Cyber threats have been rising at an alarming rate, and it has now become imperative for organizations to fight against cybercrimes. Recently, a massive data breach occurred when about 770 million email addresses, and passwords were exposed to a popular hacking forum.
The cyber breach raised concerns about cybersecurity and whether or not organizations and users were implementing strong security measures to protect their data.
By generating awareness about cybersecurity threats, and the prevention and adoption of enhanced security measures, companies can reduce the chances of a cybersecurity breach in their organizations.
Cybersecurity is often only associated with computers and devices; however, it goes much further beyond that. It encompasses an array of elements such as your organization’s culture, how you handle sensitive information, your password policies and access management, and much more.
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Here are 7 cybersecurity steps you should already be taking.
7 Cybersecurity Steps You Should Already Be Taking
1. Build a Security First Culture
A recent security report suggested that most organizations have poor security policies and unprotected data, making them vulnerable to cyber threats and data loss.
Employees are on the front lines of cyber defense, and therefore they can often be the cause of security breaches by falling victim to cybersecurity attacks.
Creating a security-first culture should be a top priority for organizations. It can help them implement security on a broader scale.
Cybersecurity training is an effective way to foster a better security culture. Training should include a variety of adequate security measures ranging from more robust password policies to software security and more.
You can customize training according to the department. Then you can customize training content based on factors such as prior knowledge, level of responsibility, what tools they are using, how much access they have to confidential information, etc.
You should also establish a formal security function that considers security architecture as a primary part of all aspects of your company’s IT program. This is particularly important for organizations that develop software/systems. For those organizations, security should be integrated at all stages throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC).
2. Establish an Identity and Access Management Program
You can also establish an efficient Identity and Access Management (IAM) program to administer and control access to information. An IAM is a framework of business policies and technologies to facilitate the management of digital and electronic systems.
Begin with a centralized identity software program and an efficient process to manage access to all systems. Adopt the principle of least privilege, which allows people only specific access that they need to do their job and no more.
Then manage privileged user access by allowing only trained and vetted professionals to access systems.
A report revealed that 53% of companies had 1,000 sensitive files open to every employee. Consider using separate access controls such as tokens for access to confidential information or admin systems.
Establish more reliable access management to sensitive data like financial information, client data, source codes, modification files, security firewalls, etc. Maintain regular checks on your identity and access management to review who has access to what and if employees are following proper access management.
3. Encrypt Devices and Network
A study by the Ponemon Institute discovered during the fiscal year of 2018 that 45% of respondent companies reported having an overall encryption strategy applied across their organizations.
Encryption is the process of securely encoding a message or information in such a way that only authorized people can access it with an encryption key or secret code. Network encryption means encrypting data and messages transmitted over a computer network.
Similarly, you can also encrypt your computer system with either full-hard disk or file-based encryption. Encryption increases the integrity of the information. However, encryption alone does not guarantee it. But it’s a critical aspect of security that organizations should not overlook.
4. Implement Automated Protection Systems
Advanced technologies like Intrusion Detection Systems, Intrusion Prevention Systems, Data Loss Prevention Systems, and Web Application Firewalls can help provide enhanced capabilities.
- Intrusion Detection System (IDS): A software application or device that monitors network traffic to search for suspicious activities, or vulnerabilities and sends alerts when it finds such items.
- Intrusion Prevention System (IPS): An IPS extends the solutions of IDS. It not only detects threats but also adds the ability to block them.
- Data Loss Prevention (DLP): A practice that ensures end users do not send critical or sensitive information outside the organizational network. It detects and prevents data breaches, unwanted destruction of sensitive data, or exfiltration.
- Web Application Firewalls (WAF): A web application firewall is an application firewall that is deployed to protect servers. It implements a set of rules for HTTP conversations that cover common cyberattacks such as SQL Injection and Cross-Site Scripting (XSS).
5. Use a VPN to Protect Sensitive Information
About 70% of professionals work remotely at least one day a week. If you or your employees work remotely and use public Wi-Fi to access the company’s information, third parties such as government agencies, internet service providers, and cybercriminals may be able to see your online activities.
They may even use sensitive information such as usernames and passwords to breach your organization’s system. By using public Wi-Fi, you allow cybercriminals to steal information and use it in any manner they want.
To protect your company’s assets, you should always use a virtual private network (VPN) when using a public or unprotected/unknown Wi-Fi.
A VPN allows you to establish a secure internet connection to another network with an additional layer of encryption that encodes your data. It shields your browsing history, credentials, and other sensitive information from prying eyes on a public Wi-Fi.
6. Use Two-Factor Authentication
About 92% of organizations have credentials for sale on the dark web. This indicates that the passwords used to maintain security and guard your organization’s assets could be available on the dark internet. It also shows that the majority of the passwords are too weak and can be easily identified and broken.
Two-factor authentication, also known as multiple layer authentication, is a two-step process to sign in to an account. It essentially adds an extra authentication step to the usual method of entering a username and password to access an account.
Two-factor authentication validates your identity via different methods, such as generating one-time passwords (OTP) on your registered email ID or phone number. This makes it difficult for attackers to break into users’ accounts.
Unless the hacker has access to your registered devices, it is quite challenging to breach an account which has two-factor authentication implemented.
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7. Conduct Security Assessments Regularly
Conducting regular security assessments ensures that security practices and policies are being followed and implemented thoroughly. It can help you identify potential vulnerabilities and weaknesses that could lead to a security threat.
There are different types of security assessments that you could run to determine security loopholes, such as a perimeter edge assessment, security gap assessment, penetration testing, and others.
Security assessments can vary based on the organization type, size, specific requirements, and time frame. By undertaking regular security assessments, you can ensure that your staff is vigilant about maintaining IT security.
Frequent assessments will also increase awareness about security throughout the organization. It will prove your commitment to enhanced security and demonstrate to your customers that you care about their data.
Moreover, a cyber risk reporting program should be established. It should include regular updates about potential threats and vulnerabilities that may be external or exist within the organization. These risks can then be addressed, and formal cyber protective measures can be adopted to avoid breaches.
Implementing a robust security policy is essential for safeguarding your organization against cybersecurity threats and hackers.
Remember that security begins with each individual. Right from your employees to your clients, every active participant in your organization has the responsibility of maintaining a secure culture.
Whether it is locking your devices while you leave your desk for a quick call or encrypting data over a network, security should be thoroughly integrated into every stage and throughout all phases of your company.