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8 Best Practices for Organisations to Ensure Cyber Hygiene

Given the rapid evolution of cybercrimes, the threat landscape is very volatile. In fact, since the pandemic, the FBI has reported a 300% increase in cyberattacks in the US. Unfortunately, 43% of attacks were aimed at small businesses but only 14% were prepared to defend themselves

With this in mind, it is pertinent that organisations develop a common cyber hygiene policy. Basically, given the level of sophistication of cybercrime today, installing an antivirus or using network firewalls is not enough. Rather, organisations should strive to maintain good cyber hygiene.

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What is cyber hygiene?

Cyber hygiene pertains to a set of practices organisations should employ to maintain the health and security of their users, networks, devices, and data. Essentially, the goal is to guarantee the security of data and protect it from theft or attack.

As such, here are 8 of the best practices you can employ in your organisation to ensure cyber hygiene.

Ensuring your organisation’s cyber hygiene:

 

Ensuring your organisation’s cyber hygiene:

 

1) Employ Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Enabling multi-factor authentication on all of your organization’s accounts and devices ensures that only authorised users have access.Given the variety of authentication methods available, having at least two or three verification factors, such as using one-time passwords (OTPs) and password-based authentication, creates a layered defence that makes it more difficult for an unauthorised person to access a network.

2) Ensure endpoint protection

Some businesses provide employees with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as laptops, desktops, and mobile phones, to access the corporate network. That said, businesses should ensure that these endpoint devices have device and browser protections as well as network, application, and data controls to ensure that sensitive data is protected. Likewise, the occurrence of any cyberattack is mitigated.

3) Perform regular backups

By regularly performing backups, organisations can be assured that their data is safe. That said, experts recommend following the 3-2-1 rule of backup, in which three copies of data are stored on two different kinds of media while keeping one copy offsite. Doing so can guarantee that all sensitive organisational data is secured.

4) Patch software right away

Since cybercriminals systematically look for vulnerabilities in outdated software, update your software right away whenever patches are available. In a 2020 IBM survey, they found that 43% of respondents who recently experienced data breaches indicated that the cause was a failure of the organisation to patch their software right away. As such, routinely screen your network for missing patches and update them right away when possible.

5) Implement a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)

For organisations that rely on infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and software-as-a-service (SaaS), utilise CASB software. With this in place, it would secure connections between end users and the cloud. Likewise, it would enforce your organisation’s security policies, such as authentication, encryption, data loss prevention, and malware detection. Essentially, through a CASB, an organisation can have better visibility and control over the security of cloud-based data.

6) Educate your employees

Routinely conduct in-depth cybersecurity trainings to emphasise their crucial role in mitigating cyberattacks. Likewise, provide consistent reviews and updates on relevant cybersecurity policies to reinforce learning about foundational cybersecurity practices.

7) Routinely scan your system

Regularly conduct scans for your entire network to identify threats and vulnerabilities. This includes scanning endpoint devices and routers to determine any potential points of entry for attackers. Encrypting devices and having at least WPA2 or WPA3 encryption on routers can secure your network from threats.

8) Create an incident response plan

Given the plethora of attacks on big businesses such as the 2021 Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Attack, the 2021 T-Mobile Cyberattack, and the 2020 SolarWinds Hack, businesses should have an incident response plan in case attacks like those do happen. Through an incident response plan, IT and cybersecurity professionals can identify the breach correctly, contain the threat, control the damage, and patch vulnerabilities that allowed the attack to happen in the first place. This can help the business recover from the attack with minimal damage.

Final Thoughts

Given that cyberattacks can be expensive and damaging to the organisation, it would be beneficial for companies to maintain good cyber hygiene. By following 8 of the best practices to ensure cyber hygiene, the organisation can be assured that possible threats are mitigated and data and networks are secure.

That said, if your organisation needs help maintaining good cyber hygiene, Cyber Sierra can help. With your organisation’s growth and security in mind, Cyber Sierra can assure you that all cybersecurity regulations will be met, risks will be managed seamlessly, security will be baked across the entirety of your business, third-party vendors will be monitored, and the right insurance coverage will protect you and your business from costly breaches. Essentially, with Cyber Sierra’s consolidated approach to security, you can be assured that all your security needs will be met.

 

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Why Startups Must Get Serious About Cybersecurity

I recently met the co-founder of an up-and-coming FinTech startup. During our conversation, he boldly stated, “My company is too small to need comprehensive cybersecurity.” Such a mindset is common in most startups. Many assume that only larger organisations should worry about phishing scams, ransomware attacks, or advanced persistent threats. Yet, the truth is worth noting.

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Cybercriminals increasingly target small businesses and startups

Smaller businesses are more likely to be targeted by cyber attackers than larger enterprises. They also suffer more. Per one recent report, smaller companies (<100 employees) experience 350% more social engineering attacks than larger companies. Data breaches at small businesses have also surged by 152% in 2020 and 2021. And larger organisations? By only 75%. The cost of data breaches for small firms has also increased: from $2.35 million in 2020 to $2.98 million in 2021. The increase was much smaller for medium and large organisations during the same period.

Smaller businesses need more funds and human resources to implement robust cybersecurity measures, resulting in weak defences that leave many gaps for bad actors to exploit. Attackers also know that targeting larger firms is more likely to attract the attention of law enforcement. That’s why they prefer to target unprepared smaller businesses. In return, they get a reasonably high payout while keeping a relatively low profile.

How Startups Can Protect Themselves

Since 60% of small businesses fold within six months of a cyberattack, startups must take cybersecurity more seriously. If they don’t, they will become victims and struggle to survive, much less thrive. For one, all startups must implement a cybersecurity strategy, invest in robust security tools, and implement strong procedures to protect their business-critical data.

Startups can also benefit by identifying their most crucial assets and prioritizing their defense areas accordingly. Other protective strategies like next-gen anti-malware/anti-virus tools, multi-factor authentication, strong access controls, data encryption, backup, and regular cybersecurity training can also help to mitigate at least some cyber risks in their business landscape.

A Final Word

The writing is on the wall. Hackers target small businesses and startups as much as – and sometimes more – than established firms. And the sooner startup owners wake up to this reality, the better they can safeguard what matters to them – their digital assets, people, budding reputations, and most importantly, their futures.

 

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