A Practical Guide to IT Security

It can take a lot of resources and effort to keep your IT infrastructure safe. IT security is a complex process that covers multiple fronts these days, and it’s important to take a proactive approach to it.

Your business should always be reaching for the top security solutions the market has to offer. Consulting with IT experts and specialists is always the way to go when starting an IT security plan. It is also crucial to understand that the most expensive IT security solution isn’t always the best one. You must adapt your search to your specific circumstances and fully comprehend the requirements of your company.

Understand the Threats Your Business Faces

To determine what kind of security setup would be adequate for your business, you must first understand the threats that you face on a regular basis. This requires you to take a deep look at all processes involved in your operations, and everything else they interact with.

Pay special attention to any action concerning data. This includes both customer data as well as the information of your employees. You should do your best to ensure that those processes are as isolated as possible, and that they don’t interact with any other parts of the system unnecessarily.

Once you have a good overview of your current situation, you can start thinking about security solutions to integrate into your workflow. Overall, if you spend time understanding your requirements it will allow you to direct your search much more effectively and establish robust protection.

Cyber Essentials – Is It Worth the Investment?

The Cyber Essentials program aims to cover the five pillars of information security. Following the program and obtaining a certificate can go a long way towards improving your IT security knowledge. Ultimately, it can help your organisation understand the fundamental processes and improve its practices very quickly.

To give you an idea of what is covered, here are the five pillars of the Cyber Essentials program:


Cyber Essentials teaches the benefits of a good firewall, and how to set one up correctly. This will be just one step in the overall security setup of your company, but it plays an important role in the grand scheme of things. Other details from the course can be quite useful in figuring out how your information is flowing as well.

Software configuration

All the programs you use daily require some basic setup in order to get the most out of them. Sometimes it’s not just about convenience, but security. Improper configurations are one of the most attractive targets for attackers looking for an easy way in. This also includes software updates. Many companies are behind on their update practices, leaving their systems vulnerable with multiple points open for attack. You should also change default settings like passwords and other security-related configurations.

Access controls

It is recommended for any business to set up a detailed access control system as well. This usually involves some sort of account and authentication setup. This allows you to verify the credentials of anyone interacting with your network. You should take the time to ensure that everyone you’re giving access can only see the things that are directly relevant to their work. It will likely take some time to set this up properly, especially in a larger organisation with a lot of employees. But in the grand scheme of things, this is one of the most important steps you can take.

Malware protection

Keeping your company safe from viruses is also important – that’s why you’re going to need a good malware protection suite. Today, there are lots of options available on the market, and they all have their advantages and disadvantages. This is one of the most critical decisions you’ll make with regards to the security setup of your business. So, it’s a good idea to spend some time exploring different anti-malware and virus solutions.

Software updates

Always pay attention to software updates. As we mentioned above, falling behind on updates is a common problem for many organisations. And considering how severe the consequences of forgetting, it’s important to set up a system for keeping track of this from the very beginning. If the decision is left in the hands of employees, most of them will just skip those updates for as long as they can. This is obviously not an ideal situation if you’re trying to keep your company safe and protected. Therefore, it’s a good idea to invest in a solution that manages your software updates automatically and with minimal user intervention.

Keep Your Data Protected Locally

You should always be wary of people trying to access devices that they shouldn’t. And unfortunately, physical access is the ultimate aim of any attacker trying to extract information from your business. This makes it crucial to protect your important devices in every way possible.

You should do your best to ensure that devices remain separate, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their regular operation. You should also consider splitting up your network. If you don’t, you may be allowing many connections that shouldn’t really be allowed in the first place.

Think about network connectivity in general. Not everything needs to be online to get the job done. Some processes that work with data in batches can run perfectly fine offline. And when that data is valuable, it’s a good idea to keep them separated from any network connection as much as you can.

Offsite storage

The same applies to devices being used outside of the office. You must have adequate security practices in place specific to remote working and in cases of taking company equipment home. Many attacks are targeted at home workers, and due to the Covid-19 pandemic this trend has been growing over recent years.  So, you should never allow any unsecured devices to connect to your company’s network without a good reason.

There’s a good saying about data – if it doesn’t exist in at least two separate physical locations simultaneously, it’s not properly backed up. It can take some time to develop adequate security practices for offsite storage, but it can have beneficial results.

Do everything in your power to keep offsite data secure. Use encryption and other protection tools to restrict access and prevent hackers from breaching important information. Take advantage of remote security tools and features. For example, many IT management suites offer remote wiping functionality. If a device on your network gets compromised, you can utilise the tool to quickly erase its contents and prevent it from connecting to any nodes.

Keep Your Cloud Data Safe

Nowadays, you’re probably using various cloud solutions for data storage. Many businesses are taking great advantage of the cloud market and are actively integrating these products into their work. And while it can offer a great alternative to physical data storage, it also exposes you to potential security risk.

Protecting your data in the cloud is trickier than data you control locally, because typically you’ll need to coordinate everything with the cloud provider. Unfortunately, this may not always be possible, resulting in some issues remaining unaddressed.

Always know exactly what kind of data you’re storing in the cloud, and which devices have access to it. Some devices have backups enabled by default, allowing them to sync their data with cloud services without any user interaction. However, when you forget to disable those features, they can create various risks for your organisation.

Use Regular Backups

The importance of a backup system cannot be overstated. Losing all your data can destroy your business, and even when it doesn’t do that, it still forces you to spend months recovering from the issue. You may also be in violation of certain regulations if you allow your data to be lost. It’s important to ensure that you have a robust backup solution, and to revise and update it regularly.

There are some key points to consider about maintaining secure backup practices for your business. First, keep your backups separate from your main network. Having them accessible 24/7 may seem like a convenient setup for you and your people. But it also exposes your devices to attacks from ransomware that might make the data unusable. Secondly, as we’ve mentioned, always ensure that you have at least one offsite backup for every important dataset you’re storing. Ideally you should have multiple. So, never limit yourself to just one backup, or worse – one that’s stored in your main office. With a limited backup system like that, you’re only incident away from a major disaster which could cost you the entire business.

The Importance of Staff Training

Even if you have the best software solutions, a strong security system also requires an educated workforce. You should provide all your employees with regular cybersecurity awareness training, so everyone has the same knowledge of security safety procedures. The main objective of such training is to ensure employees can understand and identify any potential security threats such as phishing emails. Cybersecurity awareness training is often taught through an online course.

Do your best to encourage your employees to follow appropriate security practices. Reward people who’ve shown good discipline in this regard and maintain your own up-to-date knowledge of IT security practices. This will help set a good example for your organisation to follow. Always keep yourself aware of recent security threats which may be specific to your business’ industry. Also, pay attention to major trends on the horizon. Sometimes it’s nothing to worry about, but in other cases, you’ll be glad that you were prepared in advance.

Stay Alert for Issues

Implement automated infrastructure monitoring systems

Finding out that an attack is underway means that you’re too late. You need to be proactive in keeping your systems safe, and this requires constant vigilance. Of course, it can be difficult, and sometimes impossible to manually keep track of a large IT infrastructure. That’s why you need to invest in solutions which can survey it and alert you if anything seems out of the ordinary.

However, simply having those systems in place is not enough. You must also pay attention to their output and take swift action when something seems wrong. Many businesses fall for the trap of setting something up once and then forgetting about it. Or worse, they may ignore its alerts, thinking that it’s a false positive. If you’re going to go through the trouble of deploying active monitoring systems, you should pay attention to what they are reporting. Otherwise, you may be better off without installing them.

Moreover, run regular vulnerability checks on your systems to see if you’ve missed something. New vulnerabilities appear all the time, and it can be difficult to keep track of all of them yourself. Even security experts are challenged by this task. That’s why you should rely on automated tools to do the hard work for you. But similarly, you must pay attention to what those systems are reporting instead of just letting them run on their own.

Understand and Revise Your Policies

If you have a system of well-written security policies in place, this can relieve a lot of stress when something goes wrong. Instead of scrambling to find a solution and losing productivity, you’ll just have to follow a list of steps until you’ve resolved the situation. And the more time you spend preparing that list, the better it can serve you when it is needed.

Start with a major revision of your current systems and assets. You should evaluate what systems are responsible for which parts of your data and organise its storage accordingly. Then, assess the risk of each component of your infrastructure. Some parts will be more vulnerable than others, and some may be responsible for storing sensitive data that you can’t afford to leak. Finally, assess each component of your network with regards to the risk it introduces in your overall setup, and take measures accordingly.

Don’t Store Data You Don’t Need

Data hoarding is a problem, and not just for individuals obsessed with media, but for companies as well. With the great capabilities we have in data storage today, it’s easy to say, “why should we delete that?” or, “just keep it in case we need it later”. Sadly, these are problematic approaches to data storage. Your business should take the time to evaluate how much of your data it needs to retain. Then, take steps to ensure that anything that doesn’t fall into this category is properly purged when the time comes.

Deletion should be done in a very specific way. You must have detailed policies in place for things like data destruction and retention. This will ensure that anyone working with sensitive data follows the process precisely. Failing to observe proper deletion policies may mean that you’re stuck with data you didn’t even know you had. This doesn’t seem like an issue at first, but it can lead to hackers extracting and exploiting business, employee, or client data. After all, what are the chances you’re paying attention to this data if you don’t know it exists in the first place?

Keep Your IT Contractor(s) in Check

If you’re like most companies on the market, you likely outsource a great deal of your IT services. Sometimes you might handle everything externally. And while that’s a great way to optimise your expenses while bringing some advanced expertise to the table, it’s also something that requires a lot of caution. You must make sure that you’re working with the best IT contractors on the market from the very beginning. And even then, it’s important to keep their work in check. Even if you’re impressed with their services at first, you can’t let your guard down.

If there is an opportunity for it, try arranging for a visit to the offices of your IT contractor. This should give you a good idea of how serious they are about their work, and what their internal organisation looks like. Sometimes it might not be possible for various reasons, including privacy. Don’t let that discourage you as some companies are simply more protective of their assets and trade secrets than others. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have something unpleasant to hide.

But, if you’re working with an IT contractor for your company’s infrastructure, you must make sure that they are professionally led. IT service providers come in all shapes and sizes so ensure they can serve your business’ needs. If appropriate, take the time to hold regular meetings, and ask them for progress updates on active tasks. And if something goes wrong, they should always be available and keep you up to date about new developments on the problem’s resolution.

If in Doubt, Speak to an Expert

Implementing robust security solutions will at some point require external IT support. Therefore, we don’t expect you to have all the knowledge of an IT specialist or carry out all these tasks alone. Particularly for small to medium sized London businesses, we encourage you to reach out to an experienced service provider for support.

Choosing a managed IT service package can give you the IT security solutions and daily support all in one. Your service provider can equip your employees with cybersecurity training, perform hardware audits, install necessary software, and improve the overall efficiency of your infrastructure.

Still seeking outsourced IT support? Reach out to the award-winning totality services team for cutting edge security solutions. Or if you’d simply like to find out more about how to improve your business’ security practices, contact us today!