The past few months have been characterized by a paradigm shift in how organizations accomplish tasks with the persistent move to digital and cloud. Given the surging digital data and blurring perimeters, cyberattacks have multiplied.
In 2021, every organization encountered 270 cyber-risk incidents on average – a 31% rise over 2020. Such numbers reveal that opportunistic attackers have welcomed that shift and exploited the enterprise security loopholes.
Cyber intrusions pose financial, operational, strategic, and reputational damage for businesses, all of which come at enormous costs. This has pushed existing measures out of order, meaning that companies need to rewrite and strengthen their cyber security playbook.
Cyber security involves technologies, processes, and practices that keep various digital components, networks, data, and computer systems safe from unauthorized online access or misuse of authorized assets. The global spend on cyber security defense measures increased 1.5X from 2017 through 2021.
Cybercrimes include stealing classified information, extorting money, and using malicious software. In a world wherein more and more business operations are becoming heavily integrated into technology, the need for a future-ready cyber security toolkit cannot be stressed enough.
Types of Cyber Security
Here are the key cyber security sub-domains:
Network security shields enterprises’ internal system controls as well as the hardware and software connected to the corporate network infrastructure. Organizations’ increasingly complex networks produce new exposures across users, data, applications, and devices. Network security tools fill potential loopholes, thus, avoiding downtime and regulatory backlash. Firewalls, intrusion detection systems (IDS), and antivirus software are some ways to strengthen network security.
Information security – or InfoSec – prevents critical business data from getting modified, disclosed, or destructed, whether accidentally or maliciously. It protects the data in transit or when stored in connected devices.
InfoSec rests on three objectives confidentiality, integrity, and availability, or CIA, and protects both digital and physical data in any form. To maintain data security, companies can run routine system backups, use encryption, and create hard-to-crack passwords.
Application security (AppSec) keeps vulnerabilities at bay that may crop up due to flaws during and after application development. AppSec is one of the most critical cyber security categories as the application layer is still the front door for data breaches.
Even if developers are only launching commercial off-the-shelf applications, they must constantly ensure that the apps stay safe throughout their lifecycle. Encryption, vulnerability analyses, and penetration testing can help achieve this.
New trends amidst COVID-19, such as mobile and hybrid working and bring your own device (BYOD), have posed additional complexities and risks for businesses. Endpoint security safeguards all the devices connected to enterprise networks, including smartphones, PCs, tablets, and servers, from various online intrusions. Common endpoint security solutions include anti-phishing email scanners, virtual private networks (VPN), and antivirus software.
Cloud security involves policies, processes, and technical controls to deal with risks (external and internal) associated with cloud computing environments. It helps eliminate any risks related to on-premises attacks by keeping a constant eye on the data and applications stored in the cloud. For foolproof cloud security, organizations must enable multifactor authentication (MFA) and security logs, encrypt their data, and double-check their compliance requisites.
As cloud service providers host third-party services, data, and applications on their servers, they define the security protocols and features. However, clients are also partly responsible and must configure and leverage their cloud services safely and adequately.
9 Cyber Security Best Practices
While today’s cyber attackers are advancing in tech-savviness, it is not all gloom and doom for organizations when it comes to safeguarding critical assets from digital intrusions. They can and must implement various practices to avoid making it to the "the next breach" headline.
Strong Password Policy
Cyberthieves utilize powerful algorithms, such as brute-forcing, to trespass into corporate accounts by rapidly guessing thousands of possible passwords. The more complex the password, the lesser the possibilities of a digital breach.
Business owners must set passwords that are, for instance, at least 10-15 characters long, are a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, and have at least one number and one special character.
They should set a different password for every enterprise website, account, or application. While this might not seem viable, a password manager can help, which encrypts and stores all the passwords, granting easy access across web-browsing devices.
Besides, companies should update passwords at regular intervals – perhaps once or twice a month.
Every sector is unique per se, hence focusing on compliance and meeting all the standard regulations is not enough to protect organizations’ sensitive information. Decision-makers must consider three crucial things when it comes to cyber threat analysis:
- Identify the current status of cyber security across the enterprise
- Identify the valuable assets
- Manage security strategy accurately
Automated Data Backup and Recovery
When cyber attackers encroach on companies’ internal systems, the entire business becomes highly susceptible to server crashes, data loss, or other technical mishaps.
To avoid this, corporate executives must invest in automated remote backup and recovery. They can utilize the cloud to create copies of their crucial data on a server and host it on a remote site. If the systems get breached, managers can retrieve the data.
VPNs and MFAs
Over 90% of web application attacks are performed using weak or stolen user credentials. Enabling end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication (2FA), and MFAs will add another defense layer against these cybercrimes. Adding more secure authentication methods makes it significantly more difficult for attackers to penetrate this additional layer of security.
For instance, if an employee logs in from an unmanaged device on an unknown network, they will receive email verification, text verification, or time-based security codes to crack the extra security layer.
Additionally, running a business on an unsafe Wi-Fi network offers a playing ground for cyber thieves. While several enterprise networks are secure, today’s workforces now go beyond the cubicles, exposing organizations to unsafe networks. To deal with this, investing in a strong VPN is critical. Using the private tunnels of VPNs enables companies to operate a mobile workforce while maintaining their cyber security.
Patches and Updates
With malicious players continuously coming up with innovative methods – looking for new weak points – keeping the Internet-connected systems and software optimized would be a wise decision.
The best anti-malware and antivirus programs are only as efficient as their latest patches. So, to protect the network fabric, organizations must ensure that their software and hardware are in optimum health with up-to-date security features and updates.
Whenever any business system connects to the Internet, it can pave the way for opportunistic attackers to attack. Ensuring that access to critical resources is restricted to only essential employees is the best way to mitigate these risks. To accomplish this, businesses must deploy role-based access control (RBAC), allowing only authorized users to access specific data. Besides, they must impose “separation of duties” and “least privilege” concepts to avoid collusion and restrict access permits whenever required to accomplish tasks.
Despite the effectiveness of businesses’ cyber security strategy, eventually, the employees will effectively be the first and last line of defense. More than 85% of cyber-risk incidents happen due to some degree of human error. As such, regularly educating the workforce about the latest threats, especially phishing attacks that trick employees into disclosing login credentials and personal details, is paramount.
Often, people are the weakest link in successful cybercrimes. Therefore, a well-informed employee will be better-placed to reduce their company’s attack surface dramatically.
Cyber Security Framework
A well-defined cyber security policy is important, especially as hybrid work has gained prominence. It enables employees and security professionals to be on the same side ensuring efficient workflow. Here are some suggestions for what a centralized cyber security policy should address:
- Restrictions on data access from personal devices
- How to escalate issues about a possible cyber attack
- An incident response plan that helps employees get back to work fast
- Enterprise-issued devise usage for activities apart from work
In a bid to achieve a water-proof security posture, organizations must follow industry standards to ensure the deployment of the best frameworks, practices, and repeatable processes. Moreover, as achieving compliance is not a one-time affair, business leaders must include it in their ongoing monitoring efforts to maintain compliance. Some examples of compliance standards are ISO27001, HIPAA, and PCI.
Cyber perils are the topmost concern becoming alarmingly common. Not only the incumbents but even digital attacks on small businesses are rising as well. Moreover, the threat of data breaches, ransomware attacks, or at-scale IT outages itches organizations even more than natural disasters, supply chain disruptions, or the public-health crisis.
Implementing proper cyber security measures along with the active involvement of employees in the fight against cybercrimes contribute to sound enterprise security infrastructure.
What is more, investing in a cyber security strategy helps decision-makers build trust with their customers. It promotes transparency and curtails friction as customers become advocates for their brand.