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When it comes to cyber security, getting the basics right is vital. Don’t assume you need to completely reconfigure your company’s IT network or purchase multiple pieces of software to be fully protected. Less can sometimes be more, and it all starts with following best practices.


1. Know your network

Start by understanding what your company’s network looks like - what software you use, how many devices are connected to your network, what devices are exposed to the internet, what type of data you collect and who has access to it. Not knowing your network is like wearing a blindfold. A cyber attack could happen at any point and continue undetected for months, compromising your valuable data, because you missed it. Learn your IT network and where vulnerabilities may exist, and you’ll be in a much better position to defend against a cyber attack.


2. Train your employees

Studies show that many data breaches are due to employee negligence and, due to COVID-19 normalising remote work, the risk has only grown. Anyone in your company who uses the company’s IT network, applications, or email server must undergo cyber security training. At a minimum, teach employees the cyber security basics and a few best practices for safe computing. They should know:

w what constitutes a strong password,

w how to use a password manager,

w telltale signs of a suspicious web link or attachment, and

w what to do if they receive an illegitimate email.

Remember that the level of training should match the job’s level of risk. Employees who handle financial transactions, for example, should receive additional education. Additionally, make sure training is not a check-the-box activity. Conduct regular workshops, either as a refresher or to raise awareness as you learn of new threats. Small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) often benefit from using a dedicated training solution or services instead of creating their own. A qualified service will not only provide expert tips on safe computing, but also foster a sense of shared accountability for keeping the company secure.


3. Patch and update software regularly

Keeping your software up-to-date is one of the easiest ways to find and fix vulnerabilities before a cyber criminal gains access. According to a study conducted by Ponemon Institute, 60 per cent of data breaches were linked to an available, but unapplied, software patch. When a software patch becomes available, it’s usually because the vendor identified a glitch, bug, or some other risk and the patch resolves the issue. If you choose not to install the patch, you’re leaving vulnerabilities open for cyber criminals to exploit. A patch management tool is a great option that enables you to automate scheduling and patching software, as long as you choose one that fits your unique needs.


4. Require strong passwords

Password attacks are remarkably successful because many people still rely on easily guessed passwords. Reduce that threat by requiring your employees to use strong passwords for all devices. Use unique and complex passwords for every account, composed of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Investing in a password manager tool is a wise choice as it automates the process of creating, using, updating, and securing passwords.


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