Cybersecurity has become a top priority for businesses and organizations of all sizes. As cyber threats continue to increase in sophistication, frequency, and impact, it is crucial to implement robust cybersecurity strategies and measures. In this article, we will examine the top 4 most essential cybersecurity strategies that every organization should have in place.
Implement a Strong Password Policy
One of the most basic yet critical cybersecurity strategies is having a strong password policy in place. Weak, reused, or compromised passwords are involved in over 80% of hacking related breaches. Here are some best practices for password policies:
- Require minimum 8 character passwords
- Mandate the use of special characters, numbers, uppercase, and lowercase letters
- Prohibit password reuse across accounts
- Require frequent password changes every 60-90 days
- Utilize password managers to generate and store strong unique passwords
- Enforce multi-factor authentication for accessing sensitive data or accounts
- Educate employees on importance of password hygiene through cybersecurity training
By requiring employees to utilize lengthy, complex, and unique passwords that are regularly changed, organizations can greatly improve security against brute force and dictionary hacking attempts.
Keep Software and Systems Updated
Cyber criminals are constantly searching for and exploiting vulnerabilities in outdated software and systems. Implementing regular updates and patches as soon as they become available is imperative. Some key software and systems to keep updated include:
- Operating systems – Install the latest OS updates which contain critical security patches
- Web browsers – Browsers like Chrome, Firefox, Safari should be kept updated
- Office productivity software – Update Microsoft Office, Adobe apps, etc.
- Firmware and BIOS – Update firmware on network devices and BIOS on computers
- Databases – Update MySQL, Oracle, MongoDB, etc. to latest secure versions
- Servers – Update web, email, file and other servers being utilized
- Networking devices – Routers, switches, firewalls should have latest firmware
- IoT and OT devices – Update internet connected devices and operational technology
- Mobile devices – Install latest iOS, Android, etc. operating system updates
While it may seem tedious, developing a regular patch management program to deploy software, system and security updates quickly can make the organization far more resilient to cyber attacks aimed at known vulnerabilities.
Endpoints refer to the numerous customer and employee devices like desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets that are connected to the corporate network. Securing endpoints should be a top priority considering how frequently they are targeted and compromised by hackers. Some key endpoint security measures include:
- Installing antivirus/anti-malware software to block threats
- Enabling firewalls and intrusion prevention systems
- Monitoring endpoints for suspicious activity
- Encrypting devices to protect data if stolen/lost
- Prohibit unauthorized devices from connecting to network
- Utilize mobile device management (MDM) to secure mobile endpoints
- Regularly patch and update endpoint operating systems
- Require strong passwords/passcodes to access devices
- Enable remote wipe capabilities to erase data from lost/stolen devices
The principle of least privilege should be used – limit employees to only the system/data access they absolutely require for their role. Continuously monitoring, hardening and securing endpoints is key to reducing organizational risk.
Employee Cybersecurity Training
Employees are the hardest cybersecurity risk to lock down. Through social engineering tactics like phishing emails, hackers frequently target employees as the weakest link and entry point into an organization. Ongoing employee cybersecurity awareness training is crucial to human firewall your business. Training should cover:
- Spotting phishing emails
- Strong password creation
- Safe web browsing habits
- Identifying social engineering attacks
- Safe usage of company devices and networks
- Data protection and compliance protocols
- How to report suspicious activity
Complement employee training with simulated phishing and social engineering tests to identify knowledge gaps and further educate staff. Awareness training should be continuously provided to keep employees alert of the latest cyber risks and response procedures.
Backup Critical Data
Despite an organization’s best efforts, cyber attacks can and will happen. When they do, one of the most crippling issues is data loss or encryption due to malware like ransomware. Maintaining recent backups of critical business and customer data is imperative for recovery when things go wrong. Some tips for effective data backup include:
- Perform regular automated backups of servers, databases, files, productivity software etc.
- Enable versioning so previous versions can be accessed as needed
- Store backups separately from production systems, such as the cloud
- Encrypt backups to ensure confidentiality
- Test restoration of backups periodically for viability
- Ensure compliance with regulatory retention and recovery time requirements
With strong, redundant backups, organizations can quickly restore data and continue operations with minimal disruption after an attack.
Implementing these top 4 cybersecurity strategies – strong passwords, software updates, securing endpoints, training employees, and backing up data – will provide a robust defense for organizations against ever-evolving cyber threats. While no single solution can provide 100% protection, following cybersecurity best practices enables organizations to balance productivity and connectivity with the appropriate level of security diligence. Along with good security policies and the right technology tools, educating and empowering employees is the most valuable impact companies can make to strengthen their human firewall. Ongoing commitment to cyber safety by leadership and personnel creates a security-first culture necessary for long term business success.