Cybersecurity is a word that’s thrown around a lot but rarely clearly defined. In this article, we’ve compiled a guide to cybersecurity for business.
What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity refers to measures to protect computers, servers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, and data against unauthorized access, theft, or malicious attacks.
Cybersecurity is particularly important for businesses. Without a cybersecurity program or plan in place, your organization is vulnerable to data breach campaigns.
The risk of a cyberattack
Businesses are prime targets for a cyber criminal. According to the FBI’s 2020 Internet Crime Report, there was an increase of more than 300,000 complaints from 2019, and reported losses exceeded $4.2 billion
Tech-related disruptions can be a major drain on your business, so many organizations try to prevent downtime with top-tier equipment, a speedy network, and upgrading where they can. But even with all of these improvements, a cyberattack can bring work to a screeching halt.
Cyber threats are constantly changing, and it can be exhausting trying to keep up. Instead of focusing on revenue-generating activities, you’re stuck trying to stay on top of the current cybersecurity threats. And as your business grows, so do the vulnerable entry points.
Businesses can no longer solely rely on out-of-the-box cybersecurity solutions like antivirus software and firewalls, as many cybercriminals are learning to work around conventional cyber defenses.
Types of cyberattacks
The types of cyberattacks are constantly changing but these are three of the most visible categories.
- Malware is an umbrella term for malicious software, including viruses, worms, and Trojans, and many use the terms malware and virus interchangeably.
- Ransomware attacks are exactly what it sounds like: software that denies you access to your files or computer until you pay a ransom.
- A phishing attack involves deceiving recipients into sharing sensitive information.
You should know the signs of a cyberattack. Check out this post for tips on spotting a cyberattack.
Implementing a cybersecurity plan
Cybersecurity can be overwhelming. Without a dedicated IT staff to oversee everyday threats, it can seem impossible to stay protective. And even with an in-house IT staff, they are often busy addressing other issues and questions, leaving cybersecurity to take a backseat. There are a couple of steps you can take to help protect your business:
- Require strong credentials. Complex passwords are the basis of good cybersecurity practices. While it can be difficult to remember them, a password manager such as LastPass can help organize login credentials.
- Control and monitor employee activity. Only give access to important data to authorized employees and prohibit data from sharing outside the organization.
- Know your network. Ensure that all devices accessing company information are under company management.
- Download patches and updates regularly. An up-to-date computer is harder for criminals to access.
- Consider enlisting a security expert. Staying on top of cyberthreats is a full-time job. Having an expert in your corner can save you time and money.
- Have a reporting system. A system for reporting suspicious activity and emails will allow employees to easily report potential threats.
Cybersecurity best practices
It may be impossible to be completely safe from cyberattacks, but there are steps your business can implement to boost cybersecurity.
At the very least, your business should have the following in place:
- Antivirus software. Anti-malware software is a must for both personal and professional devices. Without an antivirus software, your system is completely vulnerable
- Backups. Ensuring your information is housed safely is essential for businesses. This can be accomplished through a local appliance, managed providers, or data centers that can host your data.
- Multi-factor authentication. This involves the use of a code or app authentication in addition to password login through an approved device, such as a person’s smartphone.
- Updates and patches. Hardware that is up-to-date and under warranty is a more difficult target. The update notifications you receive on your devices aren't always just to make your device or application run more efficiently. Often, they contain changes in response to the ever-changing landscape of cyberthreats.
As mentioned earlier, cybercriminals are learning ways to work around the basics of cybersecurity. Most businesses need more robust tools than the basics to remain secure.
Employees are often the largest cybersecurity risk for an organization. Employee security risks are often due to negligence, apathy, and a lack of knowledge. The most common, and dangerous, mistakes employees make in cybersecurity are
- Using weak passwords.
- Using unapproved personal devices.
- Sending emails with sensitive data to the wrong recipients.
- Accessing free WiFi Hotspots for work.
- Sharing sensitive data with colleagues using unsecured messengers.
- Unauthorized application installation.
- Not backing up critical data.
It may not be malicious in nature, but there is always the risk of human error when it comes to cybersecurity. Employees can be your weakest link or first line of defense when it comes to data security. During onboarding with Anteris we provide training for employees and continuing education throughout your partnership. Reminders are necessary to help employees remember and employ best practices.
Next steps in the road
Once you have the basics in place, it's time to start considering the next steps to build out your organization's cybersecurity. These steps can give you a clearer picture of your organization's network, and the more you can see, the better off you are.
Think of it like this: the basics are like having your driving lights on at night. These next steps are like turning on your brights so you can see better, and therefore, proceed more safely.
- Mobile device management. If you’re giving your employees cell phones for work use, you need a mobile device policy to protect your data in the event an employee’s phone is lost or stolen. More importantly, you can control what these mobile devices can do: what can be accessed, the apps that can be downloaded, purchases made, etc. Basically, the entire device can be controlled, letting you dictate what is company use and what is not.
- Data loss prevention. This is monitoring and protecting sensitive information to ensure it does not leave its designated area, and that all data is accounted for and where it ought to be.
- Having a disaster recovery plan. Even with the best plans, there is no way to completely guarantee against cyberattacks. It is essential to have a disaster recovery plan in the event of a cyber attack and to test it regularly.
- Encryption. Encryption isn't just limited to email. This is making sure that the websites being visited are secure (encrypted websites will use HTTPS), your data at rest is secure (for example, if someone steals an encrypted hard drive, they still can't access the data even though the other security measures have been removed), and your data in transit is protected (this can be email, entering information on websites, etc.).
- Remote VPN. Remote virtual private network (VPN) allows you to access your company's resources that live behind something, like a firewall, even when you are not in the office. This can be particularly important as more people are working outside the office and make need to connect to a public WiFi.
If you have Microsoft 365, there are also additional security steps you can—and should—take.
- Advanced threat protection. This is an add-on to Office 365 that detects suspicious activity and prevents malicious attacks from hitting your network.
- MFA. In addition to the MFA option listed above, Microsoft 365 has it's own MFA that can, and should, be enabled.
- Multi-Geo. This allows you to provision and store data at rest in the data locations that you've chosen to meet data residency requirements while allowing your workforce to work in other locations.
Going a step further
You may already be doing everything we've already discussed and that's great. There are more advanced steps you can take to enhance your cybersecurity. These could be
- Third-party risk assessment.
- Third-party penetration testing.
- Threat hunting.
How Anteris can help
At Anteris, we make security a top priority. As cybersecurity professionals, our security services support your business and protect your data from outside threats through services such as Active Dark Web monitoring.
We pride ourselves on being lifelong learners. Being a security expert doesn't mean that someone has learned everything they need to know about cybersecurity. That's impossible. It's always changing. We know that and recognize that cybersecurity is an ever-evolving process to assess, align, and act, and keep moving forward as cybersecurity changes.
Network security isn't a one size fits all thing. As a strategic managed IT services provider, we will strategize and implement the technology that will best protect your organization. Every business is different, and cybersecurity plans will reflect that. We're here to help you assess where you are now and work with you to figure out what your next move is, whether it's starting with the basics or building out a more robust plan.
We believe that education is the key to the prevention of all types of cyberattacks, and work with our Clients to provide ongoing education to make employees aware of the security dangers and provide them with the knowledge of the best practices for protecting against cyber threats.
While there is no guaranteed protection against threat, we also have best practices for recovery in the event of a security breach. Schedule an appointment with us to find out how we make technology freeing (and safe), not frustrating.