Spring CleaningAs an IT administrator for OpenDNS, I rarely have a quiet day. Case-in-point: five new employees started this morning, which meant provisioning five new laptops, phones and email accounts, along with dozens of other activities. But, as often as we can, our team makes a point to invest time in projects that will result in time saved down the road. Here are Five ways to improve your security now, that will save you from cleaning up malware, losing data, compromising business, or wasting time later on agonizing projects.

  1. Deactivate unused accounts. Unused accounts with network access can be used to get access to sensitive data or to create other admin accounts that can do the same. It’s a good idea to keep your active user list up to date, and it takes a small amount of time to preform an audit.
  2. Revisit your password policy. We all know weak passwords are an easy exploit for criminals. Be sure your policy includes an automatic reset period and strict character requirements. SANS has some good advice for making sure your policy is rock solid, but you may also want to consider a login proxy like 1-Password or OKTA. Hint: A service like OKTA can also help you manage the myriad cloud services your users are already adopting in droves.
  3. Audit public-facing websites for security flaws, or look for a service that can do it for you. Look for vulnerabilities where hackers could use SQL injections and XSS (cross-site scripting), and any login info, telephone numbers, or e-mails that should not have been published. It’s surprisingly common how often this can happen, even to reputable sites. Your compromised site can get blocked by services like ours, and your company could be at risk of losing valuable website traffic and potential business. Or even worse, you could infect your own clients, which will damage your reputation. The Web Application Security Consortium has a list of suggested tools that can help you do the job.
  4. Start evaluating that cloud solution you’ve been interested in. One great feature of cloud solutions is that you can almost always start a trial without any friction. It’s a vast improvement from the days of week-long software deployments, or worse, betting on a new hardware solution without the opportunity to trial it. If it’s time for you to look at updating your mail server to something more secure and effective, or address the BYOD problem that’s been haunting you, spending a few minutes now to set up a trial now will pay off ten-fold in the end.
  5. Be sure you can restore your backups. Even the IT admin that’s diligent about backing up data can get in hot water if it turns out that backed up data can’t actually be restored after a crash.  Taking a few minutes to test your restoration process now will save you (or your colleagues) hours of hard work later.

In such a rapidly changing environment like IT, merely going along to get along does not cut it. And when you’re stuck or something gets too large to handle on your own, help is out there. It’s better to be proactive about these issues now than pay dearly for them later.

What are some of the projects you’re working on to help save you time or stress down the road?

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