Cybersecurity Best Practices

Computer screen with system hacked message where cybersecurity best practices could avoid the hack
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Implementing cybersecurity best practices can go a long way toward deflecting cyber-attacks. And let’s face it, cyber-attacks won’t be eroding any time soon.

Experts predict a cyber incident will occur every 11 seconds this year. That’s nearly double the amount in 2019 when it was 19 seconds. For even more perspective, note that a cyber-attack happened every 40 seconds in 2016.

Unfortunately, 20% of organizations worldwide lack planning for protection against a cyber event, according to researchers at Atlas VPN. Last year, cyber incidents totaled $945 billion in losses. Companies spent, however, $145 billion on cybersecurity.

One of the best places to start is recognizing your organization isn’t immune to a cyber-attack. But apart from general awareness of the risks, there are cybersecurity best practices you should follow.

Best Practices Start with a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

First, conduct an assessment to identify and prioritize IT risks. It should include the following activities:

  • Identify cybersecurity risks and how they are evaluated and categorized.
  • Evaluate the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of IT systems.
  • Document how existing controls address identified risks.
  • Determine risk mitigation.
  • Facilitate the revision of controls.

The plan must remain current to account for any changes to your IT infrastructure or business operations.

Second, consider implementing a cybersecurity framework. Most enterprise companies (90%) have adopted a cybersecurity framework. Smaller companies with 1,000 or fewer employees do so at a 77% rate. In addition, many businesses (44%) even use more than one framework.

The most popular cybersecurity frameworks are PCI DSS (47%), ISO 27001 (35%), CIS Critical Security Controls (32%), and NIST Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Security (29%).

Third, get it in writing. Implement documented information security policies, procedures, guidelines, and standards. Those policies should identify risks and present how to detect and respond to cybersecurity events. In addition, they should offer a recovery solution designed to restore normal operations and services.

7 Cybersecurity Best Practices for Your Network and Devices

Apart from planning and mapping out an appropriate framework, there are several best practices you can deploy relating to your network and devices. Where devices are concerned, it’s essential to consider IoT devices in your plan.

Here are a few cybersecurity best practices to help keep your company safe:

  1. Deploy a Firewall: At a minimum, deploy an external firewall. And keep it patched. Even the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends all SMBs install a firewall. For greater security, you can deploy an internal firewall and ensure remote workers install a firewall. Firewalls prevent endpoint access by controlling connections on a per-app basis, which layers additional security for open network ports.
  2. Implement Multi-Factor Authentication: Always use multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA requires an additional factor like a fingerprint or security, for instance. That extra factor dramatically reduces your chances of a successful cyber-attack.
  3. Deploy Zero Trust Security: More than 80% of cyber-attacks relate to misuse or credential use within the network. A zero-trust network requires verification from any device or user inside or outside your organization. It also assumes no network edge. Zero-trust security requires real-time tracking to detect, investigate, and remediate intrusions. In addition, network segmentation creates zones protected by a security perimeter. That granularity enables you to guard smaller zones for greater control and effectiveness.
  4. Consider Remote Workers: The pandemic forced organizations to manage a remote workforce. Unfortunately, many were ill-prepared. Developing a remote work cybersecurity policy is paramount. It should start with limiting what employees can access with personal devices. Better still, issue company-owned devices to employees. Policies should also include ensuring home networks are secured and how to notify IT in the event of a possible cyber-attack. You should include a response plan.
  5. Keep Software Current: Patching reduces your chances of a cyber-attack. Ponemon Institute found that 57% of cyber breaches could have been prevented by installing an available patch. Plus, 34% of respondents were aware of a vulnerability before the attack. Automation reduces staff investment and allows for patch installation across multiple vulnerabilities in a controlled fashion.
  6. Do Regular Backups: Back up your data online and offline and automate the process. Equally important, ensure completion by regularly scheduling the operation. Encrypting those backups adds a layer of security. Don’t stop with just backing up data, though. Draft a BCDR plan. It ensures you’ll have a methodology for getting operations back in place quickly.
  7. Insist on Strong Passwords: Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report cited credentials as the primary means through which hackers gain access. Leveraged credentials, for example, account for 61% of cyber breaches. SMBs should require employees to change passwords every 60 to 90 days. Plus, passwords should contain a combination of upper-and-lower-case letters, along with numbers and symbols. Work-related passwords should be kept separate from personal passwords. Unfortunately, 73% of passwords are duplicates, according to Microsoft. A password manager can help create and manage strong, unique passwords for your accounts.

Conduct Cyber Awareness Training

Cyber awareness training is a significant consideration relating to best practices. Verizon determined that 85% of data breaches were associated with a human element. So, it’s essential to educate your staff regarding cybersecurity.

Studies conclude that 28% of employees lack confidence in identifying a phishing email. That leaves the door wide open for cybercriminals. Only 45% of companies, however, provide formal cyber awareness training, according to Mimecast.

Cyber awareness training reduces your chances of a breach, helps ensure compliance, and creates greater awareness. But it’s an often-overlooked item when it comes to implementing cybersecurity best practices.

Talk to a Cybersecurity Company

When it comes to cybersecurity, it’s tough to cover all the bases, especially for a small to mid-sized business. As a result, it pays to consult with a cybersecurity company near you.

IntermixIT provides IT support, including cybersecurity services. We can assist with cybersecurity risk assessment and ensuring your IT infrastructure is virtually risk-free. We’ve been delivering IT solutions to SMBs in Harrisburg, Lancaster, York, and surrounding areas for more than 15 years. Get in touch today.

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