9 Cybersecurity Best Practices for Businesses in 2024

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Protect your organization from cyber threats and attacks with these 9 best practices.

[Featured image] A member of the IT staff wears black glasses and a white sweater and checks the security of servers with their laptop.

Employees who work at a company, from executives to IT staff to the marketing team, must do their part to protect the business and its data from cybersecurity threats and attacks. There are steps that leaders and employees can take to ensure the organization is protected from a potential loss of reputation, resources, and revenue.

In this article, we’ll briefly take you through why cybersecurity is important, as well as nine cybersecurity best practices for safeguarding data in your business.

What is cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is the process of protecting an organization or individual’s computer systems, networks, and programs from cyberattacks. A cyberattack aims to access, change, or destroy sensitive information, including money, from a business or organization. Software or systems might have financial information, medical records, or other confidential data that are susceptible to theft or corruption. 

Read more: What Is Cybersecurity? Definition + Industry Guide

Why is cybersecurity important?

Cybersecurity is important for safeguarding all types of data from theft, loss, and corruption. Whether it is confidential health records, personal information, or trade secrets, businesses, governments, and other types of organizations need to protect their data.

Just like humans or animals are more exposed to danger when they are vulnerable, software programs or hardware with weak or flawed systems may not be protected from cyberattacks. Hackers can gain access to weak systems and steal information, leading to fraudulent activity. Cybersecurity is increasingly needed, as hackers are becoming more efficient and the number of devices increases. 

For those working in government, there are extra layers of security needed. Government employees in the US and many other countries worldwide must pass security clearance in order to qualify for certain jobs. Overall, both private and public sectors have the same need to protect important data.

9 cybersecurity best practices to know

Let's discuss some best practices for organizations to consider as part of their cybersecurity strategy. These nine steps can help eliminate vulnerabilities from systems and networks.

1. Implement a robust cybersecurity strategy.

It may be helpful to conduct a cybersecurity audit on your business to assess your current situation. What security measures are in place? Are all employees aware of potential security risks and threats, and how to protect against them? Are all of the company’s networks and data protected with several layers of security?

Now, it’s time to develop a people-centric cybersecurity strategy. It needs to be robust, meaning it protects all types of data but especially sensitive and proprietary information. The strategy should also be people-centric, meaning the strategy considers its employees and end users and acts in ways that are beneficial to them and their well-being.

New to cybersecurity?

Want to upgrade your company’s cybersecurity strategy? Interested in cybersecurity and in search of some quick answers? Take a peek at our cybersecurity glossary and FAQs.


2. Update and enforce security policies.

Businesses need to continually update security policies as different departments and functions adopt new technology, tools, and ways of dealing with data. Security policies are crucial to have—they must be updated regularly and employees need to be trained to comply with each policy update. 

A best practice for enforcing security policies is zero-trust architecture, which is a strategic approach to cybersecurity that continuously validates at every stage of a digital interaction with data. Examples of this include multi-factor authentication and computer settings that require users to enter their password whenever they’re away for 10 minutes.

3. Install security updates and backup data. 

Most organizations accumulate huge amounts of data on customers and users. This requires businesses to be strategic about backing up their data—and how those backups are managed. Employees should be trained to update their software whenever an upgraded version is available, which usually means the program added new features, fixed bugs, or improved security.

What is an ethical hacker?

Ethical hacking is when a trained cybersecurity professional has an organization’s permission and approval to test their system and network security by hacking into them. Ethical hackers are hired to use cybercriminal techniques and strategies to identify weaknesses, with the aim of reinforcing the organization’s protection from security breaches.


4. Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.

Regular internet users might be familiar with password requirements such as using uppercase and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers to create a strong password. Company systems and tools tend to have similar requirements. Some organizations might even provide complicated passwords to users to ensure maximum security. 

Another common practice these days is to use multi-factor authentication, where you’ll need to verify your identity on two different devices (usually your phone and computer) to decrease the likelihood of fraudulent activity.

5. Collaborate with the IT department to prevent attacks. 

Business leaders can benefit from working with their IT department and support staff to manage cyberattacks. They can also prevent these risks and threats from happening in the first place. What those preventative measures look like will vary depending on the organization’s size, industry, and other factors. This might involve working with a cybersecurity consultant alongside your IT team to determine strategies like whether to use cloud technologies, which types of security measures to take, and how to best roll out a plan for employees and end users.

6. Conduct regular cybersecurity audits.

In addition to collaborating with the IT team, it is wise to conduct regular cybersecurity audits. A cybersecurity audit establishes criteria that organizations and employees can use to check they are consistently defending against risks, especially as cybersecurity risks grow more sophisticated.

Audits should be conducted at least once a year, though experts recommend that businesses dealing with personal information and big data should audit twice a year at minimum [1]. Cybersecurity auditing helps businesses keep up with compliance and legal requirements. Auditors might encourage an organization to simplify and streamline their tools and processes, which contribute to greater defense against cyberattacks.

High-earning careers in preventing cyberattacks

If you’re interested in cybersecurity, take a look at these two roles. A security architect delivers an organization’s security strategy, manages security improvement projects and budgets, and performs regular threat analyses. The average base salary for a security architect is $128,474 [2]. Cybersecurity consultants evaluate security issues, assess risk, and implement solutions to defend against threats and attacks to computer systems and networks. They earn an average base salary of $84,621 [3]. 


7. Control access to sensitive information.

In every organization, the IT team is responsible for managing who gets access to information, and that includes controlling access to security passwords, highly classified information, and more. At times, only a handful of people can be entrusted with the company’s financial data and trade secrets. Most employees are granted the fewest access rights possible, and sometimes given access only upon request or during specific circumstances.

8. Monitor third-party users and applications.

Third-party users with access to your organization’s systems and applications have the ability to steal your data, whether or not it is intentional. Either way, they can cause cybersecurity breaches. By monitoring user activity, taking care to restrict access to sensitive information, and providing one-time passwords, you can detect malicious activity and prevent breaches from occurring. 

9. Embrace IT training and education.

Finally, all of these cybersecurity best practices are meant for businesses to implement—but much of it relies on employees to make sure they’re creating strong passwords and upholding all security policies. Cybersecurity and IT training should be provided when employees receive onboarding at the start of their journey with your organization.

Ongoing education, IT support, and security updates should be ingrained in their workflow to continue to ensure cybersecurity measures are taken. Companies should raise awareness to employees that they are complying with cybersecurity practices, explain why they’re important, and provide clear guidelines on what’s expected of them.

Learn cybersecurity with Microsoft

If you’re interested in starting a career in cybersecurity, consider the Microsoft Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate on Coursera. This program is designed ​​to help individuals with no previous experience prepare for their first job in cybersecurity, all at their own pace.  

Article sources


AT&T. “How often should security audits be?, https://cybersecurity.att.com/blogs/security-essentials/how-often-should-security-audits-be.” Accessed June 21, 2023.

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