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How secure is your company? 15 cybersecurity tips you can do to protect it

16 March 2022


Safety. Security. Peace of mind. It’s what you want, right? And you did your research, bought the software, set your password, a long and strong password, forgot the password, switched back to ye olde trusty one you were using since your early 20s for a while, thought it over, and then changed it again to a strong, long password. So, you’re good. Right? Wrong.

According to Juniper Research, a leading analyst firm in the technology sector, cybercrime business losses will likely top $5 trillion by 2024.. While the global average cost of a single data breach is $3.92 million, according to data from IBM.

Fighting cyber threats is something to stay on top off on the daily. As cyber-attacks become more and more sophisticated and frequent, you not only need to ensure your business is protected with the right shields but also, that you keep a pulse on the trends.


What is cybersecurity and why is it important?

With so many business applications running on the web, cybersecurity becomes an entity to sustain and upgrade constantly, as the threats develop and return constantly as well.

Cybersecurity is the total of processes, technologies, and applications used to protect devices and data from cyber-attacks. A wide range of services can fortify your guard against attacks. Weak cybersecurity entails the risk of data leaks with the consequence of said data being exploited, the risk of devices becoming unusable and even people falling victim to blackmail. In a business setup, it could prove catastrophic if the procedures and controls in place fail to provide the protection needed, leaving the companies in a very vulnerable position. A company’s data is sensitive and valuable, so, with them at risk, the danger of downtime, revenue loss, and inability to maintain customers is imminent. If a company does not comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR), they risk paying large fines as well.


How many types of cybersecurity exist?

So let’s take a look at the types of threats that cybersecurity defends us from:

Phishing: Usually through an email that appears to be legitimate and authentic, assuming a reputable, known but false identity, cybercriminals request access to credentials or other sensitive data like credit card information. There are two types of these threats here:

  • Spear phishing where a specific group of persons is targeted, such as a Finance team or c-level executives with access to important data.
  • Business email compromise: With this technique the attackers lurk in the business emails so to understand communications and procedures. They will then make requests for the direction of data or funds, once again assuming the false identity of a business member or associate.

Hence the need for strong email protection.

Malware: A relatively known term, which is often encountered, this is essentially a type of software that exploits vulnerabilities to attack a company’s network. Usually, it gains access when a team member downloads files that contain it or clicks suspicious links in emails.

There are three types of malwares:

Ransomware: Cybercriminals use it to either block victims’ access to their own data or blackmail the victims to use it against them, for example publish or send to employer, unless they pay ransom.

Spyware: This one is used to collect sensitive information from an individual or a company without their knowledge.

Viruses: A type of software with the ability to copy itself by inserting pieces of code into other programs.

Zero-day exploit

This is a window of opportunity with vulnerability exposed until an organization is able to act by implementing or updating a security patch, thus the company is open to an attack.

Denial-of-service (DoS) attack

The scope of this attack is to make a device or network unavailable to its intended users. This cyber threat works by disrupting services by flooding an organization’s servers and networks with traffic to drain bandwidth and exhaust resources.

Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack

This occurs when an attacker inserts themselves into the middle of a transaction, actively eavesdropping between two parties. The attacker makes independent connections with the victims and relays messages between them, possibly altering said messages by intersecting and injecting other messages with the scope to filter or divert data. For example, a hacker might divert a victim’s bank funds into their own account. One of the most common points of entry for MitM attacks is an unsecured public WiFi.

Structured Query Language (SQL) injection

A type of cyber-attack in which a hacker uses a piece of SQL (Structured Query Language) code to manipulate a database and gain access to potentially valuable information. This threat works by inserting malicious code into a form on a company’s website or app, which allows the attacker to uncover sensitive information.

However, many of these threats can be averted through educating your team on data protection, sharing best practices, and of course by implementing IT solutions. Password security guidelines are crucial in this. That said, as cybersecurity threats grow more complex, businesses will need to take more powerful proactive measures. So, let’s look at 15 things you can do to protect your company.


1. Identify your needs and create a plan

First things first: What are the security risks for the online services and devices your company uses? List and match with a solution. If you are unable to find a solution, maybe consider switching to new services/devices. At the end of the day, should you be attacked, you’re going to have to anyway.


     2. Encrypt your data

Data encryption translates data into another form, or code, so that only people with access to a secret key (formally called a decryption key) or password can read it. Encrypted data is commonly referred to as ciphertext, while unencrypted data is called plaintext. Encryption is one of the most popular and effective data security methods used by organizations. A point to consider is that the most basic method of attack on encryption today is trying random keys until the right one is found. Of course, the length of the key determines the vulnerability, so it is important to keep in mind that encryption strength is directly proportional to key size.


3. Educate your employees

Most of us just rely on the confidence that things will just work. We wake up in the morning, hit the light switch, and believe the light will turn on. Teams are busy, they need these things taken care of, out of mind. A collective focus on cyber-security is important as a part of the business mentality. Explain the importance, take the time, showcase just how the business can be affected. We use tools, yes, and we do rely on them, but at the same time we must practice mindfulness and vigilance to achieve protection. Human error or negligence must be taken into consideration, and a procedure must be in place for it to be contained and corrected. Remember, you are protecting your business environment so do take the time to fully engage your teams and educate them.


4. Secure hardware systems

Every single device in your company can be a point of entry for a cybercriminal. So, in the case there’s sensitive information on that device, ensure you protect it with multi-factor authentication. Annoying as it is (please be kind to your tech support), multi-factor authentication works, and it secures the devices. Of course, you will have to invest time and energy, but it is required for your cyber protection strategy. Keep in mind that any associated cost is outweighed by the potentiality of data loss or breach.

 5. Keep your systems updated and set up automatic updates

Best practice is to just allow the devices to update automatically. Updates are crucial to the smooth operation of applications and services, so keep those computers updated. Updates safeguard against potential threats. Older software versions may contain vulnerabilities scanned by cybercriminals and identified on your machines. And that gives them an opportunity.

    6. Move to the cloud

Save time and energy by looking at a cloud service provider. Your cloud provider will be able to store data, maintain software patches and implement security. This can be a good solution especially for small businesses looking to provide themselves with a good degree of protection. A reliable cloud service provider can unload a lot of work on cyber security from a small company.

    7. Pay attention to personal devices

All of us own personal mobile devices and bring them to the office. Using them to access business data without caution might prove dangerous. There must be a plan to provide some level of protection against legal repercussions and mobile system costs. The policy should be clear and comprehensive, covering pertinent data deletion, location tracking, and Internet monitoring issues, and your employees must be fully aware and educated about it. For remote workers, proper provisions should be taken by businesses, as workers who work remotely might use their own devices as well, which could also introduce new security concerns if not effectively managed.

    8. Secure your passwords

Password requirements should be followed. Make a good mix of uppercase, lowercase, special characters, numbers and of course it is good practice to update your passwords frequently. Expiring passwords are great as a part of cybersecurity practice, complemented by multi-factor authentication as mentioned above. Password managers come in really handy here, as your teams do not need to remember these complex passwords which cannot be easily cracked.

    9. Protect your wireless network

Try to use the strongest encryption setting you can so to protect your business and turn off the broadcasting function to make your network invisible. This is actually the best practice as if the cybercriminal cannot see something, they cannot attack!

    10. Backup everything

Be proactive, back up everything, and store it elsewhere. Data loss can be catastrophic and in order for you to protect your data, backing up is one of the first steps to be taken. This way, in case of an attack, your organization will be able to bounce its operations right back. With today’s technology and tools, this requires very little time and effort, so make sure it is done on a regular basis. It is best to use multiple back-up methods to ensure the safety of your important files. A good backup system typically includes:

  • daily incremental back-ups to a portable device and/or cloud storage
  • end-of-week server back-ups
  • quarterly server back-ups
  • yearly server back-ups

Regularly check and test that you can restore your data from your back up.

Portable devices used for data storage should be kept offsite for good measure and disconnected from computers. This way cyber-attacks are prevented. Alternatively, you can also back up your data through a cloud storage solution. An ideal solution will use encryption when transferring and storing your data and provide multi-factor authentication for access.

     11. Pay attention to data permissions

When it comes to data, it is always a clever idea to ask oneself “Who can see this information”? For best security practice, limit access to those who are permitted to use the specific data and make it a priority for those permissions to be revoked in the case of a user exiting the business or is offboarded.

     12. Keep up with the current security standards

As cyber threats evolve, so do security standards and regulatory compliance requirements; Keep abreast on cybersecurity by continuous education, schedule seminars for IT-related and management positions to keep current with changes. Re-evaluate your existing solutions often.

     13. Perform regular security audits

Particularly challenging as many small companies do not have a designated IT person on staff. It may be to your benefit to consider hiring an IT company to design and manage your cybersecurity. Cyber protection is a sound financial investment, and it will pay off in the long run. IT specialists have the knowledge and expertise to perform security audits for you. Find a security expert here.

    14. Set up a firewall

A firewall is a piece of software or hardware which monitors and controls incoming and outgoing network traffic based on predetermined security rules. It acts as the gatekeeper for all incoming and outgoing traffic. Setting up a firewall will protect your business’s internal networks, but do need to be regularly updated in order perform well. Remember to install the firewall on all your portable business devices as well.

    15. Turn on your spam filters

Spam filters can reduce the amount of spam and phishing emails that your business receives. If you receive spam or phishing emails, the best thing to do is delete and report them. Sometimes, as cybercriminals become increasingly sophisticated, spam might appear as real as it gets. Applying a spam filter will help reduce the chance of you or your employees opening spam by accident. Look at endpoint protection for peace of mind in communications.

To protect your business a 10% to 15% of your IT budget should go to protection against data breaches and cybersecurity attacks. Of course, the cost varies depending on the size of the company, its needs, the services needed, and the type of installation (self-install or professional install). For the best solutions for your own company, you can find a partner here.

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