In Kubler Ross' five stages of grief, the last step is acceptance and hope. Let's apply the same concept here—there's no way we can win the war against cybercrime without understanding and accepting that the situation is wanting and working to make it better. You can begin by understanding the trends in cybersecurity and accept how dire the situation is. Is cybercrime on the rise? A resounding YES. Cybercrime Magazine predicts that by 2025, businesses will be losing up to $10.5 billion annually to cybercriminals. According to Titanium, more than 90% of U.S. organizations registered increments in attempted and successful attacks in 2020.
So, what do you do? Do you sit pretty and wait to see how deep the rabbit hole goes? Or, do you keep hoping and working to solve this menace? Wait, is there even a solution? If so, what is it?
How to Protect Your Organization From Cyberattacks
Here's the thing—there's no surefire protection against data breaches. Even the most advanced cybersecurity systems are prone to compromise. And that's where you begin, appreciating that you're never safe enough. With that in mind, here are a few power tips to safeguard your networks from the bad guys:
Maintain Reliable, Up-To-Date Backups
Ransomware is one of the most prevalent and lethal cyber attack vectors in the U.S. Typically, cyber actors gain unauthorized access to your systems, introduce an infected software that blocks your user or admin access, and then demand ransom. Without access to your files and data, you cannot operate normally, and cyber attackers know this pretty well. They rely on interrupting your business processes to coax you into giving in to their demands. And that's why backups are essential.
When you maintain easy-to-retrieve, updated copies of your data offline, you can use them to sustain basic operations during an attack. That not only saves you from costly downtimes and interruptions but also enables you to seek a solution while more collected. With reliable offline backups, you don't have to pay hefty ransoms to resume normal operations hurriedly. We recommend backing up all your crucial files at least twice to thrice per day. It might also help to store the backups in separate servers with an additional layer of security.
Regularly Update and Patch Your Systems
Cybercriminals continually advance their techniques and devise new tactics daily. Therefore, a cybersecurity system or protocol that might have been perfect yesterday might be ineffective today. Data security experts and software developers monitor these emerging threats and occasionally update their software in response. They then release new security protocols to the end-users like your organization in patches and updates. Downloading and installing the updates, therefore, ensures that your systems have the latest security features. However, note that updates also pose a cybersecurity threat. We've recently seen several incidents where cyberattackers use compromised updates to access corporate networks.
A perfect example is the recent SolarWinds hack, where actors introduced malicious codes into a legitimate update. Users unsuspectingly downloaded the Orion update, probably because it was an unknown source, and fell victim to a supply chain attack that affected hundreds of SolarWinds customers. So, before you install an update or apply a patch, verify if it's secure—regardless of who has sent it. A better way is to install the updates in a few devices first, preferably within the IT department, and monitor any abnormal activity.
Use Strong Passwords and Multifactor Authentication
A cyberattack begins the moment the bad guys enter your network. So, keeping them out of your systems is one of the most crucial cybersecurity techniques. The most basic intrusion prevention measure is using strong passwords. Deploy password expiration and complexity protocols, and encourage your staff to use different passcodes for different accounts. Multifactor authentication adds an extra layer of protection, just in case the bad guys access your passwords.
Train Your Staff on Cybersecurity
Most cyberattacks target employee negligence. Even with the most advanced cybersecurity systems, you still need your staff to be alert. Regularly train your users on threat identification, common tricks, intrusion prevention, and fast-response protocols. A cyber-aware staff can help lower cybersecurity risks by over 91%. Also, consider occasionally launching simulated attacks to keep them always agile and ready.
Leverage Multiple Prevention Layers
As we've said, cybercriminals are increasingly targeting business interruption by introducing viruses to your network. It is important to use a multi-layer, multi-vendor approach when protecting our organization from cybercriminals. Anti-virus is not enough, it should be used in addition to Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR). EDR can provide your organization with real-time response to potential threats, giving your organization an opportunity to stop attacks in the initial stages. While every business is always looking to cut costs, the focus here should be on performance and security instead.
LeadingIT offers 24/7, all-inclusive, fast, and friendly technology and cybersecurity support for nonprofits, manufacturers, schools, accounting firms, religious organizations, government, and law offices with 10-200 employees across the Chicagoland area.