In our first two articles of this series, we looked at 2020 cybersecurity trends and predictions for the future. Cyberattacks and data breaches are risks we all face now. Those who are well prepared are the ones who can prevent attacks or recover relatively unscathed. In this third article, we look at some ways you can prevent and combat cybercrime. Aside from consulting with an IT security specialist like Zeta Sky, there are four essential actions that we recommend businesses take.
1. Choose prevention, not detection
The proverb “prevention is better than cure” has never been more true than when applied to cybersecurity. Detection tools alone are not enough against the types of sophisticated cyberattack trends we are seeing. Not only are today’s threats able to slip through normal defenses like antivirus software, they can often remain undetected for many days. Malware can sit on your network, learning about your systems and users. It therefore makes more sense to plan ways to prevent, rather than detect, a threat.
Here are some of the ways you can prevent cyberattacks:
Develop cybersecurity policies and procedures: Facing today’s cybersecurity challenges requires robust, well-organized planning. Your cybersecurity protocols need to be specific to your business and clarify three things: who in your team is responsible for what, how each policy aligns with each service, and your response process to a security breach.
Train employees to identify phishing emails: Employees are the target of phishing attacks so training your staff to identify when an email is malicious or not is critical. Phishing emails can be incredibly sophisticated and personal, easily tricking recipients into thinking they come from a legitimate source.
Enforce safe password practices: Remind employees to use passwords that are long and complex, but easy to remember. Passwords should also be changed regularly according to a schedule and passwords must never be recycled or used for more than one account or device. The simplest and safest solution is to install a password management system.
Educate employees about remote work security best practices: It’s important that your employees practice safe remote work. This includes basic preventative behavior like setting strong passwords, never leaving devices unattended in public, keeping software updated, and keeping work data separate from personal.
Secure your Wi-Fi network: There are some very simple steps you can take to secure your Wi-Fi network including using password best practices, providing a separate network for guests, deploying a firewall, and looking for any unofficial access points to your Wi-Fi network.
Install a firewall: A firewall shields your network from cyberattacks by stopping malicious software. This defense perimeter needs to extend to employees who are working remotely, as well as any portable devices that are connected to your network, such as a tablet or mobile phones. Even fitness trackers or smart watches need to be considered. Employee devices should also be set to automatically download security updates and employees should make sure their passwords comply with any policies your company has.
Implement access controls: Access controls are security measures that protect data by authenticating and authorizing those who have access to it. They ensure that whoever is accessing that data is who they say they are and that they are allowed to have access. Every business that uses the internet should have some level of access control in place.
Create mobile device security protocols: Some best practices include using strong pass codes and biometrics (such as facial recognition or fingerprint authentication) to lock devices, turning on data encryption, turning off Bluetooth when it’s not in use, installing an antivirus application, and only downloading from trusted sites like Apple’s App Store or Google Play.
Comply with data security regulations: There are hundreds of laws at both the federal and state levels that protect the data of US citizens. We highly recommend that businesses check their state’s privacy, cybersecurity, and data breach legislation.
2. Unify your IT infrastructure
A lot of businesses use a mix of different platforms and applications. This increases both exposure to cyberattacks and the difficulty of protecting the IT system as a whole. For example, you may be using some applications from the cloud and others from on-premises physical servers. Or one team may use MS Office tools and another Google Suite, et cetera. This creates risk because the more varied your IT environment is, the more variables you have to consider when securing your data, and the more weaknesses cybercriminals can exploit.
A simple and effective way to achieve unified architecture security is to take your business to the cloud. Cloud providers like Amazon Web Service (AWS) and Microsoft invest heavily in data protection and have layers of built-in security features. As a customer of these platforms, you are protected by their security best practices and gain access to security tools and resources, as well as support if you do encounter a security issue.
There are other steps you can take toward unifying your infrastructure so that your security strategy can cover your entire IT environment:
- Choose security tools that have a broad application, rather than tools that only apply to one specific environment (e.g., on-premises data centers versus the cloud). Using more tools for specific applications doesn’t equate to more security.
- Take a multilayered approach to security: physical infrastructure (e.g., data centers), network (e.g., firewalls), endpoint (e.g., mobile devices), software, and data (e.g., emails) all need to be considered. This may seem opposite to the “simple is better” message above, but by securing every layer in your business, you will create a broad and unified security strategy that protects your business from today’s increasingly smart and aggressive cyberthreats.
- Make security a priority for all teams, not just your IT team. Encourage a collaborative approach for your business, where teams share information with one another and understand that every employee plays an important role in the business’s security. This will require training employees on your security protocols and best practices in order to build a culture of accountability.
The best thing is you don’t have to go through the process of unifying your infrastructure or migrating to the cloud alone. Zeta Sky’s team of IT experts are experienced in helping businesses make the move to the cloud and achieve greater flexibility, productivity, security, and more.
3. Create an incident response plan
In an ideal world, your proactively secured and unified IT infrastructure shouldn’t need an incident response plan. However, an incident response plan is not just reactive. Since cyberattacks are a statistical probability for all organizations, you have to be able to detect them and then respond with an established and effective process. This process will be unique to your organization, and greatly increase your ability to prevent and survive cybercrime. The actions you need to take to create your incident response plan include:
- Completing a comprehensive security risk assessment
- Creating specific response processes for different potential incidents
- Training your employees on these processes and on how to identify and report potential attacks
Setting up an effective incident response plan for your business can be tricky if you don’t know how to approach it. Here, outside expertise can be essential. Zeta Sky can help you establish your security protocols and your own proactive incident response capabilities.
4. Stay ahead of the curve
Keeping updated on trends in cybersecurity is an important part of the “prevention not detection” approach. You can stay on top of things by following security experts and influencers online. Social media is a great tool for keeping up with the latest cybersecurity trends and tips if you follow relevant hashtags and accounts. You can also listen to cybersecurity podcasts, read news articles, and attend workshops, conferences, and other events.
Finding a good IT security partner to work with can help you properly support and protect your business, as well as help it grow. They can keep an eye on all the threats that might possibly affect your business, as well as provide efficient and comprehensive response and support if something does happen.
If you want to know more about how to protect your business from cyberthreats, contact Zeta Sky to connect with IT experts who will help you find the best solutions for your business.