Build an effective cyber security strategy

Every business should have a cyber security strategy. However, unless you have expert, up-to-date security knowledge or access to someone who does, how do you know your plan is effective? 

It’s no longer enough to rely on a firewall and device antivirus and hope for the best. You need to take a 360-degree view of where the threat is and how best to protect from it. 

Why you can’t ignore cyber security

Hardly a day passes when we don’t hear of another big brand falling victim to a data breach. If their cyber security strategy had failed, what chance do SMEs have? With ransomware attacks doubling figures in 2021, and estimates suggesting that an attack took place every 11 seconds, it’s easy to be despondent. 

Cyber security can seem daunting and complex to non-IT professionals. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you put the proper protocols in place with a foolproof cyber security strategy, you will significantly reduce the chance of falling victim to cybercrime.  

Building a cyber security strategy

It’s important to know where vulnerabilities can arise in your IT infrastructure. The Cyber Essentials framework helps clear that up for many businesses. The framework focuses on five main controls where vulnerabilities might be present.

  • Firewalls and Gateways
  • User Access Controls
  • Secure Configuration
  • Malware Protection
  • Secure Updates/Patch Management. 

See, simple. OK, maybe not quite, but bear with us! These five controls contain the steps you can take to form the basis of a successful cyber security strategy.

Firewalls & Gateways

A firewall is essential as it creates a buffer zone between your internal IT network or device and external networks. Within this buffer zone, incoming traffic is analysed to determine whether it should be allowed onto your network. Most devices have a built-in firewall, which is often not enough for businesses. Without adequate firewall protection, you are looking at network downtime. The worst scenario you can encounter without a firewall is total network collapse. Criminals can effectively shut down your business. And that can result in catastrophic damage.

User Access Controls

Every cyber security strategy should document a plan around access. That means checking what privileges your accounts have – accounts with administrative access should only be used to perform admin tasks. Staff accounts should have just enough access to perform their role, with extra permissions given only to those who need them.

Without proper access control, companies leave their staff and customers vulnerable to cyberattacks, data theft, or breach of privacy and data protection laws.

Secure Configuration

Your strategy should include checks on the settings of any new software or machine. Making the right changes, where possible, can raise your security level. Passwords should be easy to remember and hard for somebody else to guess. Look at implementing a password manager and multi-factor authentication, also known as MFA, across your accounts. 

Failure to manage the proper configuration of your servers can enable rogue agents to detect vulnerabilities easily with security scanning tools. Once found, exposures can be exploited very quickly and result in the total compromise of your systems, including databases and internal networks—scary stuff. 

Malware Protection

Everyone knows that you need antivirus software on all computers and laptops. Right? But it doesn’t end there – only download apps for mobile and tablet from manufacturer-approved stores (Google Play or Apple store). If you have apps or programs that can’t run antivirus, use them in a ‘sandbox’ to prevent them from interacting and harming other parts of your network.

Without malware protection, it’s only a matter of time before disaster strikes. It takes just one employee to click a malicious link which can infect your entire computer system. Then you’ll have a destructive virus shutting down your network, wiping your hard drives, and spreading to other companies and clients through the Internet.

Secure Updates/Patch Management

Take an inventory of all your software and ensure it is licensed, supported and patched within 14 days of an update release. Your cyber strategy should include a plan to remove the software from devices when no longer supported. Lack of regular patching means the existing ones will go out of date, leaving them vulnerable to cyber threats. Once companies are known to be susceptible at specific endpoints, hackers can introduce the perfect malware and exploit the weakness.

Taking your cyber security strategy further

The good news is that the five controls mentioned above set you on the path to a cybercrime-free future. But it isn’t the whole story. As you build your defences, your cyber security strategy should aim to significantly reduce risk and catch threats that would otherwise sneak through undetected. Scaling your cyber security can include introducing awareness training for your team and having a backup and disaster recovery plan.

Next steps

So now you have the basis of a cyber security strategy, why not look at some more of our resources? We can help businesses build an effective cyber security strategy no matter where they are in their journey. So, let us know when you’re ready, and we can work together to help you protect your business. Fill out a form here, call us on 03332401824 or email  

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