Friday, October 19, 2018

5 Steps to Cyber Safety: IT Perspective

By: Jeff Williams

We recently posted a blog detailing how business leaders could safeguard their companies from cyber-attacks. This week, we will focus on IT-related steps to help ensure your business is protected from cyber-attacks.
  1. Make sure your systems are up to date. While the world of ever-evolving technology may make lives easier and more efficient, it also can leave individuals and businesses at greater risk of issues due to outdated software. New threats and problems in software are identified daily, and it is critical that these points of access are removed. Unfortunately, the older the system, the more difficult this can be. An effective method to ensure older systems stay protected is to make sure your systems are still being patched, and actually apply these patches.
  2. Encrypt data during transport/storage. One of the easiest ways to protect information is through encryption. By encrypting data, information will not be usable to hackers even if it is stolen, effectively preventing unwanted issues when your data is “at rest” (or being stored). Additionally, in this age of portable media, taking information outside of your office is easier than ever. Making sure that mobile devices do not contain key information in accessible formats can make the difference between losing our property and safeguarding it.
  3. Establish company-wide password policies. While it may seem like a minor detail, the importance of password strength cannot be overlooked. Regulations on password length, expiration time-frames and password sharing must be followed by all workers throughout an organization to keep sensitive information safe. It could be beneficial to consider adopting Two-Factor Authentication as well to provide an extra layer of defense to company passwords.
  4. Back up critical data using a secure method. Having data backed up in a secure method is a must for any company, but one step that is often overlooked is to validate that the backed-up information can be restored. Just like any other item you have, back-up media can lose efficiency and reliability over time, and often you cannot be sure if it is successfully backed up. Taking the time to simulate a recovery situation is essential to confirm that not only the information is safely stored, but it can be accessed if needed.
  5. Strengthen your wifi policies. Wifi is everywhere these days – in our homes, in our favorite coffee shop and even on airplanes. But while it is something that is easy to access and use, unfortunately many times it also can be very insecure. Through ensuring your wireless communications are secure with encryption and limited by passwords, you can eliminate the possibility of unwanted individuals accessing your data through wifi. However, due to how readily available wifi often is, many times it is expected that businesses will provide wifi to guests. By separating your internal users and guest users via “guest networks,” you can remove the possibility of outsiders obtaining information they should not have.
Establishing safe cyber practices is the best decision for your company, data and employees as business becomes increasingly intertwined with technology, and cyber-attacks become increasingly sophisticated. With these steps in place, combined with business leaders’ efforts to protect information, your company will be set up for cyber success.

Learn more about how The Center can help protect your information here or contact cyber@the-center.org.


MEET OUR EXPERT
Jeff Williams
Program Manager, Cybersecurity

Jeff Williams is a Program Manager for The Center’s cybersecurity team, leading our efforts to educate and equip small and medium-sized manufacturers to guard against the growing threat of cyber-attacks. One of his main areas of focus relates to the cybersecurity requirements outlined in NIST Special Publication 800-171, designed to protect the information security systems of contractors working with the Department of Defense. In addition to serving Michigan’s manufacturing community, Jeff also is involved with training other Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers across the U.S. This effort will enable those centers to provide cybersecurity services to manufacturers in their states.




Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

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