The prevailing digital IT-based business environment is both a boon and bane for organizations. The advantages of going digital, and introducing automation and robotics are many – increased operational efficiencies, better planning, analytics, and healthy bottom lines. On the flip side, there is the spectre of hacking and data breaches to contend with where confidential and classified information is not safe from professional hackers and unscrupulous elements. Therefore, cyber security best practices must be followed meticulously to avoid unwarranted hacking and data breaches.
The exponential rise in the possibility of potential data breaches is a result of severely competitive spaces that businesses function in today. Hacking is seen as a potent tool to access illegally, the internal functioning of competitors. Organizations are realizing now that cyber security measures, strategies and best practices are as important as implementing optimized business practices.
The expenditure on cyber security worldwide proves this point. It was 71.1 billion in 2014 (7.9% over 2013), and 75 billion in 2015 (4.7% from 2014) and has reached 101 billion in 2018. It is common knowledge that malware is a commodity that is publicly available, enabling anybody to become a cyber attacker.
Cyber security professionals today face the grave challenge of protecting the integrity of computing assets that are related to an organization’s network. They have to deploy highly effective cyber security methods to defend these assets against every threat throughout the life cycle of a cyber attack.
Reasons for implementing
cyber security best practices.
- Availability of sophisticated hacking tools – Hackers have access to sophisticated tools for hacking and hence any business website, regardless of how secure it is will be open to cyber attacks. Even Deloitte, the largest
cyber securityconsultant in the world faced a cyber attack in October last year.
- The high cost of a data breach – The average cost of a data breach of a midlevel to large firm is often as high as $25,000. But the real expense is actually much more if damage to reputation and the fall-out of hacked data is to be taken into account.
- Increase in use of IoT devices – Smart devices connected to the Internet like coffee makers and other appliances are increasingly being used in offices to speed up and simplify tasks. But these also provide hackers a way to get into the business. IT security tips for the workplace today includes conducting periodical vulnerability assessments to identify and address cyber risks presented by these assets.
Top Cyber Security Best Practices to Avoid Hacking and Data Breach
One of the primary mistakes that business owners and organizations make is to think that “It won’t happen to me”. You simply cannot take that chance considering that the stakes on your personal and financial reputation and well-being are so high. Keeping computing resources secure is your primary responsibility and by following the tips here, you can remain vigilant and protect others and yourself from imminent cyber attacks.
Exercise Caution about sharing business data – The same caution about sharing business data should be exercised as you do with your personal information like credit card details, social security number. It is critical that your organizational data, sensitive information and intellectual property are not compromised. Simple mistakes like a computer screen with sensitive data in the background of a company publicity photo could jeopardize classified information as potential hackers can then access it easily. Similarly, respect intellectual property rights of others including your competitors. Accidental sharing or using IP or trade secrets of others can get all parties into trouble.
Use strong passwords and authentication – Strong and complex passwords go a long way to prevent cyber attacks. One of the most potent IT security tips for the workplace is this aspect alone. A secure password should be of at least 10 characters and be a mix of letters, numerical, symbols, and lower and upper case letters. These passwords should also be changed on a regular basis. Have strategies in place whereby a password will automatically lapse after some time and a new one has to be created. Take help of password manager software if this exercise is too much for you to remember.
Additionally, have layers of multiple-authentication especially in areas of sensitive nature like data entry and processing and other IT related work. An example is factoring in one extra protective layer like a temporary code sent to a smartphone for logging in.
Have a top-quality Firewall – Having a top-quality firewall is considered to be a key component of all
Be vigilant about insider threats – Why are insider threats considered to be more damaging than external threats? It is because external threats can be lessened using firewalls and following cyber security best practices, but insider threats have access to sensitive data and information and any compromise here can be disastrous for a company. Top cyber security experts therefore advisable to hire a professional to investigate, detect and respond to insider threats.
Keep an eye on employees handling critical data and information and those you think might fall for Internet operated baits. Humans have traditionally been considered to be the weakest link in the chain when structuring fool-proof cyber security methods.
Have a secure Wi-Fi network – Have a Wi-Fi network in your organization that is safe, secure, encrypted and hidden so that it cannot be tampered with. Many employees might be working remotely on public networks which are open to hackers and cyber threats and makes data vulnerable to interception. In such cases, provide a virtual private network or VPN for these employees. A VPN helps to protect data from cyber attacks if employees are working remotely at a site or on a business trip.
However, not all VPNs can be treated as equals and some are safer than others. Make use of a powerful VPN to keep data and information secure even on a public network.
There has been a significant shift in business functioning lately and the concept of Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is becoming more of a rule now than an exception. Many top organizations across the world have adopted this policy and have found it to cut infrastructure costs significantly. However, this poses a great cyber threat, especially when combined with insider threat.
Having a strong and optimized BYOD policy in place is a wise IT tip for the workplace. It has to be ensured that employees with own devices have limited access to sensitive data and information. Apart from being open to hacking, employees with the wrong mindsets and personal devices can cause great damage to the organization and this aspect should be closely tracked by you.
Be sure what you access – Unknown websites often contain malware that will automatically compromise your systems once you visit it. Do not click on emails or attachments that are unsolicited, unexpected and suspicious. Especially, be aware of phishing which is a scam used by cyber identity thieves to trick people into parting with sensitive personal and financial information. Phishers try and coax computer users into opening popup windows and malicious links that have malware and viruses embedded in them. One click can compromise the whole network.
A simple yet one of the most effective cyber security best practices is to never give personal or company information to an email or pop-up page that has not been initiated from your end. It is advisable to deploy email authenticating technology that blocks suspicious emails. Intimation will be sent to you once such a mail has been sent to a quarantine folder from where you can check about its authenticity.
Do not leave devices unattended for any length of time – There is nothing technical to implement here, yet a few simple steps can make a world of difference to your cyber security setup. A critical point in the checklist of IT security tips for the workplace is to give equal weight to the physical security of the devices as much as technical security. It is prudent to lock your laptop, smartphone or tablet so that no one else can use it if left unattended for any length of time. For desktops, shut down the system or lock the screen.
If there is any sensitive information on flash drives or external hard drive, these should be locked too. Have systems in place where desktops connected to the server go into sleep mode after some time of non-use and can be started again after entering a password.
At times, especially for small and medium scale organizations, there is usually no in-house team to take care of software and hardware needs. In such cases, third-party vendors are entrusted with this responsibility. However, when your company’s data confidentiality is at stake, nobody should be explicitly believed in this regard. When you purchase hardware or software from third-party vendors, get experts to ensure that there is nothing malicious or suspicious in the process. Put your trust only on experienced and trusted vendors and before buying from them, verify their client list and get in touch with some of them. You cannot be less than cautious when dealing with cyber security threats.
Following cyber security best practices entails keeping operating systems, security software and web browsers updated with the most modern antivirus and anti-malware protections that can handle the latest threats. Send updates to your employees regularly and make sure that they install these immediately, even on their personal devices.
The focus of cyber threats is almost always on data and hence cyber security methods should include regular data and files backup to get back on rails in case of a data breach or malware attack. Different companies have various policies and rules on where to store data but the general consensus is to do so offline, on an external hard drive or in the cloud.
What are the specific areas that should be focussed on while taking back-up? The U.S Small Business Administration recommends backing up word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files. All data stored in the cloud should be backed up too.
Introduce a bug bounty program – Bug Bounty programs today are quite popular among cyber security professionals and companies across the world are following this practice. Facebook is one of the majors that have this scheme in place. It helps cyber experts to showcase their skills and earn money while helping companies identify bugs and vulnerabilities in their systems. Even if you have a team of cyber professionals working for you, have bug bounty programs for website security.
These are some of the cyber security best practices that you should follow to protect your organization from cyber attacks that are so common today. However, it is always advisable to contact professionals with long years of experience in this field who can strategize cyber security measures for you.
If you want your company to work in a secure environment free from cyber attacks, contact Doynt Technologies at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have the expertise to create optimized cyber security methods regardless of the sector or industry you might be operating in. To know more, give us a call now!