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IT Spring Cleaning Tasks to Identify and Remediate Security Vulnerabilities

There’s nothing quite like stepping outside in the early days of spring. However, the good feelings of the season can easily be overtaken by anxiety and dread if your organization has to deal with a cybersecurity breach. Security-related incidents have increased in both regularity and impact over the years, with 2020 representing a new extreme. The average cost of a data breach in 2020 was $3.86 million, according to a new study from IBM and the Ponemon Institute. The report also found that it takes over 280 days to notice and contain a breach. Breaches that occur as a result of lax cybersecurity can also leave you vulnerable to litigation, especially if you work with consumer data.

Making sure you’ve checked all of your boxes is especially important after a year where business processes were turned on their head by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, more than a year after the pandemic began, many organizations are formalizing their work from home arrangements. If your remote cybersecurity protocols were put together hastily and intended as a temporary measure, now is the time to go back and make the necessary adjustments. At the very least, it’s important to perform all of the regular cybersecurity tasks you’ve been putting off.

Here are some basic steps to take to limit vulnerabilities across the board:

Perform the updates you’ve been putting off

While the downtime may be inconvenient, regular software updates are an essential part of any good cybersecurity program. Not only do updates improve the functionality of your organization’s applications, but they also include security patches that inundate your network from potential threats. Of course, if workers are remote, your IT department’s visibility may be more limited. A program like Faronics Deploy, which allows IT professionals to install, uninstall and update applications across remote workstations, can help bridge the gap. 

Educate employees on phishing

While updates and using proper cybersecurity software is essential, far too often, an organization’s weakest point will actually be its people. Human error is a major cause of data breaches — an issue that has only increased during the pandemic. According to research from ESET and Myers-Briggs, expanded employee autonomy and added stress has led to a significant uptick in cybersecurity attacks linked to human error. Phishing scams are one of the most common methods used to take advantage of these lapses in judgment.

One of the key ways to clamp down on these threats is through education. Make sure employees are familiar with the signs of a phishing email or call and that a system is in place for flagging these communications with IT. Importantly, employees should never share passwords, and they should look at both the sender’s address and the style of writing. 

Change passwords and install multi-factor authentication

Sometimes, the most basic cybersecurity measures are also the most effective. To keep your data safe, it’s important to regularly change passwords across your organization’s different accounts. That way, even if hackers are able to steal some of your important information the impact will be limited.

Another important step is adding multi-factor authentication whenever possible. Multi-factor authentication means that users must provide multiple forms of identification to access a program, increasing the chances that anyone viewing your data has the correct credentials.

Perform hard drive backups

One of the easiest ways to prevent down time if a cyberattack occurs is through regular data backups. In addition to keeping productivity steady after a malware attack, a backup can also inundate your organization from human error, like an employee accidentally deleting important data. While some applications automatically backup after a set period of time, others will need to be handled manually. This may be challenging, however, if remote employees are using legacy software on their devices.

While consistent backups are always important, it’s especially true if you’re planning on using a reboot-to-restore solution to combat malware. In this case, an infected workstation could be shut down and would reset to a prior point. All data added after this point would be deleted and would have to be retrieved from the backup.

Install a reboot-to-restore solution

One of the easiest ways to prevent the spread of malware that you’ve detected is with a reboot-to-restore solution. These programs, like Faronics Deep Freeze, allow you to freeze your endpoints to the desired state and restore from unexpected changes with a simple reboot. Users can instantly restart their device to your IT team’s default configuration, removing any unwanted software or third-party changes. This technology can be deployed on remote workstations with just the click of a button.

Remove unneeded applications

In addition to updating all of your important applications, take a hard look at what software is no longer being used. As business processes and job demands change, some of the software you’ve invested in may be redundant. Even if they’re not in use, these programs could still provide an entry point for hackers, especially if you’ve fallen behind on updates. This is especially true in the case of legacy software that lives on your workstations. If your organization is working remotely, there’s a greater chance that you’re using cloud-based solutions, which makes a house cleaning easier.

As a part of your application inventory, be sure to update the list of approved applications on your reboot-to-restore software. One of the key benefits of reboot-to-restore is that it makes it easy to pair down the number of applications your system supports.

Whatever your organization’s cybersecurity needs, Faronics offers a creative solution. To learn more, explore our products online or sign up for a free trial today.

About The Author

Matt Williams

A self-proclaimed ‘tech geek’, Matt has worked in technology for a decade and divides his time between blogging and working in IT. A huge New York Giants fan, expert on Reboot Restore Technology when not watching football Matt gets his game on playing Call of Duty with his friends and other tech bloggers.

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