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How to ensure higher levels of IT infrastructure security for the future

All companies know that proper cyber security is vital for protecting valuable customer data and ensuring business continuity.   But as companies grow so too does the complexity of their IT systems and we are also seeing the rise of ‘the new normal’ with the increase of remote and home working, a trend that is likely to grow faster following the lock-down.

No doubt you will have installed some form of virus protection on your IT network and will also have a firewall set up to protect your systems.  But that is often the point at which many security regimes will stop, whereas in reality, this should just be the starting point. Without re-aligning your security protection to fit this new normal, you could be leaving yourself open to hacking, malware and data theft.

The good news is that the security tools you have put in place for your IT Infrastructure, often come with many more features, often un-used, which you can implement to increase you level of security.  The trick is knowing what they are, what their purpose is and how you can get the most from them.

So to help you beef up your security here are our 10 security tips for getting the most from your security systems:

1. Using your Firewall to monitoring your network traffic.

Most companies don’t monitor their firewalls, they don’t assess risks highlighted by it and they don’t monitor outbound traffic.  You can monitor the traffic into and out of your network through your firewall’s tools.  Make sure that you activate the reports and review them regularly.  It is even better if this tasks can be allocate to someone who fully understands the data and knows what to do if they spot problem.  Do not simply rely on the firewall alerts to highlights dangerous activity as hackers may know how to circumvent these warning systems.

2. Stay up to date on new threats.

The biggest threat to businesses at the moment is unpatched applications that have known or recently discovered vulnerabilities built into them.  All virus protection and IT security companies offer regular updates of recently identified threats and IT media outlets regularly publish information about any new vulnerabilities that have been uncovered.  You will probably find that there is a notification service built into your anti-virus software.  Utilise these resources as they will help you ensure that you keep your network closed to unwelcome visitors.

3. Manage Automatic Updates.

Seems a fairly obvious move, but you would be surprised how many managers have not activated their operating system and security software’s automatic updates services.  But just because an update comes from the original vendor does not make it safe.  At least 10% of vulnerability problems have appeared following a Windows or other product update.  Again, keep an eye on communications in the IT media and do not rely solely on the auto-updates.  Make sure you regularly check your system by undertaking manual updates to check on the currency of your security software or if there has been a recent ‘service pack’ issued.

4. Train your employees on security protocols.

As soon as a new employee joins the company they should be made aware of your IT Security protocols.  Point 2 above will give you awareness of the latest threats so communicate these to your staff as well.  Regular ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ type security news-letters will help promote awareness of the latest Phishing scams and malware and will help your staff to recognise potential threats and irregularities.

5. Think about your security footprint.

What is your security system boundary and what do your endpoints look like?  The New Normal will mean that more of your team will be working remotely or from home, the total footprint that your security systems need to cover has greatly increased and now includes your employees’ home networks.  Thought needs to be given to the relative security of home routers, WiFi and other devices connected to the home networks as these may be security weak-points.

6. Protect against data loss.

We all know how important it is to back-up your systems and company data.  For ultimate security it is vital that you use an external storage resource that is not situated in your main location.  If your head office is hit by a fire or flood, it will also take out your back-ups as well as your systems.  Good external back-up solutions, like Continuous Back-up from Innovate,  will provide a data protection solution which puts its own firewall between your main system and your back-up storage. This will protect your business from data loss if your network’s security is breached.

7.  Free services are great but …

Be cautious of using the free services such as One-Drive or Drop-Box.  They are great services but are limited on size and network capacity.  When the crunch comes and you need a rapid re-store to get your business up and running again, you may find that they are slow to download and have only backed-up half of your data!

8. Have your Access Keys been compromised?

The majority of data breaches happen because a user’s access keys (i.e. user-names and passwords) have been compromised.  This often happens because people use the same password on multiple external web sites and services.  An example of this is the recent hack of EasyJet’s customer database which exposed 550 million customer records including their user names and passwords.  Think how many other web site accounts a hacker would be able to gain access to if they obtained your password for just one.  And what’s more, you may not know it has happened.  You can easily check if your email address has been compromised by checking: https://haveibeenpwned.com/.  

But also look to beef up access keys in your company by requiring the use of more complex and secure passwords such as those containing more than six or seven characters and mandatory capitals, numbers and symbols.  Similarly, you can assign different levels of access to you users so that if they are a victim of an attack, they endanger only lower security critical levels in your system.

9. Check your IT supplier is up to the mark.

Being a loyal customer to any supplier is a great thing.  However, a lot of IT companies are set up to support specific types of systems and applications. They may not support all the applications and elements in your systems, particularly if you install new applications and utilities as your company grows.  Check to see if your IT provider is able to take care of your whole system now and into the future as they may not have the expertise to cover everything.  Remember, it only take a small hole for a hacker to get in and if things go wrong it is your business applications and your customers’ data that are potentially on the line.

10. Consider the cloud.

There is a perception that, because cloud platforms and services are served via the internet, they are less secure than on-premises systems.  This will depend entirely on the cloud service providers that you chose and the services that you pay for.  However, a high level cloud service provider like Innovate, will include all the cutting edge security protocols and systems within its all in one service, as opposed to most of the big-tech brands who will require you to pay extra for this.

Innovate applies the most advanced data security techniques and adopts a multi-layered security approach which includes end to end data encryption, strong access & key management and the very latest malware and firewall protection.  It is vital for our company’s reputation that we continue to keep our customers data and applications secure within our platform.  Quite literally “your data security is our reputation”.

Another great advantage of migrating to Innovate’s cloud platform is that most of the activities highlighted in this list will also be taken care of by us.  This leaves you with more time and resources to concentrate on your customers and building your business.

Who are Innovate and how can we help?

Innovate is a leading UK cloud services company, which provides a high quality cloud platform, cloud hosted services and IT consultation to customers in multiple vertical sectors.  We have over 17 years’ experience in helping companies like yours with IT infrastructure and solutions and can help you with all of the lessons highlighted in this paper.

Because Innovate owns, manages and develops its own cloud infrastructure, rather than re-selling space from other providers, we have been able to focus on stability, security and service quality; right from the start.  We have deliberately built a high performance platform utilising the best in hardware, networking and operating software.  We have also designed and built our own management suite in order to monitor and control your systems and services, to make sure they are always performing at their best.

The Innovate cloud platform has taken remote access to the next level of technology.  All through the lockdown, we have been providing secure, seamless remote access for all our customers, allowing their teams to carry on working whilst isolated at home. This has allowed our customers to concentrate on keeping their businesses running during this difficult time.

There are many benefits to migrating your IT infrastructure into the cloud, both in terms of cost saving and operational efficiency.  We have helped many of the UK’s biggest brands transform their business IT Infrastructure, reduce costs, streamline processes and introduce revolutionary new services with cloud computing. We would very much like to help you switch on the power of the cloud and make your company more streamlined, efficient and connected.  If you are thinking of bringing the flexibility, scalability and cost efficiency of the cloud into your organisation, then you need to be talking to Innovate.

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