DWD’s Top Six Ways to Improve Your Network Security in 2024.

Cybersecurity risks constantly evolve as hackers find new ways to identify vulnerabilities and penetrate network security to upload malware or steal data. For example, hackers are now using ChatGPT to develop more effective cyberattacks. To help you protect your valuable business information and other assets, here are six methods to improve your organization’s network security this year.

1. Update Your Cybersecurity Processes and Policies

Cybersecurity policies define how employees, vendors, and other end-users access IT resources, handle data, and follow security procedures. Your organization’s security policy should include guidelines for creating and protecting strong passwords, secure steps for accessing applications remotely, and detailed rules for email encryption and social media use. To update your security policies, first review your existing policies and procedures to determine whether they meet your current security goals and include the latest best practices. Then, develop a plan to address weaknesses and communicate the changes needed to managers, employees, and third-party users. Finally, track the changes you’ve made to ensure effective implementation.

2. Limit Employee Access to Data and Information

The principle of least privilege states that IT security architecture should be designed so that each user can access only the data, applications, and resources they need to complete their tasks. This principle is a component of the zero trust security model in which all users, devices, and other entities are considered untrusted. The least-privilege approach lowers the risk of a cyberattack by reducing a network’s attack surface. Limiting employees’ access to the minimum necessary for them to perform their jobs lowers the risk of a security breach and limits the reach of a successful cyberattack.

3. Require Ongoing Employee Cybersecurity Training with Random Testing

Security awareness training is the process that educates and trains employees about cybersecurity risks. Ongoing training equips employees with essential competencies and keeps them up to date on the best practices that help reduce the human errors that can lead to security breaches. Because phishing and social engineering account for the most malicious data breaches, adopting random testing, such as simulated phishing attacks using tools like Knowbe4, can reduce security risks by improving real-time employee recognition of these types of attacks.

4. Simulate a Hacker Attack with Penetration Testing

Regular penetration testing will help your organization strengthen its cybersecurity controls by identifying vulnerabilities in your network defenses. A penetration test is a manual security assessment in which ethical hackers use various methods to discover weaknesses in network security. Simulated cyberattacks, usually outsourced to a cybersecurity vendor, test for weak passwords, cloud vulnerabilities, unsecured web applications, and the effectiveness of phishing and other social engineering attacks on your workforce. An organization’s C-suite and IT teams then assess the results and develop a plan to fill security gaps.

5. Create an Effective Employee Off-Boarding Plan

Employees leaving an organization present substantial security risks, including deliberate or accidental data theft, malicious data destruction, installation of malware, or post-employment use of SaaS applications. To avoid these risks, an organization’s IT security team should work closely with the HR team to identify and address cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the off-boarding process. Off-boarding security best practices to secure access to organizational data include removing network access quickly and completely, monitoring outgoing employees for unusual network behavior, and securing company devices and other access points.

6. Complete a Cybersecurity Audit

To keep pace with the ever-changing cybersecurity environment, organizations must continually update their IT security policies and processes. An annual cybersecurity audit can help identify outdated policies, expose new vulnerabilities and hidden risks, and reveal areas where cybersecurity policies can be better enforced. Common flaws that a cybersecurity audit will uncover include inadequate password policies, unsecured external devices, outdated security software, and excessive permissions policies.

Make 2024 the Year of Cybersecurity for Your Organization

A network security assessment can help you determine your organization’s specific cyber risks and offer solutions to minimize costly data breaches. For a free network security assessment to help you better protect your business assets, contact us today.