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Mastering Cyber Hygiene: Best Practices for Software, Data and Account Inventory Management



Building on our post, “The Essential Role of Cyber Hygiene for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses,” we want to take a deeper dive into how to improve your cyber hygiene. As a brief refresher, cyber hygiene is the practice of maintaining the health and security of digital assets, and it is crucial for protecting against cyber threats. There is no better place to start than understanding where you currently are. In this article, we will explore the best practices for software, data, and account inventory management, as well as tips and tools for mastering cyber hygiene.


Introduction to Cyber Hygiene

Cyber hygiene is a set of practices and processes designed to ensure the security and reliability of digital assets. It includes the management of software, data, and accounts, as well as the implementation of security controls and protocols to protect against cyber threats. Cyber hygiene is critical for businesses of all size, especially in today's digital landscape where cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated and frequent. The Center for Internet Security (CIS) provides a list of Critical Security Controls (Controls) that may seem like a daunting list of to-dos; however, they are practical steps that may already (hopefully) be implemented in your IT environment. Implementation Group 1 (IG1) is considered basic cyber hygiene and is the minimum level of cybersecurity preparedness every business should strive to achieve.


Importance of Cyber Hygiene for Businesses

Cyberattacks can have devastating consequences for businesses, including financial loss, damage to reputation, and loss of sensitive data. Cyber hygiene is essential for preventing these types of attacks and mitigating their impact. By implementing best practices for software, data, and account inventory management, businesses can reduce their risk of cyber threats and ensure the security and reliability of their digital assets. The World Economic Forum recently released an article that touted the benefits of improving a business’ cybersecurity posture. In fact, they found improving a company’s cybersecurity posture decreased the likelihood of cyber incident exposure by nearly 90%. The caveat being, it is hard to improve your cybersecurity posture when you don’t know what it is that you are securing.


CIS Implementation Group 1 Controls

CIS has developed a set of 20 critical security controls that businesses can implement to improve their cybersecurity posture. These controls are divided into three implementation groups, with IG1 consisting of the most basic and essential controls. Some of the key IG1 controls for cyber hygiene include:

  • Inventory and control of hardware assets

  • Inventory and control of software assets

  • Inventory and control of accounts

Implementing these controls can help businesses establish a strong foundation for cyber hygiene and reduce their risk of cyber threats.


IT Asset Inventory Management Best Practices

IT asset inventory management involves the tracking and management of hardware assets such as servers, routers, and laptops. Some best practices for IT asset inventory management include:

  • Conduct regular audits of hardware assets to ensure accuracy and completeness

  • Track the location and status of hardware assets to ensure they are secure and operational

  • Implement controls to prevent unauthorized access to hardware assets

  • Develop a plan for retiring and disposing of hardware assets in a secure manner

By implementing these best practices, businesses can improve the security and reliability of their hardware assets and reduce the risk of cyber threats.


Software Inventory Management Best Practices

Software inventory management involves the tracking and management of software assets such as operating systems, applications, and utilities. Some best practices for software inventory management include:

  • Conduct regular audits of software assets to ensure accuracy and completeness

  • Track the version and patch status of software assets to ensure they are up-to-date and secure

  • Implement controls to prevent the installation of unauthorized software

  • Develop a plan for retiring and replacing outdated software

By implementing these best practices, businesses can improve the security and reliability of their software assets and reduce the risk of cyber threats.



Data Inventory Management Best Practices

Data inventory management involves the tracking and management of data assets such as documents, databases, and backups. Some best practices for data inventory management include:

  • Classify data assets according to their sensitivity and confidentiality

  • Implement access controls to ensure that data is only accessible to authorized users

  • Monitor data access and usage to detect and prevent unauthorized access

  • Develop a plan for backing up and restoring data in the event of a cyber incident

By implementing these best practices, businesses can improve the security and confidentiality of their data assets and reduce the risk of data breaches.


Account Inventory Management Best Practices

Account inventory management involves the tracking and management of user accounts and privileges. Some best practices for account inventory management include:

  • Implement strong password policies and two-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized access

  • Monitor account activity to detect and prevent suspicious behavior

  • Remove inactive accounts and privileges to reduce the attack surface

  • Conduct regular audits of account privileges to ensure accuracy and completeness

By implementing these best practices, businesses can improve the security and integrity of their user accounts and reduce the risk of cyber threats.


Cyber Hygiene Tips for Businesses

In addition to implementing best practices for software, data, and account inventory management, businesses can take other steps to improve their cyber hygiene. As we progress in our articles, we will go further in depth in these crucial components to a functioning cybersecurity program and their roles towards achieving good cyber hygiene. Some of those components for businesses include:


  • Educate employees on the importance of cyber hygiene and how to identify and report suspicious activity

  • Conduct regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing to identify and address security weaknesses

  • Stay up-to-date on the latest cybersecurity threats and trends

  • Develop an incident response plan to ensure a quick and effective response to cyber incidents

  • By following the tips provided in our articles, businesses can improve their cyber hygiene and reduce their risk of cyber threats.


Conclusion and Next Steps towards Cyber Hygiene Mastery

Mastering cyber hygiene is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort and attention. By implementing best practices for software, data, and account inventory management to improve their cybersecurity posture, businesses can reduce their risk of cyber threats and ensure the security and reliability of their digital assets. It is important to remember that cyber hygiene is just the minimum level of cybersecurity a business should strive for. By following the tips and leveraging the tools and services outlined in this article, businesses can improve their cyber hygiene and reduce their risk of cyber incidents.


Quantum Vigilance can help your business on its cybersecurity journey from meeting cyber hygiene standards and beyond. We can tailor a cybersecurity program that matches your cyber risk profile and meets your specific needs. Our QvCISO’s™ are always ready to provide cybersecurity guidance you will understand. Contact us now to get started.

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