October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and 2023 marks the 20th anniversary of the commemorative event. This year’s theme is “Secure Our World,” a public service campaign created by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at the behest of the United States Congress.
With digital threats on the rise and IT complexity increasing, it’s more than just a slogan—“Secure Our World” is all about encouraging individuals and businesses to adopt better cybersecurity habits and improve online behavior.
This represents the perfect opportunity to assess the state of your company’s protection. For most businesses, that starts with a realistic assessment of today’s biggest risks: ransomware, phishing attacks, and data breaches. These tactics are increasingly common and can negatively impact any organization—big or small, in any industry, located anywhere in North America. So it’s imperative to address them first.
But comprehensive cybersecurity protection extends much further, encompassing data backup, identity management, login protections, and real-world training. What ties every element together is a proactive approach to cybersecurity. Rather than wait for bad things to happen, the best kind of IT support anticipates issues and minimizes the potential damage from them.
That proactive approach is an important part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, too. As the “Secure Our World” digital toolkit states, “When IT providers and businesses work together, a safer digital future is possible for everyone.“
Here are a few tips that CMIT Solutions recommends as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month kicks off:
• Strengthen passwords and implement multi-factor authentication (MFA). According to CISA, “Passwords should be long, random, and unique to each account,” and secure password managers should be used to generate and save them. But that one layer of security isn’t enough—MFA is an enhanced protocol that adds a second element (like a verification code or identity confirmation) to any login attempt. This ensures that, even if a password is stolen, any attempt to compromise it can be mitigated.
• Make sure software and hardware are updated and patched. Out-of-date operating systems and expired applications can lead to serious security vulnerabilities. To better protect devices, data, and digital identities, make sure you install security updates and software patches with the assistance of a trusted IT provider. They can deploy these necessary updates during off-hours to minimize disruptions and digital threats.
• Learn how to recognize and report phishing attempts. Cybersecurity training empowers your employees to serve as the first line of defense. The key message, according to CISA, is to “Think before you click.” Everyone in your organization should learn how to spot unsolicited emails, texts, or phone calls asking for sensitive information or personal details. Simulated phishing attempts can also train employees to spot questionable links before they click on them and avoid opening unknown attachments. Reporting these types of scams can also contribute to the knowledge necessary to identify and block them in the future.
• Back up your data regularly, remotely, and redundantly. No matter what threats your company faces, the best way to avoid bad outcomes from a ransomware attack or hack is with a reliable data backup. These should be executed automatically on a weekly (if not daily) basis and stored in multiple locations. In the event of an infection that encrypts or steals data, affected systems can be wiped clean and a recent backup can be used to restore data. That helps your business bounce back and return to regular day-to-day operations.
• Explore multi-layered security tools. Once the basics outlined above are in place, smart companies can work with their IT provider to consider more in-depth tools. These extra layers of defense protect against web-based attacks, block hidden bots that track keyboard activity, quarantine questionable email attachments before they land in your inbox, outline incident response protocols, and implement endpoint detection and response (EDR).
• Enlist the kind of capable, comprehensive IT support you deserve. It takes a knowledgeable, trustworthy partner to deliver all of these layers of cybersecurity protection. At CMIT Solutions, we also offer 24/7 monitoring, advanced threat intelligence, industry-specific compliance satisfaction, and trusted support for both physical and remote offices. Our independently owned IT franchises offer one-on-one interactions rooted in local communities while also leveraging a North America-wide network of more than 250 offices and 800 technicians.
We’ve spent the last 25 years building this level of trust with thousands of clients in the United States and Canada. We take pride in protecting businesses of every size, employees across every industry, and devices from every major manufacturer.Our role as an IT provider extends beyond just securing networks and systems. Instead, we’re dedicated to educating our clients about the cyber risks, digital best practices, and emerging trends in the cybersecurity realm.
Sharing that knowledge is what National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is all about. We believe that when businesses can make informed decisions in partnership with their IT provider, it fosters a security-conscious culture. That’s a focus in October for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month—but it also must extend all year long.
At CMIT Solutions, we defend our clients’ data, strengthen their systems, and empower their employees to work smarter and more efficiently, 24/7/365. We believe that such an approach allows today’s businesses to operate with confidence and security, navigating the increasingly complex cybersecurity landscape and emerging stronger and more resilient.
If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to enhance cybersecurity protections, contact CMIT Solutions today.