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10 Steps to Improve Your Cyber Security

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The Russia-Ukraine crisis has prompted concerns of cyber attacks, especially against critical infrastructure companies. For years, Ukraine has been under near-constant cyber threats from Russia. In 2015 and 2016, Ukraine’s power grid was attacked by cybercriminals and is still vulnerable today. Malware, called NotPetya, was also unleashed in 2017 on the Ukrainian financial, energy, and government sectors, but the impact quickly spread around the world. 

The business implications of conflict in Ukraine will be felt far beyond the region’s borders. Lindy Cameron, CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), says that “cyber attacks do not respect geographic boundaries,” warning that these incidents have international consequences — intentional or not. The following are simple steps to increase your cyber security posture.

1. Apply Patches and Security Updates

Patching is the process of issuing regular security updates to address vulnerabilities in a company’s operating system. Many cybercriminals look to exploit unpatched software as an easy backdoor into your network. It’s important to stay alert to software updates for your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or any other device with known security vulnerabilities, and do not hesitate to click yes.

2. Use Strong Passwords

Cybercriminals can breach a network by simply guessing usernames and passwords, particularly if the organization uses cloud services such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Workspace. You should require employees to set unique passwords, using a combination of numbers, special characters, and upper and lowercase letters for greater security. You may also want to establish a policy that requires users to change passwords regularly — at the very least, quarterly. 

3. Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security to your systems, networks, and data and should be applied to all users. MFA requires a user to provide at least two pieces of identification to gain access to a resource. The benefit of multi-factor authentication is that even if a username and password are compromised, it’s still very difficult for an attacker to access the account. 

4. Teach Phishing Awareness

Phishing scams are one of the most common types of cyber attacks. You should be training your staff on how to identify and report phishing emails for further investigation in order to prevent these attacks. More advanced phishing scams are occurring all the time, so it’s crucial to keep a lookout for news regarding the latest techniques and share this information with your users — people who work with you or for you.

5. Use Antivirus Software and Ensure That It Works

Installing the most up-to-date antivirus software on your devices can significantly reduce the risk of a cyber attack. AV software and firewalls can help detect suspicious links, malware, and other threats distributed by IP addresses. It’s important to install antivirus software on all of your devices and have someone responsible to check that the software is active and properly working.

6. Know Your Network

Information security (infosec) teams should actively identify all devices and users on the network and detect potential suspicious activity. If a user account is accessing files they do not necessarily need for their job or moving them to other irrelevant parts of the network, that may be an indication that the account has been comprised by cybercriminals attempting to plant malware. Moving forward, log your network activity for at least a month to look back on to see where a potential breach may have occurred.

7. Back up Your Network and Test Backups Regularly

Backups are a vital component of cyber resilience. If a cyber attack happens, your data could be compromised or deleted for good. Given the amount of data your company stores on laptops and mobile devices, you might not be able to recover following a breach or attack. Utilize a backup program that allows you to schedule backups at regular intervals and automate the process.

8. Limit Third Party Access to Your Network and Supply Chains

Managing IT networks sometimes requires organizations to bring in outside help, providing third party users with high-level access. Implementing layered security can help minimize vulnerabilities and prevent users from accessing sensitive information. In addition, you should be mindful of the security practices of your suppliers. If one of them is breached, their network could be used as a gateway to the larger target.

9. Have An Incident Response Plan

Planning ahead and running exercises can greatly reduce the impact of a successful cyber attack. If the network is down, how will you communicate a response? You should develop an incident response plan (IRP) involving all departments that outlines what steps to take and who is responsible for collecting, analyzing, and acting upon information gathered from the incident. 

10. Brief the Wider Organization

It is the job of the information security team to know about cyber attacks and how to deal with them. It is unlikely that your employees are familiar with cyber security best practices outside of your security team. Employees from the top-down should be aware of the importance of cyber security and clearly understand how to report suspected security-related events. For a business to be secure, everyone must play a part. 

Expert Cyber Security Consultants in NJ & FL

At Mindcore, we help enhance your organization’s cyber security to minimize business disruptions so you can focus on your most important goals and objectives. Our cyber security consultants in New Jersey and Florida will create a personalized defense strategy and assess, monitor, and manage your critical IT infrastructure 24/7. To schedule a consultation, contact us today.

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Matt Rosenthal is CEO and President of Mindcore, a full-service tech firm. He is a leader in the field of cyber security, designing and implementing highly secure systems to protect clients from cyber threats and data breaches. He is an expert in cloud solutions, helping businesses to scale and improve efficiency.

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