6 Important OS Hardening Steps to Protect Your Data and End Users

Are your systems protected? Is your IT Team overwhelmed or your current IT Partner leaving your business vulnerable? According to the Duo Trusted Access Report, only 53% of Mac OS users are running either the fully patched, latest version of OS X, or the previous version, compared to 35% of Windows users on Windows 10 and 8.1. That means most of these operating systems are outdated, unpatched or unsecured – leaving your business vulnerable to compromises and extended downtime.

While proper patch management is critical to protecting business data and employee up-time, it is only one of many security considerations. Ransomware-as-a-Service continues to grow, it’s just as important, we are seeing a rise in popularity of Operating System (OS) Exploit Kits.

When attempting to compromise a device or network, malicious actors look for any way in. Many businesses are unaware that operating system vulnerabilities provide an easy access. With Clare’s NetCentral managed Services we can assure you peace of mind while helping you to safeguard sensitive information and your systems. This is not an exhaustive list of the services we include but here are six things all companies should be thinking about to assure their systems are hardened and minimize your risk of suffering a cyber-attack:

  1. Program Clean-Up – Remove any unnecessary programs. Many systems come installed with apps that never get used or updated. If the program isn’t something your business has vetted and locked down, it shouldn’t be used on your network. Without the needed attention and maintenance of these programs, attackers can utilize them as a backdoor when attempting to compromise your network.
  2. Use of Service Packs – Keep updated with the latest versions to further ensure the prevention of zero-day attacks. This easy rule can prevent a bad situation, from getting worse.
  3. Patches & Patch Management – Plan, test, implement and audit your current patch management strategy. OS patching and updates (as well as applications) should become part of your regular security regimen.
  4. Configuration Baselines – Begin base-lining the process of measuring changes in hardware, software, and networking. Start with a baseline and begin measuring its performance for a consistent period.
  5. Security Templates – Create and review basic Security policies regularly. Assure procedures can be followed and enforced.
  6. Group Policies – Define employee groups based on the needed access levels and maintain the rules. Often cyber-attacks occur through simple user error. Begin to establish, and update user policies and ensure users are aware and follow these procedures. A common example would be implementing strong passwords, securing those credentials and enforce that they change them on a regular interval.

There’s no end to how much you can protect your business environments. This list should help you to get started and on the right track. Sometimes the little changes can make the biggest difference in securing technology. As you begin returning to work, Clare Computer Support is here to help and readily available to assist if you’re concerned about the status of your technology or IT Support.

We are happy to answer any questions or address any concerns you may have. Keeping systems up to date is the first step to gaining a peace of mind. Leaving the support to us will allow you to focus on Your Business.