As more companies are shifting toward hybrid work and adopting cloud-based frameworks, cyber security requires regular updates. Security breaches in business are not uncommon, and every year, many businesses are the subject of such attacks. Not to mention the new and unexpected cyber security landscape brought on by COVID-19.
Cyber Security threats can also increase due to geopolitical conflicts, such as the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. In fact, PwC’s 25th Annual Global CEO survey states that geopolitical conflicts can increase cyber risks by 49%. This kind of tension, as we have seen in Ukraine in recent months, can cause businesses to stop working, making them vulnerable to a plethora of cyber threats.
Startling Cybersecurity Statistics
- According to Check Point Research, in the 4th quarter of 2021, cyber-attacks were at their peak with over 900 attacks per organization, and compared to 2020, there was a 50% increase in attacks per week on the corporate networks.
- Another finding by IBM states that 2021 had the highest data breach cost in 17 years, which rose from $3.86 million to $ 4.24 million.
- A report by Statista shows that in 2020 alone, 60% of US organizations paid for ransomware attacks, and 304 million ransomware attacks took place.
- A Verizon Data Breach Report from 2018 states that 81% of breaches are caused by credential theft.
While these figures are alarming, we cannot sit idle. Security is of paramount importance, and to keep data safe, companies must take strict actions and adopt measures that can improve cybersecurity and minimize the risk of a data breach or cyber-attack. It’s easier to prevent a hack than to recover data after it’s stolen by ransomware or cyber-attack.
Top Cybersecurity Practices Every Business Should Follow
1. Educate Your Employees
Educate your employees about security basics, security breaches, cyber-attacks, data breaches, phishing, ransomware, and other threats. Here are some things you can do to better equip your employees:
- Conduct cybersecurity training
- Practice cybersecurity awareness
- Educate staff on password security
2. Report Suspicious Emails
Hackers are smart, and they know just the right tactics to grab users’ attention and lure them toward giving up their data. Users should refrain from opening and reporting emails with:
- Suspicious links
- Emails from an unknown or suspicious sender
- Unusual content
Many hackers use the phishing technique and send links to steal sensitive information and user credentials. Ignoring and reporting such emails can prevent businesses from unwanted security threats and data theft.
3. Use Complex Passwords
One of the main reasons why hackers can get their hands on sensitive information is because of simple, easy-to-guess passwords. Hackers have powerful algorithms which can guess dozens of passwords in mere seconds.
- Use a complex password with a minimum of 12 characters
- Use upper case, lower case, special characters, and numbers
- Avoid using birth dates, license plate numbers, or anything that’s easy to guess
- Don’t reuse passwords. According to SANS Software Security Institute, password reuse is one of the most common vulnerabilities that lead to data breaches
4. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Even if employees use high-security passwords, it’s also recommended to use multi-factor authentication.
Hackers are always looking for a chance to uncover sensitive information. Enabling multi-factor authentication improves security as it validates the authenticity of users in more than one step, often sending a generated code to the user’s personal device. It works on:
- What the user knows – password, pattern, or pin
- What the user has – one-time password (OTP) that is sent to the registered email id or phone number
- What the user inherits – Fingerprint or biometric signature
According to Microsoft, 99.9% of attacks can be blocked with multi-factor authentication.
5. Firewall and a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
With a stable internet connection, companies can connect with a VPN to add an additional layer of security to conceal online activities from third parties.
- A VPN establishes a secure connection between the website and the internet connection to channel user data and the IP address
- The secure connection helps separate hackers from data and prevents data theft
- A firewall monitors the incoming traffic, detects anomalies, and doesn’t allow threats to enter the system
6. Install Anti-Virus
Installing a reliable antivirus program is one of the first things any company should do. VPNs and firewalls can prevent attacks only to a certain extent. Choose and install the best-suited antivirus plan to prevent unwanted cyber-attacks. Many malware and spyware programs are designed to replicate themselves and spread through the system, remain hidden, and collect business data. Anti-malware software can remove viruses, malware, spyware, and adware and filter out harmful emails and downloads.
7. Regularly Backup Your Data
Data is sensitive, powerful, and vital, but unfortunately, it is also prone to theft. Losing years of hard work is detrimental to a business's success and employee morale. It’s vital to backup data into hard drives or the cloud manually and regularly schedule automated backups.
However, data backup cannot prevent attacks like ransomware, but it can help companies get back to business. Apart from that, enabling solutions like Data Loss Prevention (DLP) for creating policies to track and authorize the flow of sensitive data can also help. It blocks data transfer when there is a violation of policies or an unauthorized attempt is made.
8. Improve Configuration
There are so many checkboxes to tick for improving cybersecurity, but it’s not just about installing software. Improving system configuration can tighten security and reduce the vulnerability of an organization; here’s what you should do:
- Reduce permissions of users
- Remove inactive user accounts
- Remove unwanted software
- Practice using VPNs
- Remove admin rights
9. Regular Updates and Upgrades
hether it’s software or a simple browser, regular updates are important to keep security tight and prevent attacks. Cyber security teams should monitor all systems and software and look out for any new threats that can affect a system or cause data theft.