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Checklist to Optimise your Protection for your Business against Cyber Crime

This checklist is provided as a guideline only. Please note that these steps must be implemented by trained personnel who possess the skills, methodologies, resources and the latest technology to implement the required precautions.

The Basics

This checklist provides only a starting point and a brief summary of the most essential security protection measures that must be implemented by every business. There are many additional security measures that are not listed here and may be necessary for particular organisations, e.g. where higher security standards are required.

Zero day vulnerability

There are some risks which cannot be prevented, e.g. zero day (or zero hour) vulnerability where hackers and malware developers have discovered a vulnerability or created malware and corrective action has not been achieved by software developers who create anti-virus, software patches, etc. Therefore, it is essential that effective system and data backups are operational so that you can restore / re-instate your system if it becomes compromised.

Managed IT Services

It is essential that your IT Security should be provided on a Pro-Active Managed IT Services basis. It is no longer viable to operate a “break-fix response” method of IT support, i.e. waiting for a problem and then asking your computer expert to fix the problem. The old-fashioned break-fix model involves major risks for your business.

Personalised Security Strategy

Develop a Personalised Cyber Security Strategy for your business – The required security protocols for your organisation will vary depending upon multiple factors such as the type of computer hardware, software, operating systems, communications equipment, physical security arrangements (e.g. server and backup systems location), etc. It is essential to have your security strategy designed and maintained for your particular business, with this work being carried out by computer professionals who can then operate your security policies on a continuous basis.

Pro-Active Ongoing Support

The types of computer security threats is changing and evolving constantly, therefore the precautionary and remedial steps required are subject to constant review and updating.

These steps are provided in good faith and in language that we hope makes sense to managers and non-technical computer users. Communicat takes no responsibility for the consequences of any generic advice provided. Computer users should seek the advice of a skilled professional to develop a personalised security strategy that is specific to the nature of your business, the types of computer technology systems that you operate, the level of security required and the budget available.

Managed IT Services strategy – Cyber Security for your Business

The most important pre-requisite to achieving IT security protection is to have a trusted partnership with a computer technology support company that provides the skilled professionals, methodologies and technological resources to deliver constant pro-active monitoring and support for your computer systems. In Computer Terminology this type of service is generally known as “Managed Services” or “Managed IT Services”.

Communicat operates a dedicated Managed IT Services Team – our Net2 team. Our Managed IT Support Service includes the following key areas:

  • Unlimited phone and remote online support.
  • Constant diagnostic monitoring of your computer systems to detect any unusual activity and automatically pro-active service including constant monitoring of your systems.
  • Communicat will initiate action to deal with issues as soon as they are detected.
  • Frequent updating of protective software including Operating System Patches, Protective Software Updates, Windows Firewall Management, Anti-Virus and other Anti-Malware systems.
  • Performance Monitoring and Computer Optimisation
  • Risk monitoring for drive space.
  • Identify any computers where protective measures are not operating, e.g. where there is a system fault or where users have attempted to remove or disable protective measures.

Follow this link to see a full list of Communicat Net2 Managed IT Support service.

Essential Minimum Cyber Security Checklist

The Communicat Net2 team can help you to implement and support your computer security strategy.  Then you will be able to focus on running your business with confidence that your data and computer systems are receiving the necessary level of protection against disruption and cyber-criminal activity.

We have prepared this list of minimum security measures in two categories:

A – User education – training and awareness that should be developed for every computer user in your business; and

B – Security Policies – policies and systems that should be set up to achieve protection for your systems.

A – Computer User Education

1Educate your Users about Cyber Security

Educate and inform your users to recognise suspicious computer activity and threats:

  • Report – Report them immediately to your computer support team.
  • Unusual Activity – Train your computer users to recognise any unusual activity such as a dubious or suspicious email, teach users that they should never forward such emails or share the file or object with any other person. Users should stop work immediately and contact the support team for advice. If the user is unable to obtain immediate assistance (e.g. after hours) then it is recommended to take notes and/or take a screen photo shot with your mobile phone so that your computer support team can analyse the issue.
  • Shutdown – If the user suspects that there could be a ransomware encryption, hacker operation or other malicious activity that as soon as brief notes or a photo have been recorded then users should shut down the computer as quickly as possible and call support.

2Sources of infection

Email is a common source of malware infection and other cyber threats, however email is only one of many sources of problems. It is important to educate users that they should never click on an email attachment or browser link unless they are 100% certain about the source and trustworthiness of the email. Users should be trained to hover over the attachment link to ensure that the source is legitimate, and if in doubt your users should seek a second opinion from IT Support.

3Spam

Teach users that Spam is not only time-wasting but also can be dangerous. Users should discuss their spam issues with computer support personnel to obtain advice regarding how to reduce the quantity of spam and incidences of malware arriving as spam.

4Safe protocols with passwords

There are many external systems that your users could potentially expose your passwords, e.g. if your users operate the same passwords on internal and external systems (e.g. personal email, social media, etc.) and those external systems may be hacked by criminals. Users should be trained to never use the same passwords for internal and external systems.

5Disable untrusted Microsoft Office Macros

This is a common method by which malware is transmitted. Unless you are completely certain that a Microsoft Office document is provided by a trusted source, you should never enable macros. If you receive an email which includes an attachment that is a Microsoft Office Document and Macro you should immediately delete the email.

6Data storage method

Do your users store important business data on their local PC, laptop or phone? Are these devices included in your cyber security policies and backup procedures? Consider requiring all users to store data within secure company data servers where backups can be more readily managed. If users must have local storage of data then ensure data backup arrangements are in place.

7Social Media Risks

Users should be educated to the risks of social media where personal details (birthdays, family relationships, etc.) may be exposed. Criminals are highly active observing social media in order to obtain personal information that can assist in perpetrating scams, including identity theft.

B – Security Management – for Managers and System Supervisors

1Passwords Policies

Implement Strong and Complex User Passwords Policies, including enforcement of regular password change policies – Communicat can configure your network system to operate security policies so that users are required to implement and maintain complex passwords that are difficult for criminals to break into.

2Third party internet connections

Make sure third party connections are secure – Another common source of criminal intrusion is where your computer system has a connection with an external service, such as Electronic Data Interchange, links to cloud-based systems e.g. email and cloud based software. Sometimes these connections have inadequate passwords or the password change policies in place. Also, if the third party software service is compromised this can provide a “back door” for criminals to access your system.

3Full Daily Backup

It is crucial that complete backups of your important data are achieved daily and that you also have regular backups of your entire system (including all software, operating systems and communication system configurations etc.) e.g. weekly. This is essential so that, if your data is compromised, you can restore your data with minimal disruption to your business. Also, if your overall system is infected or damaged, you will reduce the period of disruption and cost to your business while your complete system is re-instated.

4Monitor your backups

Backup systems require regular checking to ensure they are working correctly. Do not become too reliant on backup system reports that your backups are working correctly. Unfortunately this technology is not perfect and it is possible for backup systems to report that your backups are operating correctly, but in some cases this may be incorrect and backups may actually have failed. Many organisations have discovered this risk with serious adverse consequences. Therefore, your backups should be thoroughly checked on a regular basis by trained professionals. Regular Managed Backup checks are included in Communicat Net2 managed services.

5Patch and Update Software Management

Ensure that your Applications and Computer Firmware are managed with updates being applied to implement the latest supported and secure versions. Criminals are aware of the vulnerabilities of software and will target computers running outdated software and hardware.

6Patch and update operating systems and communications equipment

Criminals will exploit known security vulnerabilities in operating systems and communications equipment such as routers and firewalls.

7Anti-Spam protection

Ensure you have an adequate anti-spam systems. Communicat offers a range of anti-spam solutions to suit the level of protection required and the budget of each organisation. In most cases a a low-cost anti-spam system will be less effective than a more expensive anti-spam system. Spam is a major cause of inefficiency, and is also a source of ransomware and other forms of malware infection. You may find that a more powerful anti-spam system may provide faster anti-malware updates as protection against zero day/zero week vulnerabilities. Discuss your spam issues with your Communicat Adviser and consider options for more powerful anti-spam solutions.

8Adobe Flash, Java, Adware, etc.

Block web browser access to Adobe Flash, web advertisements and untrusted Java Code, as these are common methods for criminals to deliver malware.

9Restrict Administrator Rights

This is a method to ensure that any infection is contained within limited segments of your network computer system. It will help to prevent the spread of malware within your organisation.

Additional optional security measures.

1Multi-Factor Authentication

Provide access to users only after they have been shown to pass multiple security checks e.g. a secure password and a second check such as a knowledge test or using a physical token.

2Group Security Policy

Microsoft Office Macros – Consider implementing group security to prevent users bypassing polices regarding macros.

3Application Whitelisting

Configure your Network Security so that only authorised software can be installed on your computers and servers.

4Local Cyber Security SuperUser

Larger organisations may appoint an in-house CyberSecurity SuperUser who will act as the local go-to person for all users to refer to for any questions or concerns. Your Security SuperUser can then contact Communicat for advice. The Security SuperUsers will liaise with Communicat to make decisions such as, when there is unusual activity, whether to shut down computers and servers as a precaution against the spread of ransomware and malware.

What to do if your security is threatened?

If the security of your computer system is threatened, compromised, if your data is encrypted or other malware damage occurs then never respond to criminals who are issuing financial or other demands. Immediately contact Communicat. Why would you trust the criminals? Once they have blackmailed you and you fall victim to paying them, you can be sure that criminals will highlight you again in the future as a prime target for future security attacks.

Find out how we can help you secure your IT infustructure