How to Build Your IT Network Security Plan
Certain things things like COVID-19 can’t be prevented, but having an IT network security plan in place will keep you protected from preventable disasters.
As any business owner knows, it’s essential to do what you can to prevent situations from spiraling out of control and costing you a ton of money. The best way action to take is always preventative and proactive. This is true across all business functions in your company. That said, preventative maintenance is absolutely vital to your digital business infrastructure and your IT networks to ensure that preventable catastrophes don’t occur.
There can be no doubt that the rise of criminal cyber activity around the globe is having a massive impact on businesses of all sizes. The threat of lost data, identity theft, or stolen financial details looms large. Any flaw in your security, no matter how small, could have catastrophic consequences: loss of money, the downtime of your network, loss of customers, and a tarnished reputation, all of which could easily combine to put you out of business.
The more reliant you are on your IT network for your daily operations, for service or product provision, or for business-critical data security, the more important it becomes to ensure you have a robust and watertight IT network security plan and policy in place. In this article, we look at a template for creating your own security plan to keep your business safe from cybercrime or hardware failure.
Step 1: Create an IT security policy for your employees to follow
In a medium to large organization, you will likely have many employees in many different departments or locations all accessing and relying on your IT infrastructure. Even small companies often have to manage staff in varied and remote locations, which opens the door for devices, software, and general IT routines to become scattered and decentralized. One of the challenges of creating a workable and effective IT security plan is to ensure everybody is on the same page.
Your staff needs to be aware of the threats to your network, their responsibilities, and the policies and procedures you have put in place. Your IT security policy should be clearly communicated to all employees; it should outline the potential result of negligent security and what their responsibilities to the company are from an IT security perspective.
The following is a brief guide to putting together your IT security policy:
- Audit and record a meaningful list of all external drives, including USB drives, and list the employees who have access to them. Clearly state who has access to what and ensure password protection is up to date and adhered to.
- Before working out a backup strategy, you need to audit your business to identify what constitutes business-critical data. How often does it change?
- Use one of the many available password managers to help you install and maintain a robust password management strategy that everyone can stick to.
- Business leaders need to take responsibility for industry-specific IT security risks. Ensure key personnel are keeping tabs, learning, and reading.
- In-house knowledge is in-house power. Identify key personnel with IT-specific responsibility and ensure all training needs are met.
- Make sure the IT security policy is constantly updated and easily accessible to all who need to be aware of the contents.
Step 2: Create your IT network security plan
With a robust, easy-to-follow, and accessible IT security policy in can place, you can turn your attention to your IT network security plan. This is comprised of the technical details, the assigned responsibilities, and the safety procedures that are likely to be required. It’s almost certain that you won’t be able to take on every task – you may not even have an internal IT team – so it might be prudent to work with a third-party IT cybersecurity team like 24×7 IT Solutions, to get their expert advice and let them help you create an IT security plan.
Some of the core elements of a successful IT security plan include:
- Ensure that your firewall is as good as you can afford, is regularly updated, and that at least somebody in your employ is aware of how it works and can take responsibility for its upkeep.
- Anti-virus software is a critical part of your IT security strategy. Make sure you have software that is appropriate for the needs of your business and make sure it’s always updated. It’s best to make sure you have automated updates set on any security software you use regularly.
- Ensure that all devices used for business, regardless of whether they are used in the office or remotely, are up to date, accounted for and that their unique users are known. Only people assigned to those devices should have password-protected access to them.
- Employ a company-wide password policy and ensure that it’s supported with appropriate password management software that everyone has access to.
- Set your business-critical data backups to automatic so that you know it’s always happening and cannot be forgotten. If you save to the cloud, it’s worth making an extra hardcopy and storing it safely off-site. Make sure you test all your backup routines to guarantee they are working as they should.
- Ensure all employees who use connected electronic devices are taking responsibility for their devices, keeping them updated with the latest security patches, whether in-house or working remotely.
- Make sure all software, regardless of who uses it and what its business function is, is set to update automatically to ensure that no loopholes are left exposed by forgotten updates.
- Go for two-factor authentication in all your business email setups. Most providers offer this as standard now, and it dramatically increases email security, a common entry point for hackers.
- Create a download policy to ensure that only approved programs are allowed into your network, that programs are assessed for security and immediately updated to the latest version to minimize security vulnerabilities.
Keeping your business safe from any potential losses incurred from preventable cybercrime is important. Creating an IT network security policy and an associated security plan will go a long way to keeping your business, your employees, your data, and your customers safe and sound.