Cybercrime continues to pose a significant threat to businesses of all sizes. Whether you’re an end user, security expert, or executive, everyone has a role to play in safeguarding their organizations from these malicious actors.
The stark reality is that a single security breach can cause irreparable damage to your business’s reputation and finances. That’s why essentially, you understand the cybersecurity best practices to prevent these attacks, minimize their impact, and ensure a safer and more secure company. Here, we share essential practices for security professionals and tips that every employee should know.
Things to focus on in 2023
With cybersecurity risks on the rise, organizations must prioritize security measures and risk management. Gartner reports that global spending on security and risk management is predicted to increase by 11.3% in 2023 compared to 2022. In light of this trend, there are four key areas that you should focus on in 2023.
1. Increased teleworking
As remote work continues to be a trend, organizations face increased risks due to the lack of visibility and control over employees. Remote environments lie outside of the organization’s perimeter, making it harder to secure them. A hybrid work environment can also create potential risks and increase the possibility of human error leading to a security breach.
To manage this risk, you must implement policies and procedures to support secure remote access. Steps such as multi-factor authentication and endpoint protection can help protect against potential attacks.
2. Shift to the cloud
The growing trend toward cloud computing is predicted to continue, with over 50% of enterprise IT spending expected to shift to the cloud by 2025. However, securing cloud infrastructure can be challenging owing to the complexity of the environments and the shared responsibilities between clients and cloud service providers.
To reduce the risks associated with cloud computing, you should consider implementing a security-first approach when migrating to the cloud. This includes conducting due diligence when selecting cloud service providers, establishing a shared security responsibility model, and implementing key security controls like encryption and access controls.
3. Supply chain interactions
The supply chain is a common point of cybersecurity failure, with third parties potentially having access to your organization’s infrastructure. As the number of third-party interactions increases, the risk of cyber attacks also increases.
To secure the supply chain, organizations must establish security requirements for their suppliers and vendors. For example, you can conduct security assessments and audits, ensure that suppliers adopt security best practices, and monitor third-party access to their systems.
4. IoT and OT convergence
The convergence of IT and operational technology (OT) along with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) devices creates potential entry points for cyber attackers. With the security measures for these devices still developing, IT systems may be vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
To manage this risk, you’re recommended to implement robust security measures for their IoT and OT environments. Consider authentication, encryption, and network segmentation to reduce the attack surface.
5 cybersecurity trends to watch out for this year
As technology continues to advance, cybersecurity threats grow in sophistication and scale, resulting in new challenges that organizations must face to protect their infrastructure. Here are four cybersecurity trends that you should focus on this year.
1. Developing cloud security
The cloud computing industry has seen rapid growth in recent years, leading to an increased demand for cloud security. Unfortunately, this growth has outpaced cybersecurity, which results in poorly secured remote work environments and cloud vulnerabilities. In response, the cloud security sector is making significant strides to advance fast. According to Gartner, the cloud security sector will experience strong growth in 2023–2024.
2. Leveraging zero trust
Virtual private networks (VPNs) have long been used as a secure means of remote access. However, VPNs present scalability challenges and cybersecurity vulnerabilities in modern hybrid environments. Implementing a zero-trust approach is becoming increasingly popular as it is both secure and scalable. The US government has mandated government organizations to meet zero-trust principles by the end of the 2024 fiscal year.
3. Augmenting supply chain infrastructure
In 2023, you can expect cybersecurity specialists to focus on developing new ways to protect supply chains and existing methods of cyber supply chain risk management. This is primarily due to recent state-driven cyber attacks that affect the global supply chain. For example, Russia targeted technology involved in critical Ukrainian infrastructure in February 2022. Gartner projects that attacks on software supply chains will rise significantly, with 45% of organizations expected to experience such attacks by 2025, three times as many as in 2021.
4. Stricter requirements for cybersecurity compliance
Governments worldwide are stepping up efforts to secure their citizen’s personal data through the implementation of modern privacy regulations. 65% of the global population is predicted to get their personal data covered under modern privacy regulations in 2023, an increase from 10% in 2020. Five US states plan on putting new data privacy laws in motion in 2023. Importantly, you keep abreast of updates to cybersecurity regulations, standards, and laws to remain compliant and protect your business’s data.
5. More threat detection and response tools
Promptly detecting suspicious user activity in an organization’s infrastructure is critical to handling a cyber attack efficiently. To achieve this, threat detection and response solutions prove useful. Cloud-based detection and response tools will particularly rise in demand in the coming years, according to Gartner.
Cybersecurity best practices for security professionals
As a security professional, it is significant to stay up to date with the latest cybersecurity best practices. These practices help keep your organization safe from cyber threats, which can cause significant financial and reputational damage.
1. Update security policies
Outdated security policies can leave your organization vulnerable to cyber threats. Crucially, you review and update your security policies regularly, incorporating the latest technologies and best practices such as zero-trust architectures. Updating policies should be followed by training all employees about new security measures and practices.
2. Require strong authentication for any user
Compromised user accounts are a common method of cyber attacks. Implementing multi-factor authentication – requiring a smart card with a PIN or biometric verification, can help protect against attacks. Password management and encryption also reduce the risk of account compromise.
3. Refresh your network security controls
Periodically review the effectiveness of your firewall and VPN gateways, which helps protect your organization from security breaches. Also, consider adopting SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) or other cloud-based security solutions to enhance your network security controls.
4. Use a secure file-sharing solution to encrypt data
Secure file-sharing solutions allow you to exchange confidential information without worrying about data breaches. These solutions automatically encrypt sensitive files, ensuring that only authorized users have access to them.
5. Prepare for compromises
Security breaches and other security incidents are inevitable. Preparedness and early detection are crucial to minimize harm. Educating employees on the potential signs of incidents and fostering a culture of honesty will equip your organization to respond quickly and effectively to a security breach.
6. Keep your security knowledge current
Keep up to date with the latest changes in your security area with annual training or online courses. This helps create awareness of a holistic approach to security that includes risk assessment, cyber threats, and zero-trust architectures.
7. Increase employee awareness of security practices
Creating a broader understanding of security and encouraging change in culture toward the importance of security practices can protect the organization from security breaches. You should give your employees the necessary tools and knowledge to defend your organization actively.
8. Keep software and hardware up-to-date
Use the latest version of the software that supports security upgrades and incorporates the latest security features. It is also essential to invest in up-to-date computer hardware that is compatible with the latest software updates.
9. Use anti-virus and anti-malware
Undeniably, anti-virus and anti-malware software and tools will help protect your computer against vulnerable attacks.
10. Employ a “White Hat” hacker
White Hat hackers can help find risks that previously went unnoticed. In other words, it identifies and patches security flaws before they can be exploited.
11. Secure your perimeter and IoT connections
Organizations should consider protecting their border routers and adopt the zero-trust model in the workplace. This requires continuous authentication for all devices to access the network.
12. Control access to sensitive data
Using the principle of least privilege (i.e., providing employees the fewest access rights possible and elevating privileges only when needed) should protect sensitive data.
13. Use multi-factor authentication
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) improves security. With it, cyber attackers have difficulty accessing sensitive data. Besides, we hope you know that MFA is mandated by practically any cybersecurity requirements, for instance, SWIFT Customer Security Programme (CSP) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Big tech companies such as Google push their users to employ MFA.
14. Conduct regular cybersecurity audits
Conducting cybersecurity audits assists in detecting and addressing vulnerabilities and compliance gaps. This is because you can collect various sources of data to get comprehensive insights.
Cybersecurity best practices for employees
Cybercriminals use various tactics to gain access to sensitive information to exploit vulnerabilities in digital systems. As an employee, you can play a crucial role in keeping your company’s digital assets safe. Here are some useful cybersecurity tips to keep in mind:
1. Be skeptical
The first line of defense against cybersecurity threats is to be skeptical of all incoming communications that you receive. Be cautious about unsolicited emails, phone calls, text messages, and other communication forms that ask for personal information or sensitive data.
Always do a sanity check before clicking on an attachment or a link. Links can be deceitful as they may lead you to malicious websites. Before opening an unknown link, ensure that you hover your cursor over it to check where it leads. Hovering over a link displays the URL associated with that link, which allows you to verify whether the link is safe to click.
Besides, verify the legitimacy of the sender and the request by contacting them through a phone call or email to confirm if they have sent the message. By doing so, you can avoid falling prey to phishing scams and other malicious activities.
2. Use private networks
Connecting to public Wi-Fi networks can pose significant cybersecurity risks. When accessing the internet, prioritize using private networks, for example, your home Wi-Fi and a VPN, over public Wi-Fi networks. Private networks are more secure as they employ additional layers of security, such as firewalls and routers, to protect your device from cyberattacks.
3. Use a password manager
Using the same password for various sites is not a safe practice. Adopt a password manager that generates strong and unique passwords for each site that you use. It eliminates the need to memorize different passwords for various websites, keeping your digital accounts secure. Keep the password manager’s password itself strong and use multi-factor authentication for an extra layer of security.
4. Be prepared
Cybersecurity threats can still breach your system, even with exceptional protection. Ensure that you keep your security software, anti-malware, and OS updated. Back up your data routinely in a secure location. In case of a data breach or cyberattack, your data will still be safe.
5. Disable Bluetooth when unused
Hackers use Bluetooth’s vulnerability to access your data. Disable Bluetooth when not in use to prevent hackers from gaining access to your data.
6. Double-check for HTTPS on websites
When shopping online or entering personal information, look for HTTPS in the website URL, which ensures a secure connection. Avoid giving away any personal or financial information on unsecured websites.
7. Don’t store information in non-secure places
Ensure that you do not save or store any crucial information in non-secured folders. Secure folders and online storage like Google Drive are good places to store sensitive information.
8. Scan external devices for viruses
Viruses can spread via external devices like USB drives and SD cards. Run a virus scan on any external devices before accessing and using them.
1. Why is cyber security important?
With increasing scandals of data breaches from giants like Facebook and Google, it’s clear that securing personal and organizational data is crucial. Data breaches can result in attackers stealing sensitive information, including bank details, credit card information, and confidential company data. It’s essential to recognize the significance of cybersecurity and its effects in today’s world.
2. Should I avoid the online use of debit cards?
Yes. One of the most practical steps you can take toward cybersecurity is avoiding online transactions using debit cards or any payment method connected to your bank account directly. Instead, consider using payment methods such as credit cards and PayPal that offer additional protection to your bank accounts.
Yes. Social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn allow us to reconnect and stay in touch with friends and family. However, it’s equally essential to be cautious about the information we share online. Hackers use social media profiles to gain information about users, leading to data breaches. Crucially, you share only a limited amount of information publicly, and be cautious before sharing personal information online.
In the year 2023, experts predict that cybersecurity compliance requirements, threat detection, and response tools, cloud security, and the increasing use of the zero-trust model will continue to expand. To manage new risks associated with the cloud, models for working remotely, OT and IoT, and supply chains, it’s important to take cybersecurity best practices. The tips discussed above can help keep you safe from cyber-attacks.