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Understanding the Spectrum of Cyber Security – From Hardware to Software

Developing stronger cyber security strategies feels more urgent than ever before. Businesses face a growing tide of diverse cyber threats. They’ve witnessed a near-constant stream of noteworthy incidents, such as the British Library ransomware attack that compromised employee data or the data breach that affected RCMP and Canadian Armed Forces employees. Now, they worry about whether they can keep their operations running smoothly. 

In the face of these challenges, it’s crucial to shift from anxiety to action. Raising awareness about cyber security best practices is not just a one-day event, but a continuous commitment that we recommend you embrace year-round.

How can you do that? By building a robust security setup, step-by-step! That involves addressing your security comprehensively via multiple lines of defense. Our technology is a mix of virtual and physical elements. A resilient cyber security approach considers all of it simultaneously, intersecting layers of protection to address vulnerability.

Below, you will learn about the various aspects of a holistic cyber security approach. In particular, we explore how you can combine hardware and software security measures for better data protection.


The Role of Hardware in Cyber Security

Software-based security solutions can often be more appealing since businesses can implement them quickly with more immediate tangible benefits. Addressing hardware security can take more time and resources. As a result, organizations often end up using devices with outdated firmware or relying on obsolete hard drives that can’t support a modern cloud-based infrastructure. 

Unfortunately, unprotected hardware can expand our potential attack surface online and lead to data loss caused by device theft or damage. A hardware-focused cyber security strategy will address those specific threats. In addition, hardware solutions can help businesses strengthen their protection in ways that software alone can’t accomplish.

Strengthening Access Control

Since our physical devices are more challenging for bad actors to exploit without physical access, concepts like passwordless authentication are becoming more popular. Companies frequently rely more on biometrics to determine access to their data, such as scanning for face IDs or fingerprints. In other cases, they can use tactics like hardware-based security tokens, a form of device-based multi-factor authentication where a user needs physical hardware to access a particular area of a business’s digital infrastructure. Microsoft partner Fortinet even offers integrated hardware solutions that build protection mechanisms directly into network infrastructure and endpoint devices. Hardware security modules, which store cryptographic keys on a physical device, are an example.

Providing physical security

Your hardware’s real-world security is also critical to maintaining your entire tech environment, both online and offline. For example, you need strong policies and processes around physical access control, ensuring you store your equipment in ways that deter unauthorized access. 

Whether you use your devices in-office or remotely, ensuring their security receives equal priority is crucial as part of your comprehensive approach to safeguarding your tech environment.

Your offline backup systems are also a helpful form of hardware security. When organizations store copies of their critical data offline, they are better prepared to deal with cyber threats like ransomware attacks or damage due to employee error and natural disasters.

Want to learn more about the specific role that devices can play in protecting your data? Explore these device-centered Zero Trust security measures.


Software’s Place in the Security Ecosystem

While hardware-based solutions can create practical barriers to your data, businesses should also adopt various software tools to help them subvert different stages of a cyber attack chain

Tackling Cyber Threats

At the bare minimum, installing antivirus software will address one of the most common threats businesses encounter when operating online. Viruses are malicious software (or malware) that infect and compromise computer systems, programs, and documents. Antivirus software works to detect and prevent these attacks through real-time scanning. 

However, some viruses may manage to sneak through your defense system. Depending on your tool, you may need to install separate malware remover software to respond to and eliminate the threat.  Software tools such as DNS filtering will also automatically prevent your team from accessing malicious websites where certain viruses originate. 

To combat more complicated types of malware and attacks, such as spyware, ransomware, or zero-day exploits, you may also need to implement more comprehensive anti-malware or endpoint detection and response (EDR) software that can handle newer and unknown threats.

Building a Proactive Defense

Those software solutions target cyber security risk by looking outward at incoming traffic. Businesses can also implement software that creates internal layers of data protection and contains threats within your network.

Encryption goes directly to the source of what’s most at risk: your data! This software allows you to mask your information throughout its entire lifecycle – both when it’s stored and while being transmitted for active use. Encryption transforms the data into an unreadable format for the human eye, so it will remain confidential even if bad actors infiltrate your system. Authorized users can use a cryptographic key to unlock it.

Businesses can also strengthen their internal defense when they regularly update and run security patches on their software. Not only does this help your software perform more optimally with fewer bugs and glitches, but it also helps eliminate weaknesses that hackers can exploit to enter your network. 


Enforcing Network Security by Combining Hardware and Software Solutions

The evolution of network security, from firewalls to the concept of the cyber security mesh, shows how combining hardware and software solutions is critical for a strong defense. 

Firewalls are essential for defending your organization’s network against various cyber threats. They can keep your data intact and available as your gatekeeper to filter out malicious content and prevent bad actors from infiltrating your network. 

With software firewalls, you install a program on individual devices to block traffic you previously determined unacceptable. Hardware firewalls enforce your access policies similarly, except they are physical devices that you can configure to inspect all traffic across all devices on the network. While software firewalls are more customizable and cost-effective, hardware firewalls work on their operating system, which a computer hack won’t affect.

However, both firewall types only work to protect your network from external threats, creating a defense perimeter around either all devices on a network or individually. 

Organizations can leverage a cyber security mesh, or cyber security mesh architecture (CSMA) to provide more comprehensive protection that addresses both external and internal threats.

A cyber security mesh is an approach to cyber security that lets businesses use a centralized location to distribute security to their entire infrastructure, both on-premises and on the cloud. Various tools collaborate as one interoperable unit to identify and contain threats by creating individual perimeters around each device, identity, and endpoint. These tools can include a firewall, but also others like intrusion detection and prevention (IDP), security information and event management (SIEM), and identity and access management (IAM) systems.

With the various components of a cyber security mesh, organizations can combine hardware and software security into one distributed and adaptive security model that integrates physical and digital elements.


Future-Proof Your Security Strategy with PC Corp

From biometric authentication and security tokens to antivirus software and firewalls, businesses have many options to strengthen their cyber security posture. However, as cyber threats evolve, so do the most effective strategies to counter them. 

That’s why National Computer Security Day advocates for people and businesses to avoid taking a static approach to cyber security. Instead, we must constantly stay vigilant and informed about emerging threats and changing industry best practices to be ready to respond.

When you choose PC Corp for managed IT services, you’ll receive a tailored mix of hardware and software solutions designed to leverage the entire security spectrum for your data protection. Our role is to offload the work of managing your network monitoring, updates and patches, data backups, and more so that you can focus on what you do best.

Contact us today to discuss how our team can blend cutting-edge hardware and software solutions for a more resilient IT infrastructure.

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