10 Essential Network Security Best Practices
While security teams have been battling a landscape of constantly evolving external attacks for years, insider threats can be just as damaging, if not more so. Most organisations will face some sort of breach, whether it comes from external threat actors or insider threats. To make sure you’re prepared, you must take a layered approach with your organisation’s security.
Here are ten cybersecurity best practices to develop a comprehensive network security management strategy.
1. Implement a Formal Information Security Governance Approach
Establishing and maintaining an information security framework is a great place to start. This framework is more important than every shiny tool in your security stack, and it should align your assurance strategies and support the business. When selecting one of these methods, ensure your programme provides the ability to employ a risk-based approach and enables your teams to detect incidents, investigate effectively and respond quickly.
2. Stop Data Loss
Most enterprises rely on employee trust, but that won’t stop data from leaving the company. The truth is, some users steal data. A recent survey of more than 1,500 security professionals found that 43% consider data exfiltration from an endpoint their top security concern. To reduce leakage, it is critical to control access, monitor vendors, contractors and employees, and know what your users are doing with company data.
3. Detect Insider Threat
It’s true that employees are your biggest assets. But they can also be your biggest risk. That's why you need technological defences. Tools that monitor user activity can help you detect unauthorised behaviour and verify that users are not violating security policy. Insider threats that go undetected can turn into costly insider breaches.
4. Back Up Data
Backing up your files may seem like common sense. But any organisation that has been hit with ransomware such as Petya or Wannacry will tell you just how important this best practice is. It is crucial for organisations to have a full working backup of all of data. That's true not only from a basic security hygiene prospective, but also as a tool to combat emerging attacks.
5. Beware of Social Engineering
The technology and IT security policies you implement neither replace common sense nor eliminate human error. Social engineering tactics have been used successfully for decades to gain login information and access to encrypted files. Attempts may come from phone, email and other communications with your users. The best defence is to…
6. Educate and Train Your Users
No matter how gifted they are, your users will always be your weakest link when it comes to information security. But you can limit that risk by regularly educating them about cybersecurity best practices. At a minimum, training should include how to:
- Recognise a phishing email
- Create and maintain strong passwords
- Avoid dangerous applications
- Ensure valuable information is not taken out of the company
Chose a training solution that doesn't put your people to sleep or go in one ear and out the other. Instead, train your people on proper cyber security hygiene in a way that emphasises just how important it is. Finding creative techniques to make the training stick will go a long way.
7. Outline Clear Use Policies for New Employees and Third Parties
To strengthen and clarify the education for cybersecurity best practices you give your users when you first hire them, you should clearly outline the requirements and expectations your company has for to IT security. Make sure employment contracts and SLAs have sections that clearly define these security requirements
8. Update Software and Systems
With cyber criminals constantly inventing new techniques and looking for new vulnerabilities, an optimised cyber defence is optimised for only so long. To keep your network protected, make sure your software and hardware security is up to date and can fend off the latest threats.
9. Create an Incident Response Playbook
No matter how well you follow these best practices, you still may get breached. Nearly half of organisations suffered a security incident in the past year. If you are hit, having a response plan laid out ahead of time will allow you to close any vulnerabilities, limit the damage of a breach and remediate effectively.
10. Maintain Compliance
These best practices are useful first steps for keeping your business safe, Other guidelines, including some tailored to your industry, may also be useful. Regulations such as HIPAA, PCI DSS and ISO offer standards for how your business should conduct its security. Don't treat these rules as a mere hassle that you need to prepare audit logs for. Compliance guidelines can provide real business benefits, too.
These are just a few of the cybersecurity best practices and strategies that we think are most important. Above all, remember that today's threats target people, not just technology. By protecting your "people perimeter," you're protecting your organisation.
Learn more about Proofpoint Insider Threat Management and how it can help you detect insider threats, streamline the investigation process and stop data exfiltration.