Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Best Practices for Safeguarding Your Business
As businesses face increasing cyber threats that risk destabilizing their operations, we all need to take lessons from high-profile threat incidents like the 23andMe data breach or MGM resort hack,
Maintaining strong cybersecurity is more than just installing the right tools and technology or making the right decisions. We can’t just “set it and forget it.” Instead, to truly protect our data, we must see preserving our digital safety as an ongoing process.
That's why this year's theme for Cybersecurity Awareness Month is so critical. Every October, people worldwide work to raise awareness about the importance of staying safe online. In 2023, "Step up your cyber fitness" is a call to action to make security a shared responsibility that we work on strengthening daily.
When it comes to our health, experts tell us to visit the gym regularly to maintain our muscles. Similarly, we need to regularly improve our online safety knowledge and implement new security measures, so we're strong enough to address the threats we might encounter.
Here, we'll discuss actionable steps you can take this Cybersecurity Awareness Month and beyond to remain safe while leveraging the positive benefits of operating digitally. You’ll learn about the cybersecurity best practices you can incorporate to help your business stay afloat and thriving - despite any threat that comes your way.
A data breach can negatively impact everyone: individuals, our companies, and our entire business ecosystem.
Financially, businesses typically need to spend significant money recovering their lost data and restoring their system after a cyber attack. Publicly traded companies may see their stock prices decline. And in many cases, companies may have to compensate customers after a data breach - like in the case of the recent LifeLabs class-action lawsuit settlement.
If the hack disrupts their operations, a business will lose critical revenue in the immediate term when they can't engage in revenue-generating activities and, in the long term, from a decrease in customer trust.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals have developed multiple sophisticated tactics. If businesses stand a chance of defending themselves, they need to understand how threats manifest.
An Ontario man was recently charged with using a spear phishing scam to allegedly defraud a Toronto-based profit organization that supports homeless people. The non-profit had received falsified invoices from a previous contractor whose business email had been compromised.
Phishing is among the most well-known of cybercriminal techniques. Typically, a hacker will pose as a trusted business, tricking the user through social engineering to disclose sensitive data - like banking information or login credentials. They often use emotional appeals in text-based communications, like email and social media, encouraging people to take urgent action without doing their due diligence.
Valve, a store on the video game service Steam, recently stamped out a malware attack. In their case, bad actors compromised the accounts of several game developers, infecting their games with a virus that spread to users as they installed game updates.
With this threat, criminals will attempt to infiltrate your IT infrastructure to install malicious software. Hackers use malware for financial gain and damage, disrupting a target's data or operating systems. They will deploy the program using infected email attachments, software downloads, websites, or USB drives.
A form of malware, ransomware attacks are increasingly becoming a regular occurrence for many businesses and organizations. In these cases, the hacker will install malicious software that holds their target's systems hostage, requiring them to provide vast amounts of money to restore operations.
The recent hack at The Weather Network is a perfect example. In that case, the hackers prevented users from accessing the company's critical features and forecast data. However, the business opted to work with cybersecurity experts to "overcome" the attack rather than pay the ransom.
Distributed Denial of Service
With a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, cyber criminals overwhelm a website with excessive traffic volume, disrupting customer operations. Google and Amazon both encountered a DDoS attack this year - impacting the quality of search results on their platforms. In response, they urged businesses worldwide to upgrade their servers to help avoid this experience by plugging a vulnerability.
Best Practices for Safeguarding Your Business
The suggestion from major tech companies to upgrade our servers is just one example of a tactic your organization can use to bolster your security. To run a successful and resilient business, you must prioritize building a robust security strategy with a wide range of constantly evolving tactics. You'll be likelier to protect your data and minimize any negative impacts from encountering a cybersecurity threat.
Your team can play a huge role in mitigating cyber threats that come from human error. Regular education will give your staff the knowledge and skills to identify and address risk. Keep them informed about the latest hacking techniques and empower them to keep vigilance while navigating digital spaces.
Ensure effective password management.
Credentials provide the key to your critical data, so hackers often exploit them when executing an attack. Make sure that your team uses strong passwords that are unique to each account. But above all else, ensure they update them regularly!
Using a password manager can also help. They offer advanced encryption to make passwords harder to guess and compromise.
Execute regular data backups.
Despite your best intentions, a data breach or disaster is likely inevitable. Creating an effective disaster recovery plan will ensure that your critical information is always available and your operations continue to run as smoothly as possible. With data backups, you can always restore your data if needed - minimizing any prolonged downtime.
Implement routine software updates.
An outdated system can give hackers the ammunition they need to infiltrate your system. So, keeping all of your software and infrastructure updated is critical to patch up vulnerabilities. Therefore, the onset of offering weaknesses for cybercriminals to exploit and create entry points to your data is avoided.
Enhance identity verification with Multi-Factor Authentication.
Beyond strong passwords, adding extra layers of protection is critical to preventing a hacker from compromising your online accounts. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) makes it much harder for someone to gain access without authorization. Even if a cybercriminal had your password, they would need your device to complete the login process. MFA is typically quick and easy to set up, and it's a simple way to start strengthening your cybersecurity within minutes.
Incorporate secure network practices.
Your network can be critical in defending your organization from a cyber attack. Encrypted communications and a Virtual Private Network can help you keep your data confidential and intact, even if it is intercepted. This is especially true if your employees work remotely, as encouraging them to use a secure Wi-Fi protocol like WPA3 ensures their transmitted information between a router and device is encrypted.
Prioritize your organization’s safety. As you navigate cybersecurity challenges, discover insightful recommendations in our guide to avoid the seven common business cybersecurity mistakes. Knowledge is power; arm yourself today.
Creating a Cybersecurity Culture
These cybersecurity best practices are critical for tackling your cyber safety holistically. What's most important is fostering an all-encompassing security-focused mindset within your organization's team.
You must ensure that everyone involved in your organization behaves in ways that protect your data. Every team member should feel collectively responsible for defending your critical assets.
What does creating a cybersecurity culture look like? You should encourage your employees to openly communicate about potential security threats — and provide the infrastructure to make that easy. Employees should receive recognition and rewards for engaging in cybersecurity-conscious behaviour.
Most importantly, your organization must regularly review and update your cybersecurity policies. Your approach to risk cannot remain static — it must adapt to new trends and events that can change your risk landscape.
Build a Cyber-Resilient Business With Bulletproof IT
If your company wants to prevent and mitigate any threats before they cause damage to your operations, you need to prioritize taking proactive and strategic security measures. Planning for the worst can help you identify weaknesses in your cybersecurity defense before a problem arises. Staying one step ahead also enables you to resolve any issues quickly and effectively if they do happen.
Unfortunately, no business can avoid cyber threats in our digitally connected world. But when we invest in our cybersecurity, we can leverage the benefits of digital technology and continue to thrive in our efficiency and success.
When you partner with Bulletproof IT for our security solutions, our experienced team will implement innovative and evidence-based tactics to protect your data. From disaster recovery and network security to intrusion management and vulnerability scanning, contact us today to discuss how we can help you build a cyber-resilient business.
As businesses face increasing cyber threats that risk destabilizing their operations, we all need to take lessons from high-profile threat incidents like the 23andMe data breach or MGM resort hack, Maintaining strong cybersecurity is more than just installing the right tools and technology or making the right decisions. We can’t just “set it and forget […]
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