In today’s age, the threat of cyberattacks is all too real. Companies are being hacked at an increasing rate and dealing with the fallout. As a result, it’s more important than ever for executives to understand information security risks. Here are some tips on strengthening your strategy and improving cybersecurity:
Know what you have, where it is, and how it works.
A core aspect of a sound cybersecurity strategy is knowing what you have, where it is, and how it works. For example, if you have a laptop at work and one at home that contains sensitive information about your company or clients, it’s essential to know how both devices can be compromised.
Maybe the hard drive on your office machine has been encrypted but not its counterpart in your home office. Perhaps there are USB ports on both machines that would allow someone with physical access to steal data. There are Windows vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit to gain entry into your system even though they don’t have physical access.
Knowing this will help you decide how best to protect those devices—for instance, by encrypting them or locking them up when not in use.
Don’t allow any device to access the Internet directly.
While it’s often tempting to let employees use their own devices for work, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t. For starters, this opens the door to security risks and makes it harder to track devices. If you use your smartphone or laptop for business purposes, consider not using the same device for personal use.
If you allow employees to use their smartphones or laptops at work, ensure they’re set up properly before being connected to any company networks. Ensure that these devices have been updated with the latest software updates from both Apple and Microsoft.
Android updates may be pushed automatically through Google Play Services but sometimes need an extra tap. On top of that, set up two-factor authentication (2FA) on all your accounts so only those who know your username and password can gain access. You can also require 2FA on any email account used by employees so hackers won’t be able to get into their Outlook profiles if they somehow manage to breach security elsewhere in the system.
Implement the default deny principle.
This means access to resources should be denied unless explicitly allowed. If you want to allow users to access something, you must ensure it’s included in your list of exceptions. The user will then be granted access only if included in this list.
The goal of this approach is not only to limit potential risks but also to make sure people can’t use connections or devices without their knowledge or consent.
Segment your network and limit lateral movement.
Segmentation allows you to limit the lateral movement of attackers, making it more difficult for them to access sensitive data or move throughout your infrastructure.
Ideally, it would help if you segmented your network by function (i.e., divisions such as finance and HR), user type (i.e., executives vs. employees), location within a building, and data sensitivity level—for example: “Company confidential” vs. “Company public” vs. “Publicly available information”).
You can also use geographic location as a basis for segmentation if all of your employees work from home or have remote access to their company’s networks regularly. This would include contractors who work remotely and some executives who may travel frequently but still need access to certain files while out of the office.
Change all default passwords.
As a general rule, you should never use the default password that comes with any software or hardware. These are almost always easy to guess and can be found in the product manual or even on Google. Instead, change them if you don’t want anyone to know your router’s username and password.
Similarly, always change your Wi-Fi network name from its default setting. It is easy for hackers to find out where you live, so they can use some of these same methods in person or through other means (like phishing).
You can also use this opportunity to add security by disabling SSID broadcasting; this will prevent strangers from finding out which networks are available near them without first figuring out their names using Google Maps’ location services feature.
Never underestimate the importance of patching.
A standard security strategy is to keep your systems updated and patched, but many organizations don’t always do this well—or they don’t do it at all. But if you want to improve your cybersecurity strategy, focusing on software updates and patches should be one of your top priorities.
Therefore, any security strategy must keep systems up-to-date with patches for known vulnerabilities. This is also known as zero-day exploits.
A zero-day exploit is an attack that uses a previously unknown vulnerability in software or hardware that allows hackers access to their networks without being detected by traditional antivirus tools or firewalls.
Use multi-factor authentication wherever possible.
Multifactor authentication (MFA) is an excellent way to protect your data. The second layer of security requires users to verify their identity with two different types of authentication before accessing any system or application.
Multifactor authentication can be as simple as entering a passcode sent via text message. On the other hand, it could be an additional verification step, such as using face recognition software or your fingerprint.
Using multifactor will help make sure only authorized users have access to sensitive information and systems by requiring the use of multiple credentials before granting access.
Implement a process for safely handling sensitive data.
You should have a process for safely handling sensitive data, and your employees should be trained to handle sensitive data. This will help prevent breaches in which malware or bots are installed because an employee clicked on an email attachment or link. The training should also include recognizing phishing, social engineering, spear-phishing, MITRE ATT&CK, and whaling attacks (attacks that target higher-level executives).
Educate users on information security best practices.
Educating staff on the importance of following information security policies is essential, and they should know what constitutes a security breach. They should also understand that there are serious consequences for not reporting breaches or misusing company resources.
The training should involve regular reminders about these rules, and it’s best if it’s centralized so that every employee sees the same information simultaneously. This helps prevent confusion when employees have questions about handling situations like these in their daily work lives.
A successful cybersecurity strategy is not just about technology but people, processes, and culture. Understanding what assets you have, where those assets are located, and how they interact. You must implement policies and procedures to protect your network from threats and improve productivity. The last thing any business wants or needs is an attack on their systems, so make sure all bases are covered.