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Keeping information safe and secure is challenging developments for businesses of all sizes. Expeditious shifts from in-person to online to hybrid workplaces forced companies to change, or at least reexamine, their cybersecurity practices and protocols, and unfortunately, many weren’t prepared. In fact, according to CyberEdge’s Cyberthreat Defense Report, 85% of organizations suffered from a successful cyberattack in 2021.
Now, businesses who have suffered cyberattacks along with companies who’ve been fortunate enough to avoid being a victim of breaches and hack are looking at ways they can bolster their defenses and safeguard their data. But which plans, practices, and services should these organizations invest in?
Below are four steps businesses of all shapes and sizes can take to better protect themselves against cyberattacks:
Identify “Crown Jewels” of Your Business
Understanding what information cybercriminals are after most is essential to combating cyberattacks. Create an inventory list of the valuable data and assets within your organization, including manufacturer, model, hardware and software information. Take note of who has access to important data and information, accounting for all storage locations. This practice will ensure that business leaders have a track record of accessibility so that they know where to look in case of a vulnerability or breach.
Protect Assets by Updating and Authenticating
At the end of the day, protecting your data and devices from malicious actors is what cybersecurity is all about. In order to accomplish this, make sure your security software is current. Investing in the most up-to-date software, web browsers, and operating systems is one of the best defenses against a host of viruses, malware, and other online threats. Furthermore, make sure these devices have automatic updates turned on so employees aren’t tasked with manually updating devices. Make sure all data is being backed up either in the cloud or via separate hard drive storage.
Another important way to keep your assets safe is by ensuring staff are using strong authentication to protect access to accounts and ensure only those with permission can access them. This includes strong, secure, and differentiated passwords. Using weak and similar passwords makes a hacker’s life a lot easier and can give them access to more materials than they could dream of. Finally, make sure employees are using multi-factor authentication. While this may result in a few extra sign-ins, MFA is essential to safeguarding data and can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful breach.
Monitor and Detect Suspicious Activity
Companies must always be on the lookout for possible breaches, vulnerabilities and attacks, especially in a world where many often go undetected. This can be done by investing in cybersecurity products or services that help monitor your networks such as antivirus and antimalware software. Make sure your employees are following all established cybersecurity protocols before, during, and after a breach. Individuals who ignore or disregard important cybersecurity practices can compromise not only themselves, but the entire organization. Paying close attention to whether your company is fully embracing all of your cybersecurity procedures and technology is incumbent upon business leaders.
Have a Response Plan Ready
No matter how many safeguards you have in place, the unfortunate reality is that cyber incidents still occur. However, responding in a comprehensive manner will reduce risks to your business and send a positive signal to your customers and employees. Therefore, businesses should have a cyber incident response plan ready to go prior to a breach. In it, companies should embrace savvy practices such as disconnecting any affected computers from the network, notifying your IT staff or the proper third-party vendors, and utilizing any spares and backup devices while continuing to capture operational data.
Cyber liability insurance is another option for businesses. This type of insurance generally covers businesses’ liability for a data breach involving sensitive customer information, such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, account numbers, driver’s license numbers, health records and other customer information.
Source: The National Cybersecurity Alliance.
Cybersecurity has become one of the hottest topics both inside and outside of technology circles over the last two years. There is a seemingly endless newscycle dedicated to cybersecurity mishaps and concerns. It can be easy for everyday individuals to become overwhelmed and to feel powerless in the face of these ongoing threats to our online activities. But in actuality nothing could be further from the truth.
With all of the jargon typically thrown around in relation to cybersecurity, there is a longstanding misperception that cybersecurity is beyond everyday people and that it should be left to the professionals. That is simply not true. Individuals play a huge role in cybersecurity threat prevention, detection, and remediation. Unfortunately, many individuals are not aware of some of the best practices for boosting cybersecurity and how easy they are to use.
Here are key best practices that you can implement today to enhance your cybersecurity and create a more secure environment.
STEP 1: Watch Out for Phishing
Phishing – when a cybercriminal poses as a legitimate party in hopes of getting individuals to engage with malicious content or links – remains one of the most popular tactics among cybercriminals today. In fact, 80% of cybersecurity incidents stem from a phishing attempt. Keep an eye out for typos, poor graphics and other suspicious characteristics will help thwart these attempts.
STEP 2: Update Your Passwords and Use a Password Manager
Having unique, long and complex passwords is one of the best ways to immediately boost your cybersecurity. Password cracking is one of the go-to tactics that cybercriminals turn to in order to access sensitive information. And if you are a “password repeater,” once a cybercriminal has hacked one of your accounts, they can easily do the same across all of your accounts.
One of the biggest reasons that individuals repeat passwords is that it can be tough to remember all of the passwords you have. Fortunately, by using a password manager, individuals can securely store all of their unique passwords in one place. Meaning, people only have to remember one password. In addition, password managers are incredibly easy to use and can automatically plug-in stored passwords when you visit a site.
STEP 3: Enable MFA
Enabling multi-factor authentication (MFA) – which prompts a user to input a second set of verifying information such as a secure code sent to a mobile device or to sign-in via an authenticator app – is a hugely effective measure that anyone can use to drastically reduce the chances of a cybersecurity breach. In fact, according to Microsoft, MFA is 99.9% effective in preventing breaches. Therefore, it is a must for any individual that is looking to secure their devices and accounts.
STEP 4: Activate Automatic Updates
Making sure devices are always up-to-date with the most recent versions is essential to preventing cybersecurity issues from cropping up. Cybersecurity is an ongoing effort, and updates are hugely important in helping to address vulnerabilities that have been uncovered as well as in providing ongoing maintenance. Therefore, instead of trying to remember to check for updates or closing out of update notifications, enable automatic update installations whenever possible.
While cybercriminals continue to develop creative ways to trick unsuspecting individuals, implementing these tips will go a long way to helping you stay cybersmart.
Source: The National Cybersecurity Alliance.
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