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8 IT initiatives to include in your plans this spring

Posted: 25 April 2018

8 IT security initiatives to include in your plans budgets this spring

The new year has come and gone. Now that your company’s budget is on track, it’s time to start cleaning house (or your network) with IT initiatives that will protect your business from a malware attack and organize your data.

If you have never put together a plan for your IT admin, we have some ideas for you to get started. And with GFI Software's recent launch of GFI Unlimited, their Netflix-like software subscription method, it’s even easier to get all of the solutions you need to keep your network safe. So here are some IT initiatives to include in your spring clean up:

1. Patch Management

Ransomware attacks continue to rise and cause even more damage. Last year, WannaCry infiltrated thousands of organizations causing the number of attacks to jump significantly. Within the first six months of 2017, ransomware cases jumped up 30 percent. Many businesses could have been protected if they kept their patches up to date.

[You may also be interested to read "Ransomware Survival Guide: 10 Point Action Plan"]

Unfortunately, due to the lack of IT personnel or updating the network is not on some business’ priority list, patching is left until the last minute. This year, create a patch management plan that will bring your systems up to date.

2. Cloud Solutions or Managed Services

Several small to medium businesses have made their move to the cloud. Cloud services have the highest average of new spend across organizations last year.  In 2014, the CIA made a $600 million purchase with AWS, displaying that they are investing their interest in moving classified data into the cloud.

As more tech companies offer solutions in the cloud like Salesforce’s CRM or Adobe’s Creative Suite, businesses will more likely jump on the bandwagon. Cloud services have topped the list of initiatives, with an average of 48% of participants investing in 2016, and 47% investing in 2017.

Managed services are a saving grace for smaller companies who cannot afford the upkeep of an internal server at their business. Keeping the software up to date and data safe is part of the fees included in a cloud-based service. Weighing the costs and benefits of a managed service will be up to the business owner. However, the cloud is not going away anytime soon.

3. Multi-factor Authentication

Passwords are weak. Hackers have an easy time figuring out your pet’s name and anniversary date. Regardless of how many times you teach your employees the importance of a strong passphrase, they want something easy to remember. Single factor authentication in this case, is not enough.

A remedy to this problem is multi-factor authentication. Signs of this type of security feature have already shown themselves in bank logins and other websites with sensitive data. but many services such as Gmail, Facebook and Twitter are offering this service even though it’s not a must. The most common type of multi-factored authentication is triggered to send a text message to the user’s phone after a password is entered. However, there are different types such as biometrics or a third party authentication like Google Authenticator. It’s about time you implement two-factor authentication to access your critical systems.

[You may also be interested to read "3 Reasons why Biometrics are not Secure"]

4. Protecting your Email

Spam continues to clutter our inboxes. The problem is some of your employees do not have good tech know how so they are likely to open an email with a catchy subject line. According to Symantec’s monthly report, in July 2017 spam reached its all-time high by accounting for 55% of all emails that were sent.

This summer, if you have not protected your business yet, this is your chance. Find a software like GFI MailEssentials that will provide the spam protection your business needs. One great thing about GFI MailEssentials is that it stops spam from getting to your employee’s inbox so they do not mistakenly open up a malicious infection that could ruin your network.

[You may be interested to download a free trial of GFI MailEssentials]

5. Web Monitoring

Your employees do many other things at their desks other than work. These things include streaming videos, going on their favorite social network to check the latest food post, job hunting, and so much more. According to ComPsych, nearly 60 percent of employees admitted to checking social media at work at least one to five times a day.

Whether social media is allowed under your company’s policy or not, an employee surfing the web can become a severe problem for your business. Streaming videos and downloading movies through P2P sites can affect your network, causing programs essential to daily operations, to slow down.

Also, an employee going to sketchy websites can lead to them clicking on something that will bring malicious files onto your network. This spring, implement some sort of monitoring system, like GFI WebMonitor, that will keep your bandwidth in check and malware at bay. And if you want greater control of your bandwidth, with Exinda Network Orchestrator you can prioritize programs that are important to your company like Salesforce or Quickbooks.

6. Encryption

Regulations such as HIPAA or GDPR may ask for personal data to be encrypted to keep it away from the wrong hands. Encryption can relate to several different tasks such as email communication, laptop hard drives, USB storage, data at rest, network connections between clients and servers and more. Add this extra step of security of encrypting your data to keep personal information safe.

7. User Provisioning

If your IT admin still experiences a few delays when onboarding a new employee, it’s time to look at their processes. When HR hires a new employee, they need to get set up with email, a computer, and additional access. By now, you should have a process in place that streamlines bringing a new hire onboard. The same goes for those who are no longer with the company.

8. BYOD or MDM

More companies are allowing their employees to bring their own devices to work. Along with no longer having to provide phones or laptops, there’s a responsibility to keep the network safe. If your organization wants to create an MDM (mobile device management) solution or BYOD (bring your own device) policy, now is the time to figure out the best way to go about implementing new processes into your business. For more information on how to create a BYOD policy, check out this whitepaper for a step to step guide.

There is always room for improvement, especially in the IT department. Technology is continually changing, and there are still new threats out on the internet that could cripple your network. Take the time this summer to reduce potential headaches from unwanted malware. Also, get your network to run smoother and more efficiently. By simplifying your processes, you’ll have peace of mind. You will also have more time to deal with employees and their daily IT troubles.

(This blog post originally appeared on TechTalk by GFI Software)

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Valerie Rivera Content Editor, GFI Software
Posted by Valerie Rivera
Content Editor, GFI Software
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