14 Cyber Security Tips and Best Practices for Organizations

Cybersecurity, also known as information technology security or computer security, is the process of safeguarding networks, devices, programs and data from malicious attacks, damage and illegal access. Cybersecurity aims to prevent criminals from accessing computer data while simultaneously ensuring the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data to the proper authorities.

Cybersecurity is more critical now than at any other moment in history. This is because industries and individuals now use computer systems, the internet and wireless networks. Smart devices and the internet of things (IoT) are also growing in popularity. These technological advancements have made everyone vulnerable to cyber threats from cybercriminals. Cybersecurity, on the other hand, protects everyone from unpredictable data risks that can harm a company’s brand or force businesses to go bankrupt.

Cybersecurity Tips and Best Practices

Furthermore, cybersecurity reduces the danger of a data breach in enterprises, protects individual data and allows employees to operate in a secure environment. Cybersecurity practices imply the ability to act with a security-conscious approach.

The top 14 cyber security tips and best practices for organizations are listed below.

  1. Ensure that your software is up-to-date.
  2. Make sure your hardware is up-to-date.
  3. Anti-virus and anti-malware software should be used.
  4. Make use of a safe file-sharing service.
  5. Open questionable emails with caution.
  6. Use a VPN to make your connections more private.
  7. Choose your passwords well.
  8. Before you click on a link, double-check it.
  9. Use 2-factor authentication.
  10. Adware should be removed from your computers.

1. Ensure that Your Software is Up-to-Date

Software upgrades are critical because hackers are continually hunting for weaknesses. And one of the main reasons software companies continue to improve programs or address compatibility concerns is to ensure that users utilize the most up-to-date and bug-free version available.

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Additionally, before implementing software updates, organizations must rigorously assess the updates supplied by software manufacturers. The usefulness of the current operating system, compatibility, the security of the new version, available new features, and upgrading time and cost are all factors to consider.

Updating many computers can be time-consuming, but combining a traditional approach with automated update tools can make the task considerably easier. Businesses can update the software by teaching potential employees how to automate the process.

Businesses must prioritize software updates since the update refers to any available modification to the software product that corrects mistakes, such as maintenance-only releases, bug fixes and patch kits. Staff need training to perform upgrades, IT specialists can assist with the upgrade, and PCs can be automated to perform the update.


2. Make Sure Your Hardware is Up-to-Date

Every company should be aware that the cost of not keeping hardware up-to-date may be more than the expense of upgrading. As a result, upgrading is critical to a company’s performance. Adding additional memory can boost a computer’s ability to run more programs efficiently, which improves speed.

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Similarly, upgrading to a larger hard drive can expand the computer’s storage capacity. Users might, for example, replace a hard drive with an SSD or enhance the RAM as part of a hardware upgrade, resulting in improved performance and efficiency. It’s also possible that a hardware upgrade will be required to operate new software programs that will boost productivity.

New desktops and laptops include updated memory, network interface cards, hard disks and processors. These processors can improve the performance of operating systems and security software. Also, keep in mind that old hardware frequently prevents the latest software from running. A hardware upgrade entails adding additional hardware to improve a computer’s performance.

Users need to consider a few things when updating. However, before installing new hardware, open the computer and be careful of the dangers of ESD (electrostatic discharge). While a hardware upgrade is necessary, performing some examinations through troubleshooting is also necessary to determine whether the upgrade is required. Uninstalling any extra software, removing viruses, spyware and other malware, and defragmenting the hard drive are some of the diagnostic techniques. If the system’s performance improves following the troubleshooting, an upgrade may not be required.

RAM, graphics card, hard drive, optical CD/DVD drive and processor are all examples of hardware that may need to be updated. After determining which areas require hardware, seek the assistance of a technical specialist to help with the upgrade, as the process can be intimidating for inexperienced users with little computer hardware experience.


3. Anti-virus and Anti-malware Software Should be Used

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Anti-virus and anti-malware software programs provide data security and complete threat protection, protecting computers from viruses and malware such as ransomware, Trojan horses, phishing attacks, rootkits, spam attacks, spyware, adware and identity theft.

Many viruses have the goal of making the host system useless. A virus’s impact on a user’s computer might cause the computer to slow down, erase files, crash the system, lose data and render the system useless for performing any function.

This is important:

Businesses and individuals should download the best antivirus software available to avoid cyber threats. Anti-virus and anti-spyware software are essential for any business. Because new risks emerge regularly, businesses should download the most recent definitions from the software provider. While there is no certainty that a virus will not infect an organization, anti-virus and anti-spyware software tools can go a long way toward helping to secure business.

4. Make Use of a Safe File-Sharing Service

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Data is used and shared by everyone, including businesses and individuals. Because every internet user is subject to cyberattacks due to continuous use of the internet, every online activity requires top-tier protection. And, because businesses deal with data, a robust data protection tool must be in place. Organizations require a secure file-sharing service when a file is in transit or at rest.

Safe file-sharing means that no one except the sender and receiver has access to the data. However, encryption is the only way to attain this level of protection. This is why businesses should look for file-sharing services that offer end-to-end and zero-knowledge encryption.

Note:

End-to-end encryption means only the communicating users who have the key can read the messages. Furthermore, zero-knowledge encryption renders the decryption keys inaccessible to anyone, including the service provider. Users should also look for additional security features, such as two-factor authentication.

To have a secure file-sharing experience, enterprises should subscribe to the best cloud storage and file-sharing services. Examples of file-sharing services are Zoolz, Google Drive, IDrive and other providers. Organizations can visit the services’ respective websites to download the most recent software for any file-sharing device. IT professionals can also help businesses determine the best file-sharing service.


5. Open Questionable Emails with Caution

Opening emails with caution is one of the greatest cybersecurity practices that an organization should follow. Emails are well-known for being user-friendly and easy to use, making this communication technology famous for the widespread distribution of unwanted messages. Organizations must exercise caution since hackers and spammers use email to distribute hazardous attachments to large groups of individuals. One of the benefits of this extra caution is that taking an extra eye protects enterprises against virus downloads. Furthermore, the company will not lose data and money.

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Even if the email appears familiar, users should be suspicious of unsolicited attachments. Check the sender and try to confirm from a known address before downloading any attachments in this case. Install software patches to prevent attackers from exploiting known flaws or vulnerabilities. Even if antivirus software signals that the message is not harmful, do not open the email. Attackers continuously release new infections, and antivirus software may not have the signature.

Pro Tip:

Another approach to be extra cautious when opening emails is to save and scan any attachments first. Many email systems provide the ability to download attachments to make reading email easier automatically. Check the email settings and make sure the setting is turned off.

In this situation, knowledgeable staff can check for any flaws that allow attackers to spam the company’s email. In addition, the IT department can assist organizations in securing email activities and implementing additional security software layers. Most importantly, organizations must train all workers on cybersecurity best practices and the consequences of using company email accounts for personal purposes.


6. Use a VPN to Make Your Connections More Private

Organizations must use a VPN (virtual private network) to keep all networks private and safe. VPNs secure users’ data by encrypting the internet activity in transit. That way, hackers will be unable to track the company’s IP addresses, websites visited, passwords used or any other sensitive data.

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Furthermore, while selecting a VPN, businesses must examine a few factors to protect sensitive data. The company’s size, security, versatility, data storage and affordability are all considerations to keep in mind. Users can visit VPN providers’ websites to check the vital criteria to consider in selecting a trustworthy VPN. Ensure that any VPN meets the VPN definition before downloading.

Cybersecurity experts can assist in selecting the appropriate VPN for the organization’s needs.

7. Choose Your Passwords Well

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Strong passwords create a strong line of protection against unwanted access to a company’s computer and personal information. Hackers and harmful malware can’t access users’ computers unless there is a strong password.

Hackers routinely sell user data online, and businesses must be aware of this. Furthermore, data can comprise a plethora of consumer information and passwords. If hackers were to gain access to the password, hackers might gain access to the entire company’s systems. Hackers may exploit businesses that use the same password for all accounts.

Pro Tip:

Businesses must use passwords that are at least eight characters long and include upper and lower case letters, symbols and digits. The important features of a strong password are the length, a mix of upper and lower case letters, digits and symbols. Also, businesses need to know that no personal information, business information or dictionary words should link to passwords.

Furthermore, businesses require a password manager to protect, secure and store all of the company’s credentials. IT staff or cybersecurity professionals can aid in creating a strong password for the company.


8. Before You Click on a Link, Double-Check It

Patience could have rescued some businesses from a cyberattack if the businesses could carefully double-check a link before clicking. Hackers frequently trick people into clicking on seemingly useful links or attachments sent by cybercriminals. These links are frequently in the form of what appear to be legitimate emails, a practice known as phishing. Additionally, businesses could lose money, personal information or company data by clicking on the wrong link.

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People should be cautious because hackers could mimic a link to any online bank account, leading to a malicious website that collects users’ usernames and passwords. Users must, however, exercise caution when clicking on links. When a user encounters a link, hover over the link before clicking. Hovering over a link refers to moving the mouse pointer over the link without clicking. People can also use online scanning programs to verify the link’s legitimacy.

Individuals and corporations must exercise caution before clicking on any known or unknown link.

9. Use 2-Factor Authentication

Before enabling access to a system or application, authentication requires confirming identity by verifying the available credentials against an existing database of permitted identities. Even if criminals hack the password, two-factor authentication (2FA) protects users’ data and accounts. 2FA eliminates the dangers of having a compromised password. Businesses should also enable this setting on all passwords to add an extra layer of security.

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Organizations must understand that a strong password is insufficient and that 2FA is an additional layer of protection. Passwords are frequently exposed to unauthorized users due to negligence. If the password for 2FA is not activated, the hacker will access all of the organization’s data.

2FA is easy to set up because authentication factors include a username/password, security questions, a digital certificate, a smart card, fingerprint and facial recognition. Individual organizations can enable two-factor authentication on any service the organization uses.


10. Adware Should be Removed from Your Computers

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To avoid needless targeted advertisements, computers in the organization must be free of adware. Adware-free computers allow users to maintain privacy. Adware is a malicious software program that displays advertisements on users’ screens, intruding on users’ privacy.

People need to remember that adware might appear in various forms on different PCs. Slow browsers, annoying ads, an unexpected change in the web browser’s homepage and crashed browsers are all signs that adware exists in a system. As a result of these warning indications, users should act quickly before the adware redirects users to a malicious website.

This is important:

Organizations can avoid adware by using anti-virus and anti-malware programs, among other cybersecurity tools. Users should also avoid installing free software because most of these adware developers have partnered with an adware vendor who will continue to send advertisements to free software users.

Individuals and businesses should choose a reputable adware removal service and download the application from the service’s website. To get an updated anti-adware program or implement additional security safeguards, organizations can contact IT or cybersecurity professionals.


11. Viruses Should be Checked on External Storage Devices

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Checking for viruses on external drives used for professional purposes is one of the greatest cyber security practices for preventing threats. Virus-free external storage also safeguards companies’ data against breaches. In other words, virus-free devices ensure data and computer longevity. Checking out the equipment also provides peace of mind, as system disturbance can occasionally create tension at work.

In the process of screening an external device for viruses, organizations need to ensure that all software is up-to-date. Also, if the software has been displaying adware pop-ups and crashing, this could be a virus. Computer users also need to keep an eye on data usage. Viruses are known for sapping data disproportionately and unnecessarily. Users should also check for unknown programs, faster battery consumption, device overheating and spamming messages.

After formatting the external hard disk, backup or recover the data using data recovery software or antivirus software that is up-to-date, and scan the external storage immediately. Users can also visit a software engineer to check for viruses on external storage devices.


12. Don’t Use Public Networks

an image with person searching for free Wi-Fi on smartphone

Using a public network may appear advantageous, especially in terms of cost. Still, considering the threat that unsecured WiFi may provide, a public network is considered a no-go area for any organization that cares about cybersecurity. Public WiFi is a network that allows computers, smartphones and other devices to connect to the internet or interact wirelessly within a specific area.

Although a public network is free to access, the risks to companies may be too great to bear. Hackers can lurk between the user and the connection point, which is the primary danger to free WiFi security. Also, an unsecured WiFi connection can potentially be used by hackers to spread malware. By avoiding using public networks, a company can stay safe against unauthorized access or eavesdropping.

However, using a public network increases the danger of identity theft, including login passwords, financial information, personal data and photographs. However, there may be a hidden purpose behind the free provision; for example, hackers can occasionally follow targets’ locations or gain access to crucial information.

Another significant consideration when using a public network is utilizing a VPN application. VPNs can conceal one’s true location and prevent data leaks, even on unsecured networks.

Users should always assume that a public network is not secure and avoid exposing personal and financial information. Only use encrypted websites to log in or submit personal information. Don’t leave accounts signed in all the time, especially on public systems. Also, as a preventive measure, change the device’s settings to avoid connecting to adjacent WiFi automatically.

In this case, individual organizations need to take responsibility and avoid connecting to public networks.


13. Important Data Should be Backed Up

Backup copies allow business data to be restored quickly after an unanticipated occurrence. Multiple copies of data provide the assurance and flexibility of restoring to a point in time where data damage or malicious attacks have not occurred. However, storing a copy of the data on a secondary medium can help prevent primary data loss or corruption. This additional backup mechanism could include an external drive or USB stick, or even a disk storage system, cloud storage container or tape drive.

an image with person trying to back up data on PC

Organizations need to understand the importance of saving and backing up data. However, there are several aspects to consider to achieve success. Users must select the appropriate backup medium to avoid losing the files in the backup process. Also, users should check the available space on the hard disk and check the backup device’s functionality.

Some ways to back up data are through auditing and making periodic backups from time to time. Organizations and people are advised to prioritize the security of the data that’s being backed up. Data is a company’s most valuable asset; however, the data must be protected and secured to the highest level possible. Also, companies should employ cloud storage as an option for a secured backup. This storage ensures that users can recover data even after a data breach by hackers.

Pro Tip:

To ensure cloud storage, users can download some online backup services. Organizations can also require the assistance of backup specialists, IT specialists or cybersecurity experts to help with data backups.

14. Engage the Services of a “White Hat” Hacker

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White hackers, also known as ethical hackers, are individuals who conduct security audits as part of a contract. These experts look for weaknesses in an organization’s security and help remedy the vulnerabilities. White hat hackers have traditionally provided penetration testing (also known as pentesting) services. Using real attack techniques to proactively find vulnerabilities is the best and only way to fully determine the effectiveness of security defenses.

Organizations seek the assistance of white hat hackers to identify security flaws. This white hat hacker makes certain that every loophole is well-protected. With cyber threats on the rise, businesses must take all necessary precautions to avoid threats that could jeopardize the firm’s reputation.

However, when hiring a white hacker, the board of directors should be in charge of the process. Before hiring a white hacker, consider the ethical hacker’s reputation, previous work experience and the communities to which they participate, as corporations may be recruiting a spy who may later exploit the company’s data.


How Cyber Security Best Practices can Help You Increase Your Organizational Security

The proper, long-term security level in workplace communication and data management processes is known as organizational security. These security controls aim to set the managerial, technological and structural precautions that an organization will use to protect sensitive data from unauthorized access, exposure and alteration.

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The relevance of organizational security stems from the fact that taking adequate precautions reduces the company’s liability, insurance, compensation and other security expenses. On the other hand, security measures lower the operating costs that businesses must bear.

Most importantly, organizational security safeguards private information from cyberattacks, guarantees business operations and provides comfort to all partners involved.

Having well-cultured cybersecurity procedures is one method to make security effortless in the organization. There can be a joint effort to combat cyber risks if every team member knows about the procedures and practices involved in corporate security.

Who Should Use These Cyber Security Tips?

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Every member of a team in any organization has a role to play in the organization’s security. Organizations should explicitly state cyber security tips for employees. High-level executives in most organizations are in charge of top data, which is critical to corporate operations. Below the executive level, every employee should receive cybersecurity training and guidance, be on guard for potential threats, and consciously practice good security habits.

Aside from that, each team member must follow the applicable cyber security tips for the workplace. Organizations should play a critical role in ensuring a secure digital workplace for employees by highlighting the importance of cybersecurity, which reduces the risk of harassment while improving overall performance and productivity.

There are also cyber security tips for seniors that serve to raise awareness among an organization’s older population of employees.

Isa Oyekunle Isa is a seasoned writer and a cybersecurity expert with about 7 years of experience under his belt. He has worked with a number of prominent cybersecurity websites worldwide, where he has produced hundreds of authoritative articles regarding the broad subject of internet security. He’s always been enthusiastic about digital security, and now, he’s committed to enlightening people around the world about it.
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