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9 cybersecurity best practices for a connected ecosystem

Help keep your network and digital assets safe from cybercriminals by implementing these tried and true processes and measures

A man and woman using a tablet standing next to each other

Most managers and business owners foster and depend on connected ecosystems. They want workers to be able to connect to each other and their clients whenever necessary, digital assets to be easily accessible wherever they're needed and to be able to access accurate information on everything from shipment statuses to environment conditions. It's one of the great benefits of doing business in the 21st century.

As your company's connectivity expands, it's important to remember that your cybersecurity needs will evolve alongside it. The range of devices connecting to your network will continue to grow, the connected technologies used by both you and your partners will change and you'll bring on new employees who need to be taught how to keep your digital assets safe.

We've compiled nine cybersecurity best practices to help protect your connected ecosystem. From data backups and malware protection to employee training and future planning, these basic security routines will help keep your business safe as it continues to grow.

1. Maintain your firewalls

Much like the real-world barrier after which it was named, a firewall acts as a first line of defense. It prevents communication between your network and unauthorized outside sources. Firewalls are built into many technologies, from operating systems to network servers, but it's up to you to ensure they're active and properly configured. You can do this yourself, or have an expert set them up for you.

2. Maintain anti-malware software

Another first line of defense, anti-malware software, provides protection by helping detect and prohibit anything unsafe from accessing your network. It helps check and screen everything before it enters, from email attachments to website content. Your internet service may provide similar protection, such as the DNS security that comes with Rogers Business Internet packages.

3. Maintain tight control over access and authentication

Don't provide access to your network to outsiders who don't require it. All logins should be from legitimate users with valid business, and these users should be forced to adhere to strict security standards, including regularly changing their passwords and two-factor authentication. Avoiding the potentially devastating damage of a cyberattack is worth pushing employees and guests through a few simple security hoops.

4. Verify the security standards of partners and suppliers

You may be vigilant, but what about the companies you work with? If they have access to your network, client data or any of your digital assets, you need to verify that they have processes and measures in place to keep them secure. This might begin with a friendly discussion, but it should also be written into contracts and agreements.

5. Educate your employees

The biggest risk to your company's security remains its workers. They might accidentally click on a link to an unsafe site, connect to an unsecure network, or neglect to enable two-factor authentication, any one of which can lead to disaster. Your best defense is to train them to avoid these mistakes, either through in-house presentations or cybersecurity education training seminars.

6. Consider both existing and future connected devices

While it's important to ensure the security of your current technologies, it's also prudent to consider what might be coming down the pike. If you know that you plan to eventually implement new technologies – such as IoT sensors or cloud services – you should take these into account when reviewing and upgrading your current security solutions to understand and stay ahead of potential safety issues.

7. Create a connected ecosystem that's secure by design

Rather than working backwards to secure technology you procure, design your connected ecosystem with security as a priority. Select families of technologies that are designed to interact securely with one another, and place added procurement criteria weight on those with potential to deliver a high level of protection at a lower cost, such as cloud services.

8. Back up your data

Even the most secure connected ecosystems can be breached by a talented and dedicated cybercriminal. When this happens, your best recourse to avoid downtime is to recover what you've lost. Employ at least one (and preferably more) backup system that can be called upon to get your network back up and running, your employees back to work, and your customers served as quickly as possible after a breach occurs.

9. Develop a cybersecurity policy

The best way to keep your company from slacking off its ongoing security responsibilities is to establish a set of easily referenceable rules and processes that govern everything from acquiring new technologies to onboarding new employees. Create a chief security officer role within your company, and have that person work with an expert to create a security document that will reliably guide you in cybersecurity decision making.

Developing and maintaining a secure connected ecosystem isn't a once and done task. It's an ongoing and evolving responsibility that requires some work and vigilance. However, already having the right technologies – such as Rogers Business Internet with built-in DNS security – and then following an established set of IT security best practices can make the job much more manageable. And the work required now is far preferable to the problems that a preventable security breach can cause. Remember what your parents taught you: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.