The all-inclusive guide to cybersecurity

The constantly changing landscape of cybersecurity can make protecting your enterprise feel like a never-ending battle between evil and good. Whether you work with a managed IT services provider or handle security yourself, you’ll need to understand these three vital stages of cybersecurity.

1. Identify the threat

Understanding the many different cyberthreats to the modern business is an essential first step in knowing how to combat them.

Malware & Ransomware

Malware refers to malicious software that tries to infect a computer or mobile device. This is developed for the purpose of gaining access or causing damage to data, devices, and networks.

The main types of malware are:

  • Viruses – software or code that copies itself onto computers
  • Trojans – malicious software disguised as a legitimate tool
  • Spyware – software that secretly monitors activity on a computer or network
  • Ransomware – software that hijacks a system and holds information for ransom

Phishing

Phishing attacks are scams to trick a user or organization into handing over sensitive information such as accounts numbers and passwords. Most commonly received as emails, phishing attacks attempt to trick individuals into handing over data by masquerading as trusted contacts or businesses.

Phishing attacks collectively cost American businesses $500 million every year.

Forbes

DDoS Attacks

Distributed denial-of-services (DDoS) attacks are an attempt to make an online service unavailable by flooding it with traffic from multiple sources. These type of attacks can be used to prevent access to servers, devices, networks, or applications. Impact from this type of attack can range from a minor annoyance to a entire websites of businesses being taken offline.

Compromised Credentials

The easiest way for an attacker to gain access to a system is through compromised user identities and credentials. 81% of hacking related breaches leverage stolen, default, or weak passwords. Furthermore, user credentials can be an easy target because people many people don’t change default user names or passwords and tend to use the same credentials across both business and personal platforms.

Rogue Devices

Any electronic, wireless device on a computer network is considered a rogue device.  An unsecured device connected to a network can compromise security by creating unprotected entry points for many of the threats listed above.

Team meeting table

2. Take protective measures

Now that you understand the potential threats to your enterprise, you need to put policies and processes into place to protect your assets. Key to this step is protecting your network and devices, backing up your data, and above all providing employees with adequate training on all of these steps.

Network and device security

There are many different types of software and procedures you can use to protect your physical devices and network.

  • Antivirus and malware detection programs can be installed to constantly monitor your computer for threats. They can proactively catch things before they have a chance to infect your system and can aid in detection and removal of threats already installed.
  • Spam filters can monitoring incoming emails and catch phishing and malware attempts before they reach your inbox.
  • Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) and Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) can help detect rogue devices on other network breaches before they have a chance to cause problems.
  • Utilize network segmentation to classify and categorize your assets, data and personal into specific groups, then restrict access to those groups to only essential users. This ensures that if one device or group becomes compromised, it will not be able to exploit your entire system.
  • Additionally, firewalls can be used to filter traffic between different parts of your network or between a network and the internet. Reducing the number of pathways into your network and placing safety protocols on the ones that do exist makes it much more difficult for a threat to enter your system.
  • Furthermore, staying on top of network and software updates in essential to this process. Software developers are constantly identifying threats to their systems and created patches and updates to protect their users. Therefore, if you’re running outdated software you are at increased risk of further threats to your system.
  • Even with all of these systems and protocols in place, your system still needs constant monitoring to detect potential issues or intrusions as soon as possible. Keep ahead of the curve with 24 hour a day monitoring and management.

191 days: The average length of time it takes for organizations to identify a data breach.

TechBeacon

Data protection

Data is the lifeblood of any business. All of the steps above ultimately work to protect your data. However there are additional things you can do to ensure data integrity.

  • Encrypt your data. Data encryption is one of the most popular security methods because it scrambles your data  into a code that only users with the key are able to access and read.
  • Backup your data. Frequent backups ensure that if something happens you’ll have access to the most recent versions of your data. The security of your data backups is also important. Consider off-site or cloud storage options to keep your backups separate from the rest of your network in the case of a breach.

Education and training

As good as all of the above measure are, the greatest risk or asset to your business is the people who work there. Properly trained they can add an extra layer of protection, but without training, they can be your biggest threat.

  • Have strong security policies in place to provide employees with guidance on how to handle systems and situations.
  • Follow password best-practices: use strong passwords, always change default passwords, and use multifactor authentication.
  • Provide training on how to identify phishing and spam attempts. Also consider a mock phishing attack to expose holes in your system.
  • Train employees on smart internet browsing practices.
  • Have a process for employees to report suspicious activity.
  • Don’t just train employees once and call it good. Provide frequent and updated trainings to keep security issues in the forefront of your employees minds.

Hand typing in laptop

3. Have a recovery plan

Even with all of of these steps in place, you must stay vigilant. Hackers and cybercriminals are constantly creating new ways to carry out attacks. Should the worst happen, having a recovering plan in place is key to minimizing damage your business.

A good recovery plan should include:

  1. Identify and analyze potential threats and create an action response plan. You may need multiple recovery plans because you would not respond to a data breach the same way a natural disaster.
  2. Define who in your organization is key to response actions. Make sure they know their role and identify backup personnel in the event they are not available.
  3. Create a communication plan. Both for how you will communication internally with staff, as well as externally with your clients and the public.
  4. Finally, test your plan.

Cyber insurance is another option that could provide your business with assistance during the recovery period. It won’t prevent problems from occurring, but it can cover direct losses or protect you from claims by third parties.

With so much information available, make sure you’re working with our experts in the field of cybersecurity. Don’t leave the security of your business up to chance. Contact our cybersecurity experts today.