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Cyber Security: Every Business should follow these basic steps - Industry Expert Series

In the ever-evolving landscape of the digital age, the significance of cybersecurity for businesses cannot be emphasized enough. The growing frequency and sophistication of cyber threats, as witnessed in recent incidents affecting prominent entities such as Optus, Medibank, and the Australian Parliament House, underscore the critical need for robust cybersecurity measures. In this article, we’ll delve into essential steps that every business should adopt to establish a strong foundation for cybersecurity.

 1. Employee Training and Awareness

The human factor is often the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. Therefore, empowering your staff with the knowledge and tools to recognize and thwart potential threats is crucial. Cyber awareness training, such as the KnowBe4 program, equips employees with the skills to identify phishing attacks, understand risks, and appreciate the importance of strong password management. Encourage a culture of reporting suspicious activities through user-friendly mechanisms.

 2. Strong Password Policies

Implementing stringent password policies across all organizational programs is vital. From staff logins to network equipment access, enforce the use of complex passwords. Utilize password managers to securely store and manage passwords, and consider integrating Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) for an additional layer of security.

 3. Updating and Patching

Outdated software and systems are prime targets for cyber attacks. Regularly update and patch all software, including operating systems and applications, to fix vulnerabilities and prevent exploitation. Though it may seem like a constant stream of updates, it is a critical aspect of maintaining a secure IT environment.

 4. Firewalls

Firewalls act as the gatekeepers of your digital property, monitoring and controlling incoming and outgoing network traffic. Establish robust firewall rules to block or allow traffic based on security policies, providing a crucial defense against unauthorised access.

 5. Application Control

Understanding and managing the myriad applications used across your organisation is essential. Be aware of the software landscape, from office applications to specialized tools, and ensure they come from reputable developers. Guard against Shadow IT, unauthorized software installations or purchases, which can pose significant risks and incur unforeseen costs.

 6. Access Control

Grant access to sensitive information only to those who strictly require it. Regularly review and update permissions to align with employees’ roles, avoiding the accumulation of unnecessary access rights. Ensure that transitions between roles trigger appropriate adjustments to access levels.

 7. Regular Security Audits

Conduct both internal and external security audits and scans regularly to identify and address weaknesses. External audits against recognised standards like Essential Eight, NIST, or ISO/IEC 27001 provide valuable insights and recommendations for enhancing your overall security posture.

 8. Insurance and Backups

Invest in a robust backup system that is regularly tested and monitored. Backups play a crucial role in business continuity, aiding recovery from cyber attacks, equipment failures, or other disasters. Consider cyber insurance to mitigate the financial impact of a security incident, covering legal fees and associated costs.

As the cyber landscape continues to evolve, staying informed and implementing these fundamental cybersecurity practices will fortify your business against potential threats. The collaboration of employees in maintaining a vigilant and secure environment is invaluable in this ongoing battle between good and bad actors. By adhering to these basic principles, you can significantly enhance the safety of your business and its valuable data.

Niek Lange
Systems and Security Administrator

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