Building Secure IT Systems

How to Build Strong & Secure IT Systems

You built your business into something you’re proud of. So it goes without saying that you don’t want it standing on shaky ground. In today’s hyper-digital world, cybersecurity isn’t a white picket fence keeping the neighbor’s dog away from your plants. It’s a crucial part of the very foundation of your business that ensures it doesn’t crumble to the ground. Here, we’ll give you four ways to ensure your technological foundations stay tall and strong.   

Prioritize Robust Security at a Network Level 

Your network is all the hardware and software that lets you communicate and exchange between devices. The complexity and interconnected nature of modern networks mean there are tons of potential entry points for bad actors. So, understanding and protecting them is crucial. 

Given the wide range of threats, a matching group of diverse security measures exists. To start, prioritize these three actionable first steps. 

Use a Firewall: Firewalls serve as the first line of defense in network security, filtering out unauthorized access and harmful traffic.

Apply Advanced Encryption: Industry-standard encryption methods like AES can help you protect your data, whether at rest (stored) or in transit (being sent). It essentially creates a secret language for your data, turning it into a code that is hard to crack without the right key. 

Use Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IDPS): IDPS systems give you real-time protection by monitoring your network traffic. They detect and respond to threats automatically, offering in-the-moment alerts and updates so you’re never caught unaware. 

Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) 

One of the most practical measures a business can take to protect themselves is enabling Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) on as many accounts as possible. In fact, a Microsoft report recently suggested that using MFA on your accounts could potentially block 99.9% of account attacks!

How does it work? With MFA, users are verified with two or more of the following types of identification:

  • Knowledge: Something the user knows, like a PIN or password.
  • Possession: Something the user has, like a key or cellphone.
  • Inherent Quality: Something the user is, which would include fingerprints or facial recognition.

If you’ve had to input an authorization code that was sent to your cellphone or e-mail after entering your password, you have used multi-factor authentication.

This method can seem like an annoyance to the untrained, but those in the know understand that enabling MFA means your password is no longer the only thing standing between hackers and your sensitive data. 

Practice Identity and Access Management 

Whether you’re protecting an art museum or the White House, it doesn’t matter how many fancy security cameras and laser tripwires you’ve set up if you don’t know who’s entering and exiting the building. That’s why secure locations always use clearances, keycards, and sign-ins to determine who can go where within their premises. Identity and Access Management (IAM) is essentially the digital version of this. IAM ensures only those who need access to specific systems get it, and those who don’t aren’t snooping around where they shouldn’t be.

To control who has access to your sensitive data, start by: 

Defining Access Levels: Catalog your sensitive data and where it lives. Then, determine who needs access to do their job. For example, just because HR needs access to sensitive personal data doesn’t mean your marketing team does as well. 

Developing Controls: Decide who can access what resources and to what extent. This is where you will use settings such as read-only access, edit permissions, and develop different clearances based on role and decision-making power. 

Reviewing and Monitoring: Regularly review all your permissions and controls to ensure they are still relevant. Especially as employees leave or are hired, access rights can fall through the cracks, leaving vulnerabilities for hackers to exploit.

Conduct Regular Security Audits 

It’s not enough to just develop a solid security foundation, set it, and forget it. Because hackers constantly develop new methods and exploit new vulnerabilities, you must practice vigilance to stay one step ahead. 

Regular, scheduled security audits are like maintenance on your car; painless enough if you take it seriously, but a potentially huge headache if you don’t. 

To do so, develop a timeline and checklist so you know what needs to be reviewed and when you’ll do it. 

Consider regularly auditing these aspects of your systems:

  • User Access Permissions
  • Firewall and Antivirus Effectiveness
  • Physical Device Security
  • Software Patches and Updates
  • Compliance with Legal Standards

If you ever feel lost in tech jargon while trying to grow a business, we’ve got your back. At Solid Base IT, we want technology to be the bedrock of your success, not a daily hurdle. If you need assistance implementing (or understanding) any of the previous steps, just call us, and we’ll happily walk you through it. Or just get the job done so you can get back to growing your business. Contact us here.