By Raghav Iyer
Organizations today are challenged by an increased exposure to cyber threats. Attackers often target emerging technologies since the new technology is often ill-equipped to handle an attack. Moreover, the internet has become filled with malicious links, Trojans, and viruses.
The pressure to keep up with the new and emerging technologies often coerces organizations to tweak their IT infrastructure. However, this often leads to a compromise of their security posture that makes attacks easier for threat actors. With the surge in online operations, the risk of cyberattacks has increased significantly. A study from cloud services provider Iomart found that large-scale data breaches increased 273 percent in the first quarter of the pandemic, compared to the same period in the previous year.
Staying ahead of the attackers is vital to ensure network security. Here are 10 essential cybersecurity tips that can help you protect your network:
1. Update your software regularly
Keeping crucial software, such as operating system, security applications, etc. updated is imperative. A software update usually involves security patches and bug fixes, and helps address critical vulnerabilities that hackers could use to access your network.
- Always install the latest security updates for your devices.
- Enable automatic system updates.
- Ensure that the automatic security update is enabled in browsers.
- Ensure that the plug-ins used in the browser are up to date.
2. Connect securely
Establishing a secure connection minimizes the possibility of cyber threats. Never connect your devices to a public Wi-Fi without using a virtual private network (VPN). This ensures that the communication between your device and the VPN server is encrypted, thus making it difficult for an attacker to gain access.
3. Use multi-factor authentication
The traditional method of authentication requires you to enter your username and password. With multi-factor authentication, an additional layer of security is added. You are prompted to enter one additional authentication method, such as a unique code, another password, or even a biometric, a unique physical or behavioral characteristic.
4. Beware of social engineering
Social engineering exploits human psychology to gain access rather than using infiltration techniques. A classic example of social engineering is where an attacker poses as someone from the IT department of your organization and tries to collect sensitive details, such as your password, and unique identification numbers. Many attackers consider this method more effective than finding a security vulnerability, as the chances of obtaining relevant, exploitable information is high.
Spear phishing attempts to trick you into revealing confidential, or financial information, your password, or sending money. This social engineering strategy is just one reason why this IT security dictum is emphasized: Never share your password with anyone in the organization.
5. Use antivirus software and a firewall
Antivirus software is one of the most effective methods to prevent malware and other malicious software from entering your devices and compromising your data. A firewall helps keep attackers and external threats at bay by denying entry into the network. It acts as a checkpoint where traffic is screened to identify potential hackers, viruses, and other malicious entities. It is important to note that both antiviruses and firewalls need to be obtained from trusted vendors.
6. Manage passwords efficiently
Password management is essential to secure your devices and prevent them from getting compromised. A caution: although reusing the same password for different accounts makes password management easy, the risk of being attacked increases.
Here are some tips to follow while setting a password:
- Use a user-friendly alpha-numerical password with different cases and unique characters. For instance, using your best friend’s name as your password but replacing letters in the alphabet with special characters such as @,$, etc.
- Never reuse a password.
- Try not to leave hints out in public, such as posting a sticky note on the side of your keyboard, writing down your passwords in your workbook, or providing other “clues” that could help an attacker figure out your password.
- Choose a password that is easy to remember but has at least eight characters.
- Use a password management tool to generate unique passwords while resetting.
- Reset your password and log out of all the active devices before using it.
7. Keep track of digital foot prints
Digital footprints are a unique set of traceable digital activities. Keeping track of your digital footprints is essential to identifying suspicious activities. Check your activities regularly and note the information recorded in different online accounts that you have, and delete accounts that are rarely used. Reset the password of the accounts that you haven’t logged in for a while before using them.
8. Be vigilant of the latest cybersecurity trends and attacks
One of the prominent steps to defend against attacks is to be watchful of the latest trends. Knowing what to expect from an attacker enhances your chances of defending successfully against an attack.
Cyber criminals constantly develop new attack vectors. For instance, you might be aware of a normal malware attack. But these are mutating in new and dangerous ways. To name a few, Wannacry, Adware, and Maze are the most recently observed malware attacks.
9. Never leave devices unattended
Leaving your device unattended, even inside your organization, opens up the possibility of a data breach. According to techjury, the cost of insider threats (related to credential theft) for organizations in 2020 was $2.79 million. The physical security of your devices, such as your laptops, flash drives, and mobile phones, are equally important as their technical security. It is always recommended to either lock the screen or shutdown the system before stepping away from it.
10. Back up data regularly
It is important to back up your data regularly. A recommended backup method is the 3-2-1 rule. This essentially means to have three copies of data in two formats with one copy stored off-site. If your organization becomes a victim of a ransomware or malware attack, the best way to repair your system is to erase all your data and restore the recently performed back-up.
These are some tips that can help mitigate the risk of cyberattacks and help you stay on top of your organization’s security. However, it is essential to understand that nobody is immune to attacks.
In the technological world, every organization is exposed and vulnerable to cyber threats. But there are precautions you can take that help minimize the impact of the attack.
It is crucial to analyze and understand the intent of the attacker before initiating a counter attack. Observing security events and identifying indicators can help you learn about the attackers and their motivation.
For instance, if the intent of an attacker is to disrupt the operations of the organization by escalating the privileges, the Indicator of Compromise would reflect failed logons followed by a successful one and privilege misuse.
Creating awareness among the workforce and users about cybersecurity and the importance of maintaining cyber hygiene will improve your chances of winning the cyber battle against malicious threat actors.
** Optrics Inc. is an Authorized ManageEngine partner
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