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This week is the final week of National Cyber Security Awareness Month and it’s all about protecting critical infrastructure from cyber threats.“Critical Infrastructure” doesn’t necessarily mean the same thing for everyone. For example, on the NCSAM website this week they are talking about protecting our nation’s critical infrastructure, like our traffic lights, phone lines, water systems, and all of the other things that keep our country up and running every day. We don’t work with those things everyday, we work with Austin-based businesses, so our definition of critical infrastructure is a little different. When we talk about protecting critical infrastructure we are talking about your network and your other IT infrastructure that keeps your business online.

Your Network

Your network is what keeps you connected to the outside world and to your customers. Ensuring this is running and safe from hackers is vital. There are 3 major parts to managing your network and keeping it safe:

Network and Server Monitoring

Monitoring is so important. For those who work with an outside MSP, there’s a pretty good chance they have monitoring set up on your network so just in case something happens, they can fix it right away. And if you’re not working with an MSP, your internal IT staff should similarly have a system set up to constantly monitor your network. Knowing immediately when there’s a problem is often the difference between a quick fix of a small issue and a major problem that impacts the bottom line.

Network and Server Patching

Just like software updates to your computers (we will talk about those later), updates to your network and servers are just as important. One of the most common ways that networks are compromised is via vulnerabilities in out-of-date software, and that’s where patching comes in. Taking care of this before someone takes advantage of these vulnerabilities is extremely important.

Data Protection

This is what it’s all about. Your data is one of the most important parts of your business, you need to ensure it’s being backed up regularly. Should something happen, whether it’s a genuine disaster like fire or flood or just someone accidentally clicking “delete”, your data shouldn’t be left to chance.

Network monitoring should also include the monitoring of all your backups to ensure that the backups are successful. All of this goes together to make sure that your network and data are secure, and to ensure that it’s up and running at all times.

Your Hardware

Now that your network is taken care of, it’s time to worry about all of the devices on your network.

There are a few things that go into this as well:

Update, Update, Update

I told you we’d talk about it later! I’m not going to go into a lot of depth here (but if that’s something you want take a look at our post about why Updates are Important) but updates to your laptops, PC’s, tablets, and phones are all extremely important. These updates not only keep your hardware running as they should, but just like with network and server patches, these updates also keep your systems safe from security vulnerabilities.

Keep Your Hardware Current

It shouldn’t be a surprise, but using a 20 year old server is bound to cause some issues. Some businesses treat keeping their IT hardware up-to-date as a painful expense rather than an investment, and we understand why. But the fact is that everything wears out, and periodic investment is necessary not just to protect against downtime but also to make sure you’re getting the best performance and using the latest technology. Check out this article from Rackspace if you want to know more about the Risks and Hidden Dangers of Outdated Technology.

Mobile Device Management

We have a blog post that goes into a lot more detail about why Mobile Device Management (MDM) is important for your company, but to put it simply, it’s necessary to keep your hardware, data, and network secure.

In this age when corporate data usually ends up on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, MDM allows you to:

  • Verify that employees are updating their devices
  • Give employees secure access to data while they are away from the office
  • Give the company the ability to wipe the device of all company information should the device be lost or stolen
  • Ensure that these devices are encrypted and that employees are using passwords that comply with the company’s security policies.

All of these are important pieces to the overall puzzle or protecting your hardware from cyber threats, especially as hackers get smarter and continue to change their tactics and practices for getting into your systems.
If you are interested in learning more about what your company can do to protect your critical infrastructure, give us a call!