We can no longer deny the importance of the internet in our everyday lives, and the lines between our online and offline lives have become so blurred in these recent years.
However, while the internet can become a very beneficial place for everyone, it can also be a perilous place filled with malware, viruses, fraudulent links, malicious bots, and most importantly, cybercriminals.
Data has become a valuable asset in this digital and social media environment, making sensitive data highly sought-after by many cybercriminals. For example, hackers can steal your identity and use it for their personal gains or launch more dangerous attacks on those related to you.
On the other hand, cybercriminals can steal sensitive user data stored on a company’s database, causing long-term and even permanent damage to the business.
In short, protecting your data is now an essential thing to focus on for any business and individual, and here we will share some actionable cybersecurity tips to protect your data better.
1. Use Strong and Unique Passwords
Before we focus on the technology side of cybersecurity, it’s imperative to understand that human errors remain the top cause of successful data breaches, and weak, non-unique passwords remain the most common culprit of such human errors.
Cybercriminals can use bots to launch credential cracking (brute force) attacks to ‘guess’ your password, and obviously, less complex passwords are easier to break.
On the other hand, credential stuffing attacks are designed to take advantage of our widespread bad habit of re-using the same password on all our different accounts. In a credential stuffing attack, hackers use bots to try known/stolen credentials (i.e., sold credentials on the dark web) on another website.
With that being said, make sure your password is at least 10 characters long and include a combination of numbers, symbols, uppercase letters, and lowercase letters, and use different passwords on different accounts.
You can use various password manager solutions; many of them are free to easily create and ‘remember’ unique and randomized passwords for all your accounts.
2. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication on Sensitive Data
Still related to the above tip, multi-factor authentication (MFA), or also called two-factor authentication (2FA), is an additional layer of security to your password in cases when your credentials are stolen.
MFA is essentially asking for additional information besides your password before you can access your account, which can be:
- Something you are: your fingerprint, facial recognition, iris/retinal scanner, etc.
- Something you know: a second password, PIN, answer to a secret question, etc.
- Something you have: a USB dongle, a smartphone to pair with, etc.
The idea is, even when your password is cracked, the attacker still won’t be able to access your account. Implement MFA on places that contain sensitive, regulated, and valuable data.
3. Implement Bot Management Infrastructure
Since most data breaches nowadays are performed with malicious bots’ help, we can effectively protect our data by detecting and managing these malicious bots’ activities.
Bot protection solutions like DataDome can detect and manage malicious bot traffic in real-time, including highly sophisticated bots masking themselves as real human users by performing human-like behaviors like nonlinear mouse movements, randomized typing patterns, etc.
A good bot management solution should:
- Be able to differentiate between good bots vs. bad bots.
- Be able to identify bots from legitimate human visitors.
- Analyze the bot’s behavior and act accordingly
- Identify the fingerprints (IP address, browser used, OS used) and filter based on fingerprint reputation.
- Throttle/rate-limit any bots that over-access the service
4. Invest In Other Security Infrastructures
You should invest in at least:
- A proper antivirus/anti-malware software, preferably one capable of behavioral-based protection to defend against zero-day attacks
- Firewalls as required (i.e., if you are using a web application, make sure to use a WAF/Web Application Firewall)
- VPN to encrypt data being transmitted across public networks
5. Update Your Software and OS ASAP
As a general rule of thumb, always update all your applications and OSs as soon as the update arrives.
It’s important to understand that no software is 100% invulnerable to cybersecurity threats, and this is why software manufacturers release security updates and fixes to ‘patch’ these vulnerabilities.
Thus, you wouldn’t want to have your network compromised due to a missed or failed software update.
6. Educate Your Employees About Cybersecurity Best Practices
No matter how strong your cybersecurity defense measures are, your system’s security is only as strong as the least knowledgeable person in your company.
You should educate your employees about cybersecurity best practices, common attack patterns, and how to defend against common attacks, especially social engineering and phishing attacks targeting human errors.
For example, phishing attacks may attempt to trick the user into clicking a malicious link that may contain malware that will compromise your system’s data.
Educate them never to enter any personal or company information in response to a pop-up, an email from an unknown sender (or a suspicious sender impersonating someone you know/reputable companies), or any other forms of communication they didn’t initiate.
Repeat the training regularly while including new trends in cybersecurity and new potential threats.
Also Read: What Are Honeypots? Definition and Security.
7. Public Wi-Fi Best Practices
As a general rule of thumb, you should only connect to properly secured, encrypted Wi-Fi, and preferably completely hidden office Wi-Fi. However, in cases when employees are working remotely and must access public Wi-Fi, make the practice of using a VPN mandatory.
Public Wi-Fi networks can be hazardous and can allow attackers to intercept data transmission easily. However, make sure to use a reputable, secure VPN.
Protecting your valuable data is now a significant concern for big companies, enterprises, small companies, and even individuals. Cybercrimes are advancing at a very rapid rate, so we can no longer afford to take them lightly.
By following the seven best practices above, you can effectively protect your data from various cybersecurity attacks and protect your valuable and sensitive data in the process.