you no longer need. Even though old data may not be of any use to you from the business perspective, a breach of that data can still hurt you legally. Deploy data wiping software and create policies for the safe destruction of physical copies via shredding or other methods.
IF YOU CAN’T FIND THE TIME, FIND A PARTNER
Strong cyber hygiene practices help keep your data safe from cybercriminals who are now focusing small businesses since they’re easier targets. The downside is that small businesses with limited resources often don’t have the manpower to keep up a healthy routine. If you find yourself struggling with time or researching best practices, just let us know. We can help you get the right routine in place and do the lever pulling for you.