For businesses, investing in cybersecurity is a must to maintain a strong brand. Threats are often indiscriminate. Attacks don’t target companies because they are perceived to be successful, and there’s a good hoard to steal. Even new and small companies become the subject of the assaults. Of note, small businesses were the victims of around 4 out of 10 of cyberattacks, according to the Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report.
Cross-site scripting, SQL injection, eavesdropping, man-in-the-middle, ransomware, and other attacks are on the rise. Add to these the more aggressive cases of phishing and social engineering. It’s important to be aware of these threats and to be ready with the right prevention tools or systems.
It would be preferable if you have access to user and entity behavior analytics (UEBA) solutions to make it easy to identify dubious activities and plug the vulnerabilities. However, there are things you can do put up a decent defense against cyber threats. It’s possible to fend off even the latest forms of cyber threats by adopting simple but essential measures discussed below.
Arguably, the most important cybersecurity measure any company must implement is to provide security education and training. Making everyone in the organization well-versed with the threats (and the appropriate solutions to counter them) reduces the chances of falling prey to attacks significantly.
People are regarded as the biggest security vulnerability in organizations. Unlike software that generally perform as they are configured, humans are prone to trickery. In particular, employees who have no inkling what a cyberattack looks like tend to facilitate the penetration. There are also those who are deceived into turning off precautionary measures. Classic examples of which are gullible employees who click on ads about winning the lottery or software that supposedly addresses the slow performance of their computers. After clicking these ads, they unwittingly end up installing malware into their system.
Formal or organized cybersecurity training sessions are preferable, but it’s also possible to send out modules or DIY learning kits. What’s important is to inform everyone about the security threats that perpetually hound businesses. A test/evaluation or attack simulation may then be conducted to determine if everybody understands the things they need to know.
Many pundits claim that firewalls are no longer necessary as they don’t have meaningful capabilities in stopping attacks. This opinion is limited to traditional firewalls, though. The new generation of firewalls do more than port and socket filtering. They integrate VPN functions as well as the ability to act as HTTPS inspection proxies. They can also block DDoS attacks, execute intrusion detection/prevention, filter URLs, block upper layer attacks, and do inline patching.
Not all firewalls are the same, so you need to scrutinize your options carefully. Examine the features available and evaluate their reliability. Make sure you are getting a firewall that does more than perimeter-based defense something that has both client-side and network protection. Look for those that provide URL and attachment filtering, patch discovery, and DDoS protection.
Data and Service Access Limits
Not everyone in an organization should be allowed access to all data and services. It’s essential to implement restrictions based on clearance levels. This is not to promote distrust but to prevent accidental or unwitting actions that can compromise the security of a business. As mentioned, people are the biggest security weakness in organizations. It’s a reality that is difficult to change even with rigorous training and constant reminders. You can use data tools like ETL Robot or even create your own integration services to extract data to organize your data so that it’s easier to access large amounts of data.
Access to critical information and the ability to implement changes in the network and operating systems should be limited to the higher-ups. Designated employees with proven cybersecurity mindfulness may also be granted access for the sake of efficiency. Strict access protocols may be counterproductive, so it’s not a bad idea to have compromises.
The Use of Strong Passwords and Regular Password Changes
Passwords are vital in maintaining user accounts and regulating access to privileged data and services. It should be compulsory for everyone to use strong passwords. Nobody should be allowed to use common words, names, or repetitive characters just because they are easy to remember.
If employees have difficulties remembering passwords, they can come up with a code or mnemonic. For example, for their email account, they can convert the name of the email service into numbers or characters (example: 1 for A, 2 for B, etc.) and append to it an anagram of their favorite word and a string of numbers and symbols they can easily remember. If that seems too complicated, or your employees don’t want to bother, you can just use a free password vault, and not worry about your passwords ever again.
Strong passwords are a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols or other characters. They should also be case sensitive and should have at least one uppercase and one lowercase letter. Nobody should be allowed to use passwords that only consist of letters or numbers. As much as possible, the passwords should be generated by the users themselves so they can remember it without the need to store it somewhere. Also, different accounts should have different passwords.
Moreover, it is advisable to regularly change passwords. Even the strongest passwords can be compromised by carelessness. You may have used the password in a device that had a keylogger in it. Somebody may have managed to sniff your login credentials as you used a public Wi-Fi connection. To be safe, passwords need to be changed periodically and when there are suspicions of a breach.
In addition to using strong passwords, it is also recommended to use multi-factor authentication (MFA). For the uninitiated, this means the use of another “factor” before an account login can proceed. For example, after entering the username and password, a login code (sent to the user’s email or phone) may be required. It could also be a fingerprint or facial recognition scan.
This is one of the most effective ways to prevent unwanted access to accounts. It applies not only to online accounts, but also to internal systems for accessing data and services. It would be extremely difficult for even the most skilled hackers to simulate the additional factor needed in an MFA or 2FA-secured login.
Lastly, it’s vital to always update the software used in an organization. Updates are not only for the addition of new features. In most cases, what they provide are security fixes or patches. Software developers release them to address recently discovered security issues or vulnerabilities.
Operating systems, in particular, must be updated whenever updates are available. The OS determines how everything in a computer operates. If there are exploitable bugs in it, it’s not going to be difficult for cybercriminals to access or infect everything else.
Cybersecurity is not a highly complicated matter. Anyone who knows how to use a computer should be able to implement the critical security measures listed above, especially after receiving some form of training or orientation. Securing a business is not the responsibility of only one or a few people. It is the job of everyone to enable effective cybersecurity. Thus, everybody in an organization must be involved and trained on the best practices to adopt.