Cybersecurity is a phenomenon that every business, no matter its size, needs to consider. Secure cyberspace is crucial for the basic functioning of present-day society’s economic, political, and social structures. Protecting your systems is incredibly important, given how much damage a cyberattack can cause.
Recently, we have seen many ransomware attacks against government establishments that impacted physical infrastructure and large companies that exposed customer data. The health crisis is a perfect storm, with millions of people shifting to remote work almost overnight — including workers who may have access to critical infrastructure systems — and ransomware that can be deployed simply by clicking a link in an email. One security firm that tracks ransomware attacks estimated that there were some 65,000 successful breaches in 2020.
Cybercriminals are well-versed in common safeguards. They are encouraged as large sums of money can be extorted through deploying ransomware. A large percentage of cyber theft is initiated internally, often by employees or contractors with privileged access to IT resources—often for legitimate support purposes. So, what can companies proactively do in their war against cyberattacks?
Beginning the cybersecurity journey
Depending on the size and nature of the business, adopting a proactive stance is often much easier said than done. A big issue for most organizations is convincing the senior leadership teams and management that cybersecurity is worth actively investing in. Before technology was so widespread in the workplace and back when businesses were fighting online attacks reactively, cybersecurity used to be exclusively dealt with by the IT departments. But the issue is much more significant than it used to be and now requires company-wide participation. What’s more, even with the backing of management, it can be difficult for businesses to know where to begin in their cybersecurity journey. Yet, it is crucial to start at least.
Creating the cybersecurity strategy
The solution to effectively fight back against cyberattacks is through the implementation of an effective cybersecurity strategy. A cybersecurity strategy is a comprehensive set of best practices that covers every eventuality and is distributed to all employees, raising awareness about the issue and making sure everyone knows what to do in the event of an attack.
Departments should tailor each strategy to the specific nature and requirements of each business. If personnel’s daily responsibilities include handling personal data, the strategy should outline any additional risks and suggest effective mitigation methods. When an attack occurs, the strategy should help define the attack, identify what has been affected, and make the recovery process much smoother. The strategy should also be regularly referred to and updated, along with the systems.
Taking proactive measures
It was not too long ago when most took on a reactive approach, simply not considering the possibility of a cyberattack until they were hit with one, after which they could only try (and often unsuccessfully) to stop its spread effectively. Businesses can no longer afford this. Instead, a much more proactive approach is required, including preparations for a breach and measures that mitigate the risks and protect all valuable data/assets in the system. A better legal recourse is needed for the organization fallen victim to one of these attacks, with a more significant focus on hunting down the perpetrators and proving their misdemeanour in the court of law.
Proactive measures are a company’s best defence against cyberattacks of all kinds. These include reinforcement of the best practices above to reduce potential threats:
- Installing and updating anti-virus software on servers, desktops, and laptop computers
- Regular patching of operating systems and application software
- Firewalls that protect access to networks from unidentified sources or devices
- Password policies and enforcement to prevent unauthorized access to applications
- Enabling two-step authentication (also known as two-factor authentication, or 2FA) on as many systems, applications, and services as possible
- Clear and explicit communication policies on whom to contact when an incident occurs or is suspected
- Conducting an annual penetration test to uncover vulnerabilities and gaps within your security infrastructure
For now, a common way to safeguard against cyberattacks is to make software patches and install them on users’ computers, as necessary. Similarly, virus and malware scanners detect suspicious files and keep them quarantined in dedicated folders on a hard drive. In addition, a manual penetration test will help find vulnerabilities that automated scans will overlook. Hiring a third-party ethical hacker with a hacking mindset will help strengthen your security posture, preventing a costly breach. Research indicates malicious or criminal attacks leading to data breaches are the costliest, resulting in $157 per user expense. So, the longer an attack goes undetected, the more expensive the catastrophe becomes. Insurance and liability against cybercrimes can be extra protection.
Cybercrime and ransomware are a growing threat, and the best defence against them is a comprehensive approach based on proactive planning. Packetlabs has a team of security experts that will help your business identify vulnerabilities and create a complete cyber-attack prevention plan.