Disaster recovery and cyber security insurance are exploding fields, but the most important way you can be prepared for the worst of cyber attacks is to do everything you can to prevent them from happening.
However, cyber security can seem like an overwhelming, Sisyphean task. 1.5 million new phishing websites are created every month. At any given point each week, over 18 million websites are infected with malware.
And the attacks show no sign of slowing down. At the same time that technological advances make our lives easier, they also make it easier for bad actors to find weaknesses to exploit, and develop software that evades the latest and greatest security protocols.
The only way to keep up is to stay ahead, and keep track of the best ways to prevent a security breach in 2022.
Training your staff
The first and most important vulnerability is one that we’re all subject to: human weakness. Unlike code and algorithms, humans are able to defy protocol and refuse to follow established rules.
Most people don’t expose their companies to vulnerabilities on purpose. In fact, it’s usually the opposite. People do their best to stay safe online, but unless they’re continually reminded about what to look out for, they could easily slip. Cyber criminals are frighteningly good at social engineering, and even people who consider themselves internet-savvy can fall victim to their schemes.
That’s why it’s critical to serve your company with regular reminders of protocols, and to establish hierarchies of information sharing. Your business’ employees need to be trained on the latest threats, how to check links and email addresses, and establish known processes for sharing confidential information.
A Trained staff is a less vulnerable staff, and as the human link in the chain, the most important to be secured.
Asset inventory management is the process of creating visibility into the hardware and software that make up your network. Basically, in order to protect what you have, you need to know what you have.
A thorough and fearless inventory of your infrastructure is critical to be able to categorize vulnerabilities so you can design a tailored security plan around them. Having a current and thorough inventory will also make remediation in case of an attack much easier.
When taking inventory, you’ll need to keep in mind every asset the company owns, as well as any touchpoint those assets harbor. For example, you should have inventory of every company-owned device, as well as every application on every device, and the networks that connect them all together.
A complete inventory is the only way to be sure that you’re implementing a comprehensive endpoint solution.
Once you have a thorough inventory, and established rules and processes for keeping it updated, you’ll need to monitor your assets. True cyber security is never a “set it and forget it” solution. Hackers are constantly forging new attacks, which means that a secure network is only as good as its monitoring.
Vulnerability management and vulnerability and compliance management (VCM) are two of the most important monitoring processes. It’s the process of constantly identifying vulnerabilities, in order to better prioritize and execute security patches and processes that can help mitigate them.
Through monitoring, you’ll be able to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the threat landscape, which will help you to create effective action plans. Regular security audits are crucial to maintaining digital safety.
Keep Software Updated
We all fall victim to procrastinating on software updates. We click “remind me later” and forget altogether. Updating software never seems as urgent as whatever project we’re working on, and not worth interrupting a workflow.
But not updating your software could have serious consequences. Software updates matter, and need to be prioritized.
For the first part, software updates include patches and fixes that could improve cybersecurity by remediating old vulnerabilities as they’re exposed. The longer cyber criminals have with a certain program or OS, the more time they have to discover vulnerabilities to exploit. By waiting to update, you could be digitally leaving the door open to hackers who have learned the old software inside and out.
So the next time you’re tempted to click “remind me later” on a software update, just take a few minutes to give your system a refresh. It’s a quick and easy way to instantly boost your cyber security posture.
Another easy way to boost security is by establishing data hierarchies within your organization, and restricting data access to only those who need it in order to do their jobs. Trust and transparency are crucial to any healthy work culture, and restricting access doesn’t need to be about distrust of your employees.
Rather, restricting data access provides an extra layer of protection when hackers come calling. (And remember, the question about hackers is not if they come, but when.) If a hacker does penetrate one level into your organization, restricted access may help prevent them from getting any further, and making it easier to detect and contain threats.
Role Based Access Control (RBAC) software can help the people in your organization access the information they need, while protecting business critical data with an extra layer of protection.
95% of web application attacks are performed using weak or stolen credentials. That startling statistic speaks to the efficacy of phishing schemes, and their prevalence.
An easy way to add protection to your credentials is through the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA). With MFA, instead of being privileged with access after passing one authentication procedure, like a username and password, you’ll need to authenticate again in order to gain access. Also commonly known as two-step authentication, the second step of verification can take one of several forms.
A second step could involve something you know, like a second password or a pin. It could also involve a different kind of personal verification, like a thumbprint or facial recognition. Another common MFA technique is to use more than one device. For example, in order to gain access to an email account on a new computer, you may get a code sent to your trusted mobile device to input.
While MFA can seem like a burden at times, the few seconds you spend being extra fastidious about security could save you a lifetime of trouble.
Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)
VPNs are becoming more and more common, and for good reason. As the global workforce becomes more mobile, people turn to networks that may not be as secure as the professionally monitored ones located at their businesses.
This can leave people open to Man in the Middle (MitM) attacks. A common MitM tactic is to set up an innocuous-seeming public wifi network near where people tend to look for public wifi. When an unsuspecting user connects to the network, the cyber criminals can then monitor their traffic and steal everything from passwords and sensitive information to business critical data. From there, they can install viruses, perpetrate crimes like BEC (business email compromise), and plant ransomware.
All while the unsuspecting employee is sipping their latte, enjoying work in their favorite coffee shop.
VPNs give you the ability to create a private connection on a public network by masking your IP address, effectively anonymizing your traffic. Any employee working on a network outside of the secured business network should use a VPN as an easy preventative measure.
Device management is the process of ensuring that devices connected to a network have security processes in place. These protocols should be designed with an eye toward monitoring and protecting business-critical data through unified endpoint management and device tracking, monitoring, and troubleshooting. Thorough device management could also include remote access in order to wipe devices in case of infection or theft.
Common components of device management include device tracking. By using GPS to track devices, a business can better react to theft and ensure that no employees are in compromising situations. Application security also helps troubleshoot and containerize applications and operating systems. IAM (identity and access management) helps to manage a device’s users.
Altogether, a robust device management plan is crucial to ensuring that the many devices that touch your network don’t provide a foothold for cyber threats.
Threat Detection Tools
When it comes to cyber threats, speed is crucial. Leveraging cutting edge threat detection tools like intrusion detection systems (IDS), web proxy tech, and security information and event management (SIEM) tools, you can get a jump on threats to detect and contain them before they cause catastrophe.
These tools, combined with human intelligence in the form of security analysts who look for patterns and analyze trends, can set intruder traps and conduct proactive threat hunts to help keep your system safe.
Outsourced Security Services
Unless you’re a cyber security expert, managing all of the above security precautions could be overwhelming. It’s a full-time job to protect networks, devices, and systems, and only the knowledge and expertise of professionals could truly help you rest easy knowing your network is secured.
GroupOne has cutting edge tools, expertise, and passion for technology and client safety that helps business owners protect what they have and focus on growth, while we take care of security. Learn more about how GroupOne could help your business here.