Cybersecurity is high on the list of concerns for rapidly evolving businesses online. As more small businesses move services or store data online, they are putting themselves at risk for cyberattacks.
At the forefront of this battle against cybercrime and hackers, companies must consolidate a solid defense by implementing cybersecurity best practices. This article will cover key strategies every company should adopt to avoid attacks and become less exposed.
Cyberattacks aim to compromise systems and access relevant data that they can monetize, ranging from stolen credit card information or credentials for identity theft.
Strong cybersecurity policies and procedures can save millions of dollars for organizations. It does require an initial investment to set up a stable network and protect against intrusions. But the severity and scale of cyberattacks are increasing daily, and the threat is imminent. Thus, the need for safeguarding against such dangers is critical.
Recommended Cybersecurity Best Practices
Adopt the cybersecurity best practices below to prepare your organization against cyber threats and ensure the continuity of your business.
1. Create a Dedicated Insider Threat Role
An insider threat program is considered a core part of a modern cybersecurity strategy. Having employees who have access to data is risky since they can leak information or damage equipment. Creating an insider threat program is essential for companies that have sensitive data, and could have their reputations ruined due to exposure via an insider attack. It does come with a cost and can be considered a low priority task, businesses should not delay, and instead, gain the support of top management to develop policy across all departments.
2. Conduct Phishing Simulations
As of 2020, phishing attacks are one of the most prevalent forms of cyber threats experienced by companies on a global level. Phishing simulations should train employees on how to avoid clicking on malicious links or downloading unknown files. Raising cybersecurity awareness, such as simulated phishing attacks, helps employees understand the far-reaching effects of a phishing attack. The simulation creates a safe space where employees’ knowledge is tested, to ask questions, and find out what the latest tricks are.
3. Secure Remotely Working and Travelling Employees
Many corporate employees have the dangerous habit of accessing corporate networks through unsecured public Wi-Fi networks while traveling on work trips. Sacrificing security for convenience is unacceptable in the corporate world, and employees should be aware of the huge risks they are taking. Training and education on the precautions one can take to avoid risks is essential. Options, such as using VPNs while surfing the web when traveling installing anti-malware programs, will tighten the security gaps in your workforce outside the office. Read our article on remote access security.
4. Prioritize Employee Privacy
Data privacy awareness and digital data sensitivity concerns are at an all-time high, with new legislation coming out to better regulate it. Employee privacy can be prioritized by “anonymizing” their data and taking steps to protect them from threats in a prevention capacity. Educate employees using workshops and presentations about different cybersecurity policies and local laws, emphasizing the impact on their privacy.
5. Create a Cybersecurity Awareness Training Program
Company surveys have found that two out of three insider threat incidents are initiated by an employee or contractor, which can be prevented (ObserveIT). Employees are the first line of defense against cybercrime. Their education is vital in developing all the skills and knowledge needed to protect an organization. A comprehensive cybersecurity awareness program will create a critical “security-first culture.” It would address aspects such as identifying risks, changing employee behaviors, and tracking metrics of improvement.
6. Inform Third-Party Contractors of Cybersecurity Policy
Due to globalization and interconnectivity, many businesses take advantage of allocating specialized workloads to third-party partners or outsourced entities. However, these third-party contractors have to be made aware of the cybersecurity policies you are using. Both in-house staff, as well as third-party contractors, have to be made aware or trained to follow the cybersecurity policies put in place.
7. Implement IS Governance Approach
Every company should establish and maintain an information security (IS) framework that aligns with the business’s existing assurance strategies. When selecting one of these methods, it should ensure that the program selected provides all levels of management with the ability to employ a risk-based approach. This strategy enables staff to detect incidents, investigate, and respond to them faster.
8. Monitor User and File Activity
Malicious insider threats tend to take advantage of multiple channels to exfiltrate data. Developing a good user and file activity monitoring system is one of the best solutions available to this problem. Existing solutions such as Data loss prevention, which focus on only on data and not on user activity, fall short of preventing all malicious insider threats inside the system. If you monitor users closely and know what files they access, it’s easier to react to an incident or prevent one.
9. Be Aware of State-Sponsored Threats
It is well-documented that employees belonging to high-value industries such as healthcare, technology, and banking may be susceptible to monetary incentives to sell data to foreign governments and entities. Understanding the motivation of such entities and potential insider targets is of the utmost priority so that you can spot patterns of suspicious and underhanded behavior.
10. Enforce the Use of Password Managers, SSOs, and MFAs
The use of repetitive or weak passwords is still a very common practice among employees of multinationals today. Implementing an enterprise password management solution is the most viable option available to combat potential security soft spots in your company.
11. Audit Privileged Access
For the company’s head management, it’s advisable to review the number of users who have privileged access to sensitive areas of the business or data. Granting privileged access is a necessary risk, especially when there is a changeover in staff or changing roles, etc. Businesses should regularly look at permissions, adopt a system of temporary or rotating credentials, or develop a system of auditing privileged accesses.
Essential Network Security Practices
Security teams are held accountable for addressing the risk of insider breaches. To develop a strong plan against insider risk, take a systematic approach when organizing security measures. Here are some essential network security practices:
12. Stop Data Loss
Enterprises regularly experience the problems caused by leaked and stolen data. One of the top security concerns for modern companies is the act of data exfiltration from an endpoint. Companies should always control access, monitor contractors and vendors, as well as employees, to get a clear picture of how all parties access and handle data.
13. Detect Insider Threat
While well-trained users are a company’s first line in security and defense, technology remains the main tool. Companies can detect unauthorized behavior by regularly monitoring user activity. This strategy helps companies verify user actions that do not violate security policies while flagging the ones that do.
14. Back-Up Data
Backing up data regularly should be mandatory practice, especially when you consider the malicious ransomware out there like “Wannacry” and “Petya.” Data back-ups are good practice to include in one’s basic security hygiene, as well as to combat emerging cyber threats.
Beware of Social Engineering
Social engineering tactics are considered a threat and have been used for decades to gain login credentials and access to files that are encrypted. Such attempts may come from phone devices, emails, social media profiles, etc. In such circumstances, the best defense is to do the following:
15. Outline Clear Use Policies for New Hires and Third Parties
Requirements and expectations that the company has, regarding IT security, should be clearly stated in the employment contracts and the various SLAs and SOPs that a company might have.
16. Update Software and Systems
Cyber threats and crimes are ever-increasing, and an optimized security network might eventually fall prey to it. Thus, a company’s network should always be protected. Plan regular software updates and schedule maintenance on hardware security.
17. Create an Incident Response Playbook
No matter how many security measures a company takes against rising cybercrimes, vulnerability to unseen threats remain. Thus, companies should have a security incident esponse plan in case they get attacked. This planning will allow management to limit the damage of a security breach, allowing them to remediate the situation effectively.
18. Educate and Train Users
Employees should be trained on how to create and maintain strong passwords, recognize phishing emails, avoid dangerous applications, etc. ensuring that valuable information doesn’t flow out of the company in the case of an external attack.
19. Maintain Compliance
No matter what level of cybersecurity a company implements or already has, it should always comply with regulatory bodies such as; HIPAA, PCI, ISO, and DSS and keep up with their latest guidelines.
Preparation is Prevention
There are numerous cybersecurity best practices that a business can consider implementing when creating a security management strategy. We have highlighted ten of those practices as a jumping-off point to begin the journey of securing their business and assets in-house and online. A comprehensive cybersecurity program will protect companies from lasting financial consequences, as well as prevent reputational damage. It’s essential to prepare to prevent incidents and attacks, and the key to modern-day businesses’ survival. Contact our experts today and find out how you can become compliant and better secure data online.
Additional Practices to Improve Cybersecurity
- Build Processes before Choosing Tools: Organizers should implement a formal security governance program and think through the strategies that they will implement before deciding on tools, equipment, or software.
- Recruit HR to Halt Data Loss: Companies should recruit HR teams that can develop and execute better off-boarding processes to protect data. They can do this by systematically removing accesses from employees who have left or are on the verge of leaving.
- Prioritize Visibility: Insider threats that are malicious and accidental can be prevented by continuously monitoring user activity. Thus, the software chosen should also give management, unfettered visibility.
- Automation: Small things such as system updates should never depend on user discretion. Whenever possible, automatic updates, incident detection, etc. should be automated to avoid the instances of human error. Only complex and strategic actions and other activities requiring human intervention can rely on employees.
- Compliance with GDPR: The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the regulatory body responsible for regulating data privacy for all European citizens. Most companies operating inside the European Union need to ensure that they comply with the directive under this law.
- Securing Site with HTTPs: Companies should protect their site and users with an SSL certificate. Additionally, Google encourages businesses to use HTTPs to ensure secure and private connections to protect their user’s connection to their website. This extra level of security is one of the first steps in implementing the essential methods of site encryption, data integrity, and authentication.