As a small- or medium-sized business (SMB) owner, you need to be aware of the potential risks and vulnerabilities that come with running a modern business. While you might already have some security measures in place to protect against cyberthreats, it's important to understand that there are many facets of IT security that you need to consider to fully secure your SMB.
Here are the seven crucial layers of IT security that you need to know to keep your network, data, and business safe.
The OSI model
In the late 1970s, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) developed the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model to standardize how computer systems communicate over a network.
The OSI model comprises seven layers, each with its own specific purpose and function. These layers can be thought of as the different levels that you need to secure in order to protect your IT infrastructure and business data.
This is the layer that includes all the people who have access to your network, whether they are employees, contractors, or customers. Most cyberattacks today involve the human element, so it’s important to have security measures in place that will educate and train users on how to identify and avoid potential threats. This can include measures like phishing awareness training, multifactor authentication, and password management.
Implementing strict access controls also helps to secure this layer by ensuring that only authorized users have access to sensitive data and systems.
This is the layer of your network that separates it from the rest of the internet. It comprises all the devices that control all the traffic that flows in and out of your network, and it includes your firewall, routers, and switches.
Having strong perimeter security is the key to protecting your network from external threats. This means configuring your devices correctly and keeping them up to date with the latest security patches. Implementing a robust firewall policy is also essential, as this will help to block unwanted traffic and prevent malware and other threats from entering your network.
The network layer comprises the people as well as the devices that have access to your systems, like your servers, computers, mobile devices, and other network-connected devices such as printers and scanners.
The most effective way to secure this layer is by implementing the principle of least privilege, which means giving users only the permissions and access they need to do their job, and no more. This reduces the risk of data breaches and insider threats by minimizing the potential for users to accidentally or intentionally misuse sensitive data.
Related reading: 7 Business network security essentials: Practices to keep your SMB safe
The number of devices that are connected to your network is constantly increasing, and each one of these devices is a potential entry point for hackers. This is why it’s important to have in place security measures such as antivirus, anti-malware, and access control software at the endpoint level.
To secure endpoint devices, use mobile device management software. This type of software allows you to remotely control and manage the settings and security of all the devices that are connected to your network. It also enables you to remotely wipe data from lost or stolen devices, effectively preventing sensitive information from falling into the wrong hands.
All the software applications running on your network, such as your email server, web server, and file sharing apps, are at the application layer. To reduce the risk of hackers exploiting app vulnerabilities, make sure that all the applications running on your network are up to date and patched. You should also implement application whitelisting, a mechanism that allows only approved apps to run on your network. This helps to prevent malicious software from being installed onto endpoint devices.
This is the layer where all your data is stored, including your customer data, financial records, and intellectual property. It’s essential to have robust security measures in place at the data layer, as this is where most cybercriminals launch attacks.
Encryption is one of the most effective methods for securing data, as it makes data unreadable to anyone who doesn’t have the encryption key. This means that even if hackers are able to get their hands on your data, they won’t be able to decipher it. You should also consider implementing a data loss prevention solution, which helps to detect and prevent sensitive data from being leaked.
Your mission-critical assets refers to anything your business can’t function without, such as databases, critical applications, servers, and more. Mission-critical assets vary from business to business, so it’s important to assess your SMB’s most vital technologies and information.
A well-defined incident response plan is essential for this layer, as it helps to ensure that you can quickly and effectively deal with any security breaches. You should also consider implementing redundancy measures, such as having backup servers or applications, to ensure that your business can continue to operate even if mission-critical assets are compromised.
If you need help implementing various cybersecurity measures, or if you’re not sure where to start, outsourceIT's team of experts can help. Contact us today to learn more.