Fort Lauderdale IT Security – How Businesses Can Manage Overall Risk
The year 2020 was a clean break from tradition. Besides a global health crisis, a sudden surge in cyberattacks shook businesses to their core. According to CNBC, data breaches increased by 273% in the first quarter of 2020.
It’s easy to see why this was the case. With an increasing number of organizations adopting the work-from-home model, cybercriminals had a larger surface area to push their agenda and collect the spoils of victory.
Unfortunately, the worst is far from over. As the digital landscape continues to expand, hackers are coming up with new and improved modes of attack. If cybersecurity isn’t ranking high on your list of priorities right now, you and your consumers may be targeted next.
Before we delve into why IT security is important, let’s explore what it implies.
What is IT Security?
IT security/cybersecurity is an umbrella term referring to practices that protect your IT infrastructure and electronic data from digital risks. Simply put, its main objective is to safeguard your systems, networks, and technologies against unauthorized exploitation.
A few categories of cybersecurity include:
- Network Security
- Application Security
- Information Security
- Operational Security
- Cloud Security
- Endpoint Protection
- Mobile Device Management
Why Do You Need IT Security in Fort Lauderdale?
When it comes to technology, Fort Lauderdale has a lot working in its favor. Greater Fort Lauderdale sits at the heart of South Florida, which has remained on the frontlines of tech innovation for decades. Also, the city lies about thirty miles north of Miami, widely recognized as a sprawling tech hub.
With an increasing number of new IT companies setting up shop in Greater Fort Lauderdale, the city’s tech scope is set to grow in leaps and bounds.
But new technology perpetuates old crimes. Hackers use advanced tech to sharpen their claws, essentially developing far more sophisticated weapons to devastate your business. That is until you ramp up your IT security posture.
Here are a few reasons why you should seek Fort Lauderdale IT security.
Cybercrime Affects Everyone
Perhaps you see yourself as an unlikely target for cybercrime, wondering what a hacker can steal from you. The answer is simple: DATA.
Cybercriminals infiltrate your systems to steal sensitive data, including (but not limited to) customer credit card numbers and personal information. This data is then sold to the highest bidder and even on the dark web.
For example, in June 2020, an allegedly stolen Wattpad database containing 270 million customer records was auctioned off in a private sale for over $100,000. The information, which included names, usernames, email/IP addresses, genders, locations, birth dates, and passwords, was eventually published on a public hacking forum.
A business hit by a cyberattack is a sinking ship: it takes everyone down with it. This is why you need an IT security plan to protect yourself and your client base from a debilitating data breach.
Cybersecurity Can Save Expenses
Many people shy away from implementing a cybersecurity plan due to the expenses it involves. But IT security incidents are costlier.
A cybersecurity incident, such as a Denial of Service (DoS) attack, can bring your entire business to a standstill. Needless to say, this is bound to cost you a significant amount of revenue. According to IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach report, lost business accounts for nearly 40% of data breach expenses.
A few other damaging aftereffects of a network breach include:
- A blow to your reputation.
- Potential lawsuits from affected customers.
- Loss of business intelligence
While you can always refill your coffers, it’s harder to overcome reputational damage. Hence, it’s in your best interest to team up with a Fort Lauderdale IT security firm to fortify your tech network from all sides.
IT Security is Crucial to Business Expansion
You probably have expansion strategies planned for the future. Once your business starts growing, you will be collecting larger volumes of data from new consumers, employees, and vendors. This is sure to draw hackers’ attention, leaving you even more exposed to a network security breach.
A flourishing business needs proactive IT security management, ideally from a managed service provider (MSP). Most MSPs use advanced cybersecurity tools to patch security gaps in enterprise-grade IT infrastructure. Additionally, they keep an eye out for any threats lurking in the distance, resolving them before they can strike.
Five Hacks to Strengthening Your Cybersecurity Posture
Generally speaking, it is not a matter of ‘if’ your SMB will fall prey to cybercrime, but ‘when’. But instead of waiting for the other shoe to drop, you can take active measures to adequately protect yourself from an impending attack. Let’s take a look at five ways in which you can improve your cybersecurity, either yourself or with the help of a Fort Lauderdale IT security company.
1. Conduct a Risk Assessment
There’s little point in warding off cyberattacks that won’t have any material impact on your enterprise. This may take you away from addressing threats that can effectively bring your IT Support company to its knees.
Instead of grasping in the dark for a cybersecurity strategy, start with an IT security risk assessment. This will enable you to identify weak spots and set up appropriate defenses.
To run a risk assessment:
- List your information assets.
- Next, classify them according to their importance and sensitivity.
- Identify the most potent threats to your network. Usually, small businesses are targeted by phishing scams, malware, ransomware, and insider threats, among other things.
- Locate gaps in your systems/processes that can act as a gateway for hackers. Keep an eye out for faulty security controls, such as outdated software and unrestricted access.
- Once you understand your weaknesses, determine the likelihood of an incident that may exploit them. For example, if you’re not doing much to secure a core business application, there are higher chances of it being attacked.
- Prioritize the IT security risks you find. Doing this will let you know which problems need immediate fixing and which ones can wait a while.
2. Update Your Enterprise-Grade Antivirus Software
Few people like seeing the antivirus update notification pop up on their screen. However, antivirus updates usually include new features to tackle common virus progressions. Plus, they are more efficient.
First thing’s first: ensure you have the latest antivirus technology. Dig deep to find antivirus software that suits your business’s type and size. Or, in case you have too much on your plate, you can ring an expert network consultant for help.
Once the software is up and running, make it a point to update it regularly. Failing to do so will render the program ineffective and leave you vulnerable to a potential cyberattack.
3. Encourage Healthy Password Habits
Most people do not take password protection seriously. As per a recent report, the most common passwords of 2020 included:
While ‘123456’ is convenient to remember, it’s also incredibly easy to crack. Unless you want to hand over your data on a silver platter, you’ll have to put in a little more effort.
Your employees may be unsure how to secure their passwords. Consider establishing the following best practices to help them.
- Use a long string of nonsense phrases with random words, letters, and symbols. Try not to use characters that are next to each other on the keyboard.
- Make the password as long as possible to thwart brute-force attacks.
- Implement a password manager that’ll generate strong passwords on your behalf and store them in an encrypted location.
- Don’t use obvious personal information in your passwords, such as birthdays, anniversaries, and pets’ names, among other things. They only make your password easier to guess. However, you can use this information to answer security questions when setting up an online account.
4. Consider Multifactor Authentication
Passwords provide a primary line of defense against unwelcome intrusions. But given how cybercriminals have more than 15 billion stolen credentials to choose from, run-of-the-mill letter and number sequences are not going to cut it anymore. You will need an added layer of protection.
Enter multi-factor authentication (MFA). In this technique, you need to present a minimum of two factors that confirm your identity. The first is typically your username and password. The second may be something you have (cellphone, ID cards, USB) or concrete personal information (fingerprints or any other biometric data.) This will make it difficult for the average criminal to break into your systems.
5. Train Your Employees
This is probably the most important thing you can do for your IT security posture. Most often, employees don’t think much about how they could be leaving the door open for criminals to creep in. This is not a good sign.
Ransomware and phishing scams, two of the most dangerous cyberattacks against SMBs, use human error to their advantage. So, in case an employee fails to recognize a phishing email, your entire organization will be at risk.
The same applies to internal errors, accidental losses, and privilege misuse.
There’s only so much you can do with technology. At some point, you will have to sit your staff down and educate them on the basics of IT security.
Staff awareness training will not only reduce the risk of human error but also enhance response times for when a breach occurs. Once the employees know what a malware attack looks like, they’ll be better prepared to report it. Taking immediate action will help remedy the problem before it snowballs out of control.
Cybercrime isn’t going away anytime soon, but streamlined cybersecurity protocols can save you a world of heartache and stress. And, in case you don’t know much about securing a network, you can always hire an MSP specializing in cybersecurity to do the hard work for you.
Do you want to learn why IT security matters for your business and how you can improve it? Reach out to us and we’ll find it out together!
John Boden is a Managing Partner at QuestingHound, Inc., a Deerfield Beach IT support company that has been helping small businesses in South Florida stop focusing on IT and getting back to doing business the past 18 years. He promotes a culture that is dedicated to the highest standard of ethics, hard work, and outstanding customer service. Connect with John on LinkedIn.