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- According to Microsoft engineers, 99.9% of account compromise attacks could have been prevented with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).
- Cybersecurity threats are inevitable, but cyber insurance can help you better position your business to mitigate the financial impacts of an incident.
- Effective incident response plans are practiced and reviewed on an ongoing basis because practicing your organization’s plan can help you discover things you may have missed on paper.
A comprehensive security strategy requires consistent monitoring and managing to ensure systems and data are secure from malicious actors. And while every organization will need to take a unique approach to cybersecurity, there are some security tactics can benefit every business – no matter its size or industry.
Here are five things every organization can do to improve their cybersecurity:
1. Educate your staff.
Education is a crucial component of a solid cybersecurity plan. Knowledge can be a better asset than any tool on the market, especially since 95% of cyberattacks are due to human error. It’s impossible to implement technical solutions that can catch every potential threat. Your employees need to know what to watch out for and how to respond in the case of a breach.
Formal cybersecurity training should be conducted yearly at a minimum. We recommend conducting quarterly trainings as well as additional training for new hires. Good education includes:
- An overview of common cybersecurity threats: Cybersecurity threats come in many forms, including phishing attacks, malware infections, and social engineering scams. It’s important for employees to understand what these threats look like to avoid falling victim to an attack.
- Tips on identifying and avoiding these threats: Employees should be trained on best practices for avoiding threats, such as not clicking on suspicious links or attachments, using strong passwords, and keeping software up to date. They should also be taught how to identify signs of a potential attack, such as unusual network activity or unexpected pop-up messages.
- A clear way to report incidents: This can help ensure that incidents are quickly identified and addressed, reducing the potential impact on the organization. Providing a clear reporting process can also help employees feel more confident in their ability to handle cybersecurity incidents.
Comprehensive cybersecurity is a team effort.
Discover how to create a culture of security in your organization.
2. Invest in a cyber insurance policy.
Cybersecurity threats are inevitable, and cyber insurance can help you better position your business to mitigate the financial impacts of an incident. Cyber insurance can provide coverage for a wide range of expenses, including:
- Data recovery: This includes the cost of restoring data that has been lost or corrupted as a result of a cyberattack.
- Business interruption: Cyberattacks can disrupt business operations, leading to lost revenue and other expenses. Cyber insurance can help cover these costs.
- Liability and legal: If a cyberattack leads to the loss of personal information or other sensitive data, a business may be held liable for damages. Cyber insurance can provide coverage for legal fees and other associated costs.
- Notifications: In the event of a data breach, a business may be required by law to notify affected individuals. Cyber insurance can cover the costs associated with this process.
- Crisis management: A cyberattack can damage a business’s reputation and cause a loss of customer confidence. Cyber insurance can provide coverage for the costs associated with managing a crisis and restoring a company’s image.
When choosing a cyber insurance policy, it’s important to consider the specific needs of your organization. Factors to consider include the size of your business, the type of data you handle, and the potential impact of a cyberattack on your organization. It’s also important to review the policy carefully to understand what is covered and what is not, as well as any limits of exclusions that may apply.
3. Tighten up your configurations.
Cybersecurity isn’t just about buying the right software, hardware, and protection plans. Tightening up your configurations to eliminate unnecessary access is a simple yet often overlooked way to reduce your organization’s vulnerability.
Harden your system and reduce the potential for compromise by periodically:
- Removing admin rights
- Reducing other user permissions
- Closing unused ports
- Removing inactive user accounts
- Uninstalling software that is no longer used
- Ensuring your VPN is required
- Following a hardening benchmark (such as CIS Benchmarks)
Additionally, make sure your organization has enabled and required Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). According to Microsoft engineers, 99.9% of account compromise attacks could have been prevented with MFA.
MFA is classified as something you have, something you know and something you are (e.g. a biometric like a fingerprint or facial recognition) that creates a second factor to another trusted source. When MFA is enabled, if a user’s password is stolen, there's still that other authentication method needed.
While it can seem inconvenient for users to have to provide their fingerprint or type in the six-digit text code that never seems to arrive quickly enough, the truth is that passwords alone just don’t cut it anymore. MFA adds that necessary second layer that a threat actor can’t know ahead of time.
4. Implement cloud security.
There are several benefits of moving your on-premises hardware and applications to the cloud, including access to more applications, improved data accessibility, more efficient collaboration, and easier content management. However, as more and more businesses adopt digital-first models and allow employees to work remotely, it is critically important they work to ensure user and device authentication, resource access control, data privacy protection, and regulatory data compliance. That’s where cloud security comes in.
Maintaining a strong cloud security comes with its own perks, too – like helping you achieve lower upfront costs, reduced ongoing operational and administrative costs, easier scaling, and increased reliability and availability. There are several components of cloud security and choosing a cloud security provider will be essential to ensuring the protection and safety of your cloud environment.
At Eide Bailly, we help businesses implement a range of secure cloud solutions, including:
Microsoft Defender helps you to identify, protect against, detect, and respond to sophisticated cyberattacks, helping you to stay secure. Microsoft Defender consists of four products for enterprise customers (Defender for Endpoint, Defender for Identity, Defender for Cloud Apps, and Defender for Office 365) and one product for SMB customers (Defender for Business).
Microsoft Intune Suite
Microsoft Intune Suite is a cloud-based endpoint management and security solution. It manages user access and simplifies app and device management across your many devices, including mobile devices, desktop computers, and virtual endpoints.
Microsoft Entra is an enterprise scalable identity and security provider for organizations. Microsoft Entra includes Azure Active Directory and has many features, such as application single sign-on (SSO), conditional access policy enforcement, and multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Microsoft Purview is a compliance and risk management solution that enables organizations to scale compliance by identifying and protecting sensitive data while preventing data loss and reducing risk.
Microsoft Priva is a privacy management solution that enables organizations to protect personal data, automate risk management, and manage subject rights requests.
While technology can help your organization advance capabilities past the limits of on-premises infrastructure, transitioning primarily to cloud-based environments can have several implications if not done securely.
5. Practice, practice, practice.
Effective incident response plans are built, practiced, reviewed, and improved on an ongoing basis. Practicing your organization’s plan can help you discover things that may be missed on paper.
In tabletop exercises, for example, cybersecurity professionals meet with business leaders, attorneys, IT professionals and others in the organization to ask “what if” questions. It’s also incredibly helpful to include your insurance policy details and team in these exercises, so you can shed light on what’s covered and what’s not, and so you know the specifics of contacting them when an incident occurs.
Typically, the process of a tabletop exercise involves identifying a scenario, walking through how it could play out and examining any questions or curveballs that may arise. These exercises can help identify gaps and inform recommendations to strengthen your plan against future threats. Just make sure that plan is stored somewhere separate and secure — not just on a hard drive — so it isn’t lost if your systems are compromised.
Your practice exercises should also include testing your backups.
Backup issues are one of the main reasons businesses end up paying when hit with ransomware. They may think that their backups are safe, complete, and ready to use, but that may not be the case when it comes time to reinstate them. It’s also important to understand how long it takes to reinstate your backups: it could be weeks, months, or even years before your systems are ready to use again. Many businesses just don’t have that kind of time, which makes paying the ransom all that more enticing.
Cybersecurity professionals can also conduct penetration testing exercises to give you a full picture of any gaps that may be subject to exploitation. This testing can highlight weaknesses in your network configurations that could allow unauthorized and/or unsuspected access. While this may seem like an extra step, the benefit remains clear: would you rather have an expert find and flag these vulnerabilities or realize too late that a cybercriminal has exploited them?
- Remember: Threat actors often try to make an incident as inconvenient as possible. That means, statistically speaking, their favorite time to strike is when most people are gone — for example, on a holiday or in the middle of the night. Make sure you’re prepared for anything! And when disaster strikes, our 24/7 Data Breach Hotline is always open.
Cybersecurity Risk is Business Risk
It may seem impossible to keep up with new technology and new threats, but cybersecurity incidents are often crimes of opportunity. The more you work to prevent those opportunities, the better off you’ll be. A trusted advisor can help you cover the gaps and take the burden off your team. No matter where you are in your cybersecurity journey, our professionals can help ensure the safety and security of your systems, software, and data. We take a holistic approach to cybersecurity – including advisory, integration, and threat management.