Cybercrime is a frighteningly serious challenge. Regardless of size and industry, organizations have witnessed the disastrous effects of cyberattacks. As we grow technologically advanced, malicious actors are getting creative, employing unique tactics to breach enterprise security.
Between 2020 and 2021, there was a 31% spike in security attacks, according to Accenture’s “State of Cybersecurity Resilience 2021” report. Also, the per company attacks have increased to 270 from 206. The global cyber community has seen some of the biggest cybersecurity violations in the last two years. Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack reported in 2021 shut down the entire oil supply across the East Coast of the US for several days. A few months before this, attackers gained illegal access to several governments and private systems worldwide in the SolarWind attack.
The increasing number of cyber attacks prompted the US government to release an Executive Order mandating the organizations to follow a set of best practices and voluntary standards to ensure a resilient cybersecurity framework.
Regardless of the government mandates and complex technology, attackers are finding sophisticated ways to maneuver through and breach your system. In addition, the normalization of remote work has led to a broader and more vulnerable surface area. A report on Covid-19’s impact on business security revealed that remote workers accounted for 20% of cyberattacks during the pandemic.
With cybercriminals hiding their tracks smartly, remaining in the shadows of the cloud, and exploiting complex vulnerabilities, organizations must leave no stone unturned to improve their security posture. Below we have summarized the top 11 cybersecurity best practices that businesses should adopt to mitigate cybercrimes and stay compliant with evolving regulatory requirements.
11 Best Cybersecurity Practices
1. Mitigate human risks
It is commonly said that the weakest link in an organization’s security stance is the human link. Hackers prefer breaching into your systems through people. You can plug this comparatively easy entry point of attacks by educating your employees on cybersecurity best practices. While effectively communicating with all your team members, you must allow them to adopt security measures with complete autonomy. One tried and tested practice is to make them responsible for the data they work with. It will infuse an added sense of accountability and lead them to take cybersecurity seriously.
Creating awareness among your team about social engineering tactics like phishing, pretexting, quid pro quo, and tailgating will enable them to avoid attacker’s baits.
2. Reduce employee negligence
Although we talked about giving your employees autonomy in implementing security measures, it is advisable to investigate any potential employee negligence. It is crucial since about 22% of the cyberattacks in 2022 occurred due to employee oversights and mistakes.
Training your employees on security best practices specific to their processes is essential. Running them through real-life security breaches and potential threats that your organization constantly faces can help reduce employee negligence. You can also make your employees a part of your cybersecurity policy-making process by seeking their suggestions. Also, ensure that your employees use proper email and URL screening mechanisms to eliminate spam.
3. Secure remote devices
Despite its benefits of flexibility and speed, remote working has an unfavorable impact on security. By enabling your team to access confidential data from remote locations and different devices, you open up more doors for hackers to intrude into your system. Inform employees strictly about the disastrous consequences of not keeping their workplaces secure.
As an organization, you must gain complete control and visibility into your team’s critical assets and data access. You must regulate data transfer from one location to another by remote workers.
4. Improve password management
Most employees often use the same password for years and across multiple platforms. This is a major red flag. Passwords must be unique, complex, and unpredictable. Each password must contain a mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. You must also mandate that your employees update their passwords regularly.
In addition to protecting access to your assets, you must also protect your passwords. They might get lost or stolen, thereby making your system vulnerable. A password manager can help you handle passwords securely, ensuring your critical data’s safety. Implementing multi-factor authentication is a practice that most organizations prefer. It involves an authorization layer such as OTP and biometrics in addition to passwords.
5. Implement the least privilege principle
Access to sensitive business assets must be stringent. A good way is to give everyone in your organization the default or fewest privileges. You can set a process for privilege escalation so that you can track who is accessing what. Also, you can revoke access if access to confidential data is no longer needed.
The principle of least privilege (POLP) might seem tedious, but it can be a lifesaver. Multiple access management solutions are available to make privilege management easier.
Zero trust security policy is yet another practice similar to the principle of least privilege (POLP). It rules that only the devices and user accounts that have been thoroughly authenticated and verified must be allowed to access systems. Both least privilege and zero trust policies will significantly reduce the risk of insider threats.
6. Monitor supply chain risks
The software supply chain risks have grown so severe that the US government had to include them as a special mention in its cybersecurity EO. Including code blocks from open-source or third-party vendors is a common practice among the developer community. Although it speeds up the development process, there are significant threats associated with such an approach.
Hackers notoriously inject corrupted code into open-source code, which can wreak havoc on your system if not eliminated. To avoid adding malicious code to your system, evaluate the code you’re picking up from outside and check it for any known vulnerabilities.
7. Backup critical data
Irrespective of your security frameworks’ robustness, it is important to have backups of all your confidential data. With increasing ransomware attacks and hackers demanding steep prices in exchange for your data, backups will save the day. Not just with ransomware, saving your data copies as backups can help you during data loss incidents like cloud breaches, equipment breakdowns, and accidental deletions.
8. Document cybersecurity policy
Ensuring consistency and standardization concerning security measures should be a priority for your organization. It is possible quite easily by documenting your cybersecurity policy. The document can be shared across the organization and used as a primer.
9. Safeguard your corporate network
A compromised or weak network gives hackers direct access to critical data in your systems. Use a firewall to avoid such incidents. It provides a strong barrier between your data and cyber threats by deflecting access requests that don’t match the predetermined criteria.
In addition to an external firewall, you can also set up an internal network firewall to have an added layer of security. If you allow remote work for your employees, ensure that they use a firewall for their home network through which they access the data.
10. Undertake cybersecurity audits
Frequent evaluation and analysis of your systems and assets will help you detect any vulnerability or security threat that was previously invisible. It will also identify security gaps such as unused accounts, unnecessary privileges, and redundant access permissions. Auditing, however, requires you to have a thorough check analysis of data collected from audit logs, session records, and metadata.
11. Install anti-malware software
No matter how many training sessions you take, even the expert resources will make mistakes, like falling prey to phishing techniques. Phishing scam generally involves attempts to have your employees click on an unharmful-looking link, only to install malware onto their system. The purpose of this tactic is to steal user credentials or sensitive data. The phishing scams run by hackers are so ingenious and thoroughly researched that it is not impossible to be filled by them. Therefore, investing in an effective anti-malware solution or anti-virus is only advisable. Such tools detect malicious links and alert your employees.
Cybersecurity has grown from an issue affecting massive organizations to a plague hurting almost every enterprise, big or small. In the current environment of data-driven innovation, safeguarding sensitive information is of utmost importance. Your only chance to tackle cyber threats is to build a resilient system and enhance your security posture.
PruTech is an industry leader in offering cybersecurity services to help organizations become more secure. With data being the new oil in this information age, our services take care of complete security lifecycle management for on-premises and cloud infrastructure.