For many organizations, a key business concern is how to prevent cyberattacks. A successful cyberattack can cause large amounts of financial damage and reputation loss. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, cyber crime has surged 600%, according to PurpleSec.
With proper preparation and implementation of security measures, organizations can significantly reduce their chances of becoming victims of cyberattacks. The following are some of the best practices you can follow in order to increase your cybersecurity.
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Train Staff on Cyberattacks and Cyber Crimes
The first step in preventing cyberattacks is training staff on how they should handle potential threats. Teach employees what signs point to an attack, so they know when something isn’t right with your company’s information systems or data security. Then, teach them what actions they should take if an event occurs.
What Is a Cyberattack?
A cyberattack can be defined as an organized computer hacking incident by a malicious third party or group of people, designed to disrupt services and obtain protected data. Cyberattacks occur when malicious actors try to compromise your critical infrastructure. It may result in shutdowns and interruptions in service, loss of public trust, and government lawsuits.
Some examples of cyberattacks include:
- Denial of service (DoS) and distributed denial of service (DDoS)
- SQL injection (SQLi)
- Man-in-the-middle (MiTM)
- Email spoofing
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What Is the Difference Between a Cyberattack and a Cyber Crime?
The two terms are often used interchangeably, but there are significant differences between them. Knowing what sets these two categories apart can help you better identify the threat. The following is a breakdown of four factors that differentiate a cyberattack from a cyber crime.
- Intent: Most cyber criminals seek financial gain or other tangible benefits as part of their attacks. Attackers may also desire those things, but may also be politically motivated, seeking only disruption as their end goal.
- Methodology: A wide variety of methods can result in a successful cyberattack. From SQL injection techniques to exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities, more than one method will likely be needed to compromise your system. In cases of cyber crime, brute force — frequently using passwords obtained elsewhere — is often enough.
- Motivation: The motivation behind cyber crime is always financial gain, either through directly stealing resources or selling data to other cyber criminals. The motivating factors for cyber attacks vary widely, including politics or protest (hacktivism).
- Detection: Attempted cyberattacks are often picked up by security software. Cyber crimes like ransomware are often brought to the attention of the organization when access to resources is restricted and a ransom demand is made.
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Develop a Robust Cybersecurity Policy
A cybersecurity policy outlines your approach to safeguarding your company’s data. Some of its most important components include employee training, digital threat management, and privacy best practices.
You can also incorporate policies that apply specifically to cloud computing and Internet of Things (IoT) devices into your cybersecurity processes. A smart cybersecurity strategy will help protect against risks you haven’t even considered yet, which pays off down the road.
Control Access to Your Systems
Access controls are the first line of defense against attackers and a good place to start reducing your attack surface. Authorized users should have access only to those systems they need. This helps reduce potential exposure if one system is compromised by malware or infected with ransomware.
Properly implemented multi-factor authentication can significantly strengthen an organization’s security posture by requiring more than just a password for access.
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Keep Your Software and Systems Up to Date
Updating systems, apps, and software is just as important as updating your antivirus. Outdated programs are often overlooked in vulnerability scans, meaning they could be easier for hackers to break into. Make sure you’re always using up-to-date versions of everything on your network.
This includes things like security cameras, firewalls, routers, operating systems, firmware, smart devices, and more. Keeping all of these tools up to date ensures that when vulnerabilities are discovered, fixes can be rolled out quickly before attackers can exploit them.
Perform Vulnerability Testing (Penetration Testing)
Vulnerability testing is an ongoing, constant process. To ensure you have complete, in-depth coverage of your business’s entire network, you should perform regular vulnerability tests. These are similar to penetration tests in that they check for holes in your system — but they’re much simpler because they usually focus on one or two specific areas of interest instead of trying to scan everything at once.
They also run much faster than full penetration exercises do, so it’s possible to run several scans concurrently. This ensures you don’t miss any potentially dangerous spots over time. Simply running automated scans isn’t enough, though; performing real-time security monitoring with sophisticated software will help you prevent attacks from gaining a foothold and allow your business to stay safe.
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