From a digital and biological perspective, last year proved to be a perilous and challenging year. The pandemic, coupled with an ecosystem of remote work, brought about a wave of cyber-attacks and breaches. Hackers took advantage of gaps in remote work environments and affected many businesses and individuals nationwide. Although 2020 affected us in many different ways, it gave us a wake-up call for better pandemic preparedness, specifically cybersecurity preparedness.
With most businesses operating remotely in 2021, protecting your business and crucial personal information will be imperative. Here are actions to take and things to look out for this year to protect your business and data.
Learn, Stay Updated
For better cybersecurity preparedness, the first step is to educate yourself. It starts with having a risk management perspective. Find different sources to learn from. Gain insight from various informational resources and technology experts. Network and connect with those who have experience or expertise that matches your cybersecurity needs.
Create a Cybersecurity Framework
Explore different frameworks, such as NIST CSF, CIS 20, or ISO/IEC 27001. These frameworks are designed to provide guidance for improving and building your cybersecurity program. Before deciding on a proper framework for your business, you should take into consideration:
- The maturity of your current cyber risk security program
- Your company policies and goals
- Any regulation requirements you have to comply with
With the help of cybersecurity frameworks, your company can obtain a secure and safe cyber state and achieve a more resilient cyber program.
Adopt Basic Cyber-Hygiene
Cyber hygiene refers to standard measures that you should take to protect your company. For example, these questions will help ensure that necessary criteria are being met:
- Does your company have strong passwords and multi-factor authentication in place? And if so, how often do your employees change/replace their passwords?
- Is your key data backed up?
- Is the WiFi secure and reliable?
- How often do anti-virus software applications update?
- Do you regularly patch security flaws as they arise?
Pay Attention to Social Engineering Threats
There’s a lot of information out on the web, especially social information, and hackers will find ways to reach out to you with malware through phishing. Therefore, anytime employees receive an email, they should look for who it’s from without opening any suspicious files. Employees should always be alert for suspicious emails and operate out of zero-trust when facing threats like these.
Pay Attention to IoT Devices
Every IoT device presents an opportunity for a cyberattack. Considering that many employees and companies are operating remotely, devices such as laptops, computers, smartphones, tablets, and storage devices are increasingly vulnerable to hackers. A Comcast report found that the average household is hit with 104 threats each month, and what makes it worse is that most of these devices are connected. As a result, it can pose a higher risk to your company. To stay safe. an important step is to regularly change default passwords on every IoT device that is on your network.
Outsource Security Services
If you have a small to medium-sized business, it might be in your best interest to outsource your cybersecurity services. Outside cybersecurity expertise can perform regular vulnerability assessments and provide tailored solutions to your company and industry.
Implement a VPN for Employees
Since you and your employees are most likely working remotely, you might want to consider a virtual private network (VPN) for your company.
A VPN is a unique private network that gives its users online privacy and anonymity while using a public internet connection. They mask your internet protocol (IP) address so web browsers can’t trace online actions. In addition, VPN services allow for secure and encrypted connections that provide greater privacy. As a result, you and your employees can surf the web without being identified by third parties.
What exactly does a VPN hide?
- Browsing history: A VPN will prevent your browsing history from being tracked.
- IP address and location: Users can maintain their online privacy and search the web anonymously.
- Your location for streaming: Users can stream freely knowing that their location isn’t tracked.
- Devices: A VPN helps protect the data you send and receive on your devices.
Also, when choosing a VPN for your company, ask these questions:
- Do they respect your privacy?
- Where are the servers located?
- Do they run the most up-to-date protocol?
- Can you set up a VPN on multiple devices?
- Do they set data limits?
- How much will it cost?
These questions will help you pick the best VPN that encompasses your company’s specific needs and wants.
These steps will help guide your company into a year of safety, security, and a healthy cyber environment. No matter what steps you take, nobody is entirely invulnerable to security breaches; however, there are always ways that we can better protect ourselves. Here’s to a healthier and safer 2021!