How to Defend Against Cyberattacks

Navigating the world of cybersecurity can be an incredibly difficult task for any business owner. Cybercriminals are constantly developing new social engineering attacks, searching for vulnerabilities in security systems, and developing tools to attack businesses.

When discussing cybersecurity, a helpful metaphor is that of a castle. A well defended castle has four critical components to its defense:

  1. Sentries on the castle walls
  2. The walls around the castle
  3. Guards within the castle walls
  4. The normal people living within the castle

Each of these components relates to a part of your business’ cybersecurity. Without these components your business is missing critical defenses against cyberattacks and breaches. Imagine a castle without walls! Let’s dive into the four components of cybersecurity and how you can implement them:

Sentries on the Walls: Email Filtering and Scanning

The first line of defense for a fictional kingdom are the sentries patrolling the castle walls. In terms of your business, this represents the security features on your email. Just like a sentry, a good email security system will filter unwanted senders and scan anything allowed inside. Without email security measures, anyone from anywhere can send you anything. Social engineering scams, phishing attacks, spam mail, and even malware attachments can all be caught by your email security.

Depending on your email vendor, there may be security options already available to you. For some vendors you may instead need to invest in a 3rd party scanning solution to receive an appropriate level of protection. If you have an IT vendor partner, consult with them on which of the many available solutions is right for you. If you aren’t sure what options are available, we’d love to help secure your systems! Let’s get in touch.

Castle Walls: Firewalls and Network Security Measures

While the sentries are looking out at what’s approaching the castle, it’s your castle’s walls which determine what can enter your environment. In the metaphor, the walls represent your business’ firewall and general network security. A good firewall does two things: stops unwanted connections into your network and protects staff from connecting to unsafe external services or websites. Appropriate network security (like a password on your Wi-Fi and having separate networks for bring-your-own-device and company-owned devices) can dramatically reduce the vulnerability of a network.

When selecting a firewall there are some important things to keep in mind:

  1. Always use a reputable vendor! A firewall is only as good as the engineering team updating the device’s software.
  2. For your firewall to continue receiving critical updates, you will likely need to purchase yearly license renewals.
  3. When operating at full security capacity, the firewall can slow an incoming network connection considerably. It’s important to make sure you purchase a device that has enough capacity for your incoming internet bandwidth.
  4. Finally, your network may need certain features like a VPN connection or integration with 3rd party vendor servers. Some devices may not have these capabilities or need additional licensing to provide them. Don’t forget to check these features when selecting a firewall!

One of the major benefits of a firewall is the increased ability to manage your network. A good IT partner will be able to help you implement an appropriate firewall and secure your network.

Guards in the Castle: Antivirus and Patch Management

After email and network security, turn your attention to individual computer security. If something manages to slide by your castle’s walls, it’s up to the guards inside the walls to find and stop it. For computers, the best guard is a strong antivirus and a patch management policy. Where antivirus takes an active security role by scanning and stopping programs, patch management preemptively ensures your computers and programs are as secure as possible.

When looking at antivirus solutions, the most important thing is to get a ‘behavioral’ antivirus. Traditional antivirus is known as ‘definition-based’ because it must be programmed with the signature of every known hostile program. If something new is developed, the antivirus won’t be able to do anything to stop it until the antivirus is updated with the new virus’ signature.

In a behavioral antivirus, however, the program studies the behavior of the person using the computer in addition to having a definition database. This way it can detect if something abnormal is happening which hasn’t been programmed into the antivirus yet. For example, if the program recognizes you are almost never on your computer after 5pm but it sees a strange process start at 3am, it will stop that potential threat.

If you have a behavioral antivirus on your computer, your guards are in good condition and active!

The Kingdom’s Citizens: Training Your Staff

The last line of defense for a threat to your business is your staff. Some may argue this is also the first line of defense, though, because you can teach and train staff immediately without a financial. They are the citizens in your castle and can help your automatic security identify issues or threats. This is also the most critical component of security. All the automated security in the world can’t help you if one of your staff accidentally lets a cybercriminal directly into your sensitive systems.

For training staff, there are two effective methods which should both be done consistently:

  1. Training on emerging threats, social engineering scams, and good cybersecurity practices.
  2. Testing with fake phishing emails and other threats.

First, your staff need to be equipped to identify issues and dangerous events. Then, they need to be regularly tested to make sure they’re routinely able to identify and properly deal with cyberattacks. While cybersecurity is never 100% secure, having your staff adequately trained is an excellent defense against breaches and data loss.

Do You Need Help Defending Your Castle? Let’s Talk

Your time and expertise are invaluable, but do you have enough to spare for cybersecurity? The threat of a hack or breach won’t go away no matter how busy you and your team are. In fact, the number of cyber threats facing your business, and the cost of being targeted, is only growing year over year.

If you need a dedicated, professional IT security team to help secure your castle, reach out on our contact page for a free cybersecurity audit. Our team would love to discuss your current security systems and help start your cybersecurity journey!

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