Cybersecurity breaches are escalating, and it is projected that by 2023, they will reach a staggering 15.4 million incidents. Despite technological advancements that facilitate security upgrades, malicious hackers leverage sophisticated tools. Therefore, along with enforcing stringent cybersecurity policies, organizations must proactively mitigate risks.
Leaving data security to chance is not an option for any organization. The potential business impact is immense, encompassing revenue loss, operational disruption, and compromised customer data. Additionally, data breaches inflict reputational harm that could even lead to business failure. Given the stakes involved, how can organizations effectively minimize cybersecurity risks? Here, we present 9 practical strategies for implementation.
Strengthening Cybersecurity Measures
#1 Control account access
Threat actors collect account credentials, therefore, it is advisable to commence your program with a zero-trust framework. In this model, account privileges are assigned conservatively, granting them only as users require them. Ensure you have well-documented procedures for securely resetting credentials, or automating credential management using a privileged access management tool. Additionally, revise your onboarding and offboarding procedures to align with the zero-trust approach.
#2 Actively manage systems
Frequently scan and perform inventory checks on your network devices and software. Eliminate any hardware or software that is unnecessary or unexpected from your network.
#3 Set up a VPN
This practice is useful for fraud detection, business network access control, and mitigation of data interception risks. Thanks to encryption technology, confidential data is prevented from being disclosed even if it is intercepted through private networks. You can install a good VPN on Safari or Android, it doesn’t matter. It is best to organize digital security through VPN for all employees and those who have access to business data.
#4 Use the practice of separating networks
Cybercriminals can conceal malicious activity and jeopardize data through widely used protocols for transferring data across networks. Application-aware mechanisms, such as firewalls, can limit specific applications upon detection of a compromise. Begin by segregating crucial networks and services, and subsequently, implement network defenses to obstruct unauthorized traffic and constrain content.
#5 Use longer passwords
Previously, it was recommended or mandatory to regularly update passwords. Nevertheless, recent evidence indicates that changing passwords frequently does not effectively deter fraud. Individuals who frequently change their passwords are more inclined to maintain a physical or electronic record of their passwords to avoid forgetting them. This practice is highly discouraged as such records are more susceptible to theft. Nowadays, experts in fraud prevention suggest using longer, more intricate passwords or even memorable passphrases that consist of multiple words instead of frequently changing passwords.
#6 Activate multifactor authentication
For effective cyberattack mitigation, multifactor authentication is crucial. Employ this safeguard for accounts with elevated privileges, remote access, and/or valuable assets. Use physical token-based authentication systems to complement knowledge-based factors like passwords and PINs, enhancing security.
#7 Regular employee training
Malicious hackers often exploit databases by sending phishing emails to employees, a common method for unauthorized access. Astonishingly, global statistics reveal an alarming 3.4 billion phishing emails circulating worldwide. Through deceptive links, these emails contain malware that allows hackers to seize user data, including login credentials.
Phishing emails possess an air of legitimacy, making them difficult to detect. For instance, by impersonating organizational leaders, hackers may request personal information. Without proper training, employees unwittingly disclose this sensitive data. Consequently, conducting cybersecurity awareness training assumes paramount importance. Educate your employees on the primary forms of cybersecurity attacks and the most effective prevention strategies.
#8 Encrypt your data and create backups
Ensure the encryption of all sensitive data. Storing data in plain text format only facilitates unauthorized access by hackers. Data encryption, however, restricts access to parties with the encryption key, even if unauthorized parties gain access. Additionally, data encryption software notifies you of any attempted alterations or tampering.
Regularly back up critical information to prevent data loss due to cybersecurity breaches. In the absence of reliable and secure backups, operational disruptions can lead to substantial revenue loss for organizations. The 3-2-1 rule is an effective data backup strategy. It entails having at least three copies of your data stored, two of which should be on different media, and one should be stored offsite.
#9 Keep your software updated
Software and system updates significantly influence your cybersecurity and digital safety. They not only introduce new features but also address bugs and patch security flaws and vulnerabilities that malicious hackers exploit. The hackers write code packaged as malware, which can compromise your entire system. To ensure information security, employ a patch management system for automatic update management.
Fraud constantly evolves, posing a persistent challenge. Employ the above 9 strategies to evaluate your existing risk, bolster your cybersecurity, educate your employees and customers, and invest in suitable systems and software. These steps will empower you to outpace financial fraud.