(Manually) configuring and managing an IT environment always includes:

- Time-consuming work with low added value to your organization (such as resetting passwords)

- Potential for human error

- A burden of excessive maintenance

Given the increasing number of potential threats to your organizational resources, it is essential to properly protect the data and the way it is processed. This applies to software, hardware, and employee training/awareness.

Software

To better protect your organization, and the resources within, employees should only have access to the data and applications they need to do their job. This method of thinking is known as the Principle of Least Privilege (PoLP). This principle is the simplest way to effectively protect customer and organizational data.

An Identity and Access Management software solution (IAM) guarantees simple, standardized, and sensitive management of user accounts and access rights in your network. By combining IAM alongside with practicing the PoLP, you can truly begin to protect the data and resources within your organization.

Below are three tips for providing easy and secure access to your data and applications:

  1. Don't rely on just a single password—additional user identity verification is important. Incorporating some version of multifactor authentication (MFA) ensures that even if a username and password are compromised, your network remains secure. Many MFA methods incorporate smartphones, which often have their own security features (e.g., password, biometric) for an even further layer of protection.
  2. The IP white list can be used as additional protection. Connections can only be allowed via certain IP addresses, which means that you can restrict access to data and applications from computers located outside the office.
  3. Employee behavior can be monitored, with uncharacteristic activity recognized. As an example, if a person on a weekday work schedule attempts to log in over the weekend, access can be blocked or require more stringent verification.

Different software methods give your organization flexibility in how you control and secure access to data and applications. With the solutions mentioned, you can instantly increase the security of your IT environment.

Equipment

The right hardware also helps protect your organization’s data and applications. Some multifactor authentication (MFA) methods make use of physical hardware tokens (e.g., YubiKey).

The second level of verification requires the token to be plugged into the device. Alternatively, the token may display a changing pin code. Since smartphones are difficult to carry or use in some professions or applications, such as healthcare, the physical hardware token offers the same result via a more-suited method.

Training

In addition to software and hardware, user training plays an extremely critical role in protecting your organization’s data and applications. Cybercriminals often target the user directly: for example, they create phishing emails that are barely distinguishable from real emails. Unfortunately, many data breaches can be attributed to our own employees.

As such, employee cybersecurity awareness training is essential. It starts with simple recommendations: tips such as "keep the password secret", "lock the computer when leaving the room" or "do not insert unknown USB keys" are foundational. If an email looks odd and requests sensitive or financial information, call the sender to verify its accuracy before responding. In addition, you should not leave the laptop or Bluetooth-enabled devices in your car, because the signals can be located.

Increase Access Security Today

Organizations may be under the impression that enhancing security comes with a hefty price tag and a long, drawn-out implementation process, but that’s not always the case. Some security measures, such as MFA and user training mentioned above, can be carried out today or quickly incorporated into existing processes. With a little research and planning, you can be on your way to a more protected environment today—and at minimal cost!