In an attempt to fight back against hackers, companies are employing more cyber security efforts now than ever before. Of course, this means that to counter the cyber security, hackers are evolving in their techniques. It’s not enough to just have a firewall or just have antivirus software anymore – you need a multi-layered security plan to ensure that your data remains safe from predators.
The Swiss Cheese Model
Often used in aviation, engineering, and healthcare, the Swiss Cheese model is also a great visualization technique to understand the importance of using several layered security elements. Let’s say that your antivirus software is one slice of Swiss cheese and your anti-malware software is another slice of Swiss cheese. On their own, they have holes in them, through which a hacker or malicious software might be able to pass through.
If you put the pieces of cheese one in front of the other, however, the opportunity becomes much smaller. You may be able to get through the hole on the first slice of cheese but then get stopped on the next because there is no hole. In order to completely get through, the hacker or software has to adapt to each challenge and find the hole. The idea of a multi-layered security plan is to have multiple different “slices” of security cheese. While it’s still possible for the breaches to occur, the chances are significantly lowered. Of course, some of these have a bit of overlap, which means that continuing to stack different security products on top of one another becomes redundant after a certain time.
Starting With Multi-Layered Security
There are many components that go into making a security system successful, and different companies have their own way of doing things in regards to what they protect and how they protect it. At NIC, we believe that there three major layered security elements: physical, digital, and operational, and we encourage taking steps in all three to maximize your security.
The first layer of defense, physical security, is probably the one that varies most widely. That’s because the amount of effort and money you want to invest in physical security is going to depend entirely on the size of your company and the data that you work with. If you’re a major company that deals with sensitive information, it’s highly recommended that you hire a physical security team to oversee your servers and electronics. This usually means cameras and a 24/7 guard that will monitor the grounds and ensure that nobody attempts to break in and access your system physically.
For many companies, a security guard might be overkill, especially if you don’t have large server rooms that are more vulnerable to attack. However, physical security doesn’t only mean guards. Other simple measures like locks and gates around equipment are an affordable way to physically protect your equipment. Also, if you have company laptops or tablets, it is essential to keep records of them and ensure that nothing goes missing.
This is the technical aspect of a multi-layered security plan. The reality is that most hackers will not be physically present when they attempt to break into your systems, which means you have no warning at all. They could attack using a variety of different methods at any time, which means you need to be prepared with the right tools all the time. Thankfully, protective software is mostly self-automated, which means you don’t have to be sitting, staring at the screen for hours on end waiting for an attack that may never come.
Let’s start with some of the more common tools that you’ve probably heard of: antivirus and anti-malware software. Malware includes viruses, trojans, adware, worms, and other types of malicious software intended to harm you or cause annoyance. Anti-malware software will typically scan for viruses (among other things), meaning that you don’t need both anti-malware and antivirus. However, not all antivirus programs will scan for other types of malware, so it’s important to choose the right program for the job.
Other Types of Digital Security
Three more layered security elements used to digitally protect your data are encryption, password tools, and the cloud. Encrypted data is scrambled and made unreadable without the use of the key, which is typically a password or a digital file. This means that even if hackers are able to get their hands on your information, they won’t be able to access any of it without the key, which can be protected.
Speaking of protecting passwords, we highly recommend using password authentication tools. This means that when you log in to your accounts, you’ll be sent a code either via text, email, or phone call that is unique to that situation only. This prevents anyone from logging into your account even when they have your password. Finally, a great way to protect your information is by employing a cloud network to safely store it away in a remote location in case your physical servers are compromised.
The third component of a multi-layered security plan is operational security. This means training your team to avoid security threats that they may encounter while surfing the web or reading emails. Opening questionable attachments from email addresses you don’t recognize, downloading files from a site that isn’t reputable, or revealing sensitive information to phishers are all very common ways to cause serious breaches and security risks. In fact, according to a Forbes study, there were nearly 30,000 dangerous websites discovered every day in 2013. NIC has extensive experience in data security and offers comprehensive answers to all your operational security questions.
As you can probably tell, network security is a complicated and ever-changing problem with many layered security elements that need to be considered. If you’re not familiar with network security and safety practices, your firm’s data could be at-risk for being stolen. Thankfully, expert advice is only a few clicks away with NIC. If you’re serious about protecting your information and the information of your clients, schedule a free consultation today or give us a call at 1 (877) 721-3330.