In a rapidly evolving business, cyber security emerged as the Top on the list of concerns. As more businesses are moving their services and data online, they are putting themselves at risk for cyber-attacks.
At the frontline of this digital war against cybercrime, organizations must create resistance by implementing cyber security measures and best cyber security practices. The organization needs to take measures to prevent cybercrime.
Cyber-attacks are leading to compromise systems, accesses, and data from where the attackers can leverage critical assets to take advantage either with respect to monetary benefit, grudges, or political influences ranging from stolen credit card or bank account information, identity theft, phishing, ransomware, etc.
Robust cyber security measures, policies, and procedures developed by Individuals with top Cyber Security certifications can save the organization from monetary loss. Effective cyber-security processes not only safeguard the company's critical assets company but also create a shield from reputational risk. The question often arises in every forum, "how to prevent cyber-attacks," and honestly, it is not too tough. Rather, if any Organization follows the common cyber security protocol, the incident will be much lesser.
What are Cyber Security Measures?
Cyber Security is a preparation of defending critical systems and Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or Sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (SPII) from cyber-attack.
In 2021, data breach means cost increased by 2.6% from USD 4.24 million in 2021 to USD 4.35 million in 2022. The average cost has increased by 12.7% from USD 3.86 million in the 2020 report.
These charges include the costs of finding and addressing the breach, the price of downtime and lost revenue, and the long-term reputational harm to a company and its brand.
Security system complexity, created by incongruent technologies and a lack of in-house skills, can magnify these costs. But organizations with a broad cybersecurity strategy, administered by best practices, Ethical Hacking training to individuals, and automated using advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML), can fight cyber threats more efficiently and reduce the lifecycle and impact of breaches when they arise.
Why is Cyber Security important?
Cyber Security is imperative as digital assets are susceptible. With so much dependency on online transactions starting from ordering groceries and other items to accessing bank accounts and using credit cards for various activities, 75% of people nowadays are vulnerable to cyber-attacks.
Big organizations with ample amounts of valuable data are not the lone targets in the cyber world, and security breaches happen to small and medium enterprises as well as to normal individuals. Cyber security is equally important to everybody, as anyone can be a target.
Enterprises nowadays developed protocols and segregate best cyber security practices for cyber security measures essentially into two different categories:
- Common Cyber Security Measures
- Essential Cyber Security Measures
Common Cyber Security Measures
Cybercrime is constructed around the well-organized exploitation of weaknesses, and the cyber security teams are always a hindrance because they must protect all possible entrances while an attacker only needs to discover and exploit one weakness or vulnerability. As described earlier, some of the common best cyber security practices for cyber security and cyber-attack prevention measures are as follows:
1. Secure Configuration
Removal of or disabling of redundant functionality from systems and rapidly fixing known weaknesses or vulnerabilities through patching.
2. Network Security
Decrease the chances of existing systems and technologies being attacked by developing and implementing simple policies and appropriate architectural and technical responses.
3. Malware Prevention
Malicious Software or malware is an umbrella term to cover any code or content that could have a malicious, adverse impact on systems. Any altercation of information carries with it a degree of risk that malware might be substituted. This could seriously impact the organization's systems and services. The risk may be reduced by developing and implementing appropriate anti-malware tools.
4. Managing Identity and Access Management
All users should be provided with an appropriate level of system privileges and rights as per their roles and responsibilities. The granting of privileged access should be carefully measured and managed. A periodical user access review should be in the scope of the IT Audit.
5. Removable Media Control
All digital assets should be hardened from all possible data loss and credential theft. An IT Policy to control all access to removable media, limiting media types and their usage. A periodical scan and access log review for all media before importing data onto the systems.
6. Virtual Private Network (VPN) for Work from Home (WFH) Employees
The prime importance of a VPN is that it hides IP addresses which essentially restricts attackers from performing a DDoS attack. VPN encrypts web traffic by creating a tunnel between the computer and the network, which hides activities from the Internet Service Provider (ISP).
7. User Education, Awareness, and Training
Users have a vital role to play in their organization's security posture. It is an essential measure to educate employees with respect to cyber threats and data leakage to ensure employees can do their job as well as help to keep the organization secure.
10 Cyber Security Measures that Every Small Business Should Take
Every organization should follow best cyber security practices for cyber security control measures to maintain cyber hygiene and protect from emerging cyber-attacks. The following 10 best cyber security practices can help the organization secure their systems and data:
- Keep software and hardware up to date.
- Use Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware Software
- Deploy a Firewall to block Unwanted Network Traffic
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to privatize the Network Connection
- Set Strong Password
- Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
- Employ Device Encryption
- Avoid using suspicious emails.
- Back up data regularly
- Educate Employees about Cybersecurity Awareness
Essential Cyber Security Measures
Cybercrime is now an industry that produces over USD 1 trillion in revenue for cybercrime and criminals. Hackers are nowadays not only after bank accounts. They are targeting medium and small enterprises to damage systems, stealing data and proprietary information using malware. Organizations are currently taking effective steps to defend their assets from cyber-attacks and hence taking cyber security preventive measures. Some of the essential tips for cyber safety and best practices for cyber security control measures are described below:
1. Use strong and complex passwords
All passwords (e.g., email, web, desktop computer, laptop, mobile device, etc.) should be accommodated with strong passwords. In general, a password's strength will increase with the length, complexity, and frequency of changes. Bigger risks require a delicate level of protection. Tougher passwords amplified with alternate cyber security control measures such as Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) should be used in every device. All passwords must meet the subsequent guidelines to ensure information security controls are in place:
- It should contain at least eight (8) alphanumeric characters.
- It must contain at least two (2) non-alphabetic characters and at least three (3) alphabetic characters.
- At least one (1) alphabetic character should be in upper-case, and at least one (1) must be in lower-case.
- Passwords should not consist of a single word in any dictionary, language, slang, dialect, jargon, etc.
- Passwords cannot consist of easily guessed or obtained personal information, names of family members, pets, etc.
- The same passwords should not be used in multiple systems.
- Passwords should be changed every 90 days (max attempt)
- There should be a limit for password attempts (max 5 attempts), and subsequently, account lock-out features.
- Organizations should enforce password history requirements to ensure that a set no. of unique passwords are used before old passwords can be used again. Best practices suggest configuring passwords history to the last 24 passwords.
2. Keep Your Software Up to Date
To prevent known vulnerabilities from being exploited, software and applications must be kept up to date. This fundamentally means installing patches released by the software developers to close security bugs found in their products. Essentially patching refers to updating the software and applications to address old vulnerabilities with respect to cyber security threats and preventive measures. Cybercrime is a dynamic field, with offenders repeatedly coming up with new ways to penetrate systems. Therefore, cybersecurity must also be a continuous effort, hence the importance of updating software.
3. Use Anti-Virus Protection
Antivirus software is a program or set of programs that are intended to prevent, search for, detect, and remove viruses and other malicious software like worms, trojans, spyware, and more. Viruses and Malware can be programmed to cause damage to your device, prevent a user from accessing data, or take control of your computer. Antivirus software is designed to perform some essential functions, such as:
- Scan specific files or directories for any malware or known malicious patterns.
- Allow users / administrators to schedule automatic scans to identify cyber security threats and preventive measures.
- Allow initiating a scan of a particular file, the entire computer, and removable drives.
- Remove any malicious code detected either automatically or manually.
- Show the complete "Health" status of the device.
4. Use Two-Factor or Multi-Factor Authentication
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is an encrusted approach protecting data and applications where a system needs a user to present a combination of two or more credentials to confirm a user's identity for login. MFA increases safety because even if one credential becomes compromised, unauthorized users will be incapable of encountering the second verification requirement and cannot access the targeted physical space, computing device, network, or database.
5. Access Control to data and systems
Access control is a data and systems security process that permits Organizations to accomplish who is authorized to access corporate systems, data, and resources. Secure access control uses policies that verify users are who they claim to be and ensures appropriate control access levels are granted to users. At a high level, access control is about restricting access to a resource. Any access control system, whether physical or logical, has five (5) main components:
- Authentication: This involves authenticating personal identity documents, confirming the authenticity of a website with a digital certificate, or checking login details against stored data.
- Authorization: The function of postulating access rights or privileges to resources. As an example, HR staff are usually accredited to access employee data, and this policy is usually formalized as access control rules in the system.
- Access: Once authenticated and allowed, the person or computer can access the resources.
- Manage: Validating an access control system includes adding and eliminating authentication and approval of users or systems. Some systems will be orchestrated with AWS or Azure Active Directory, rationalizing the management process.
- Audit: Frequently used as part of access control to impose the principle of least privilege. When user change roles can end up with access they no longer need. Hence, regular audits minimize this risk.
6. Put up a firewall
An organization's security policy is used to monitor and filter incoming and outgoing network traffic through a firewall, which is a network security device. Basically, a firewall is fundamentally the barricade that sits between an internal network and the public Internet. The main purpose of a firewall is to allow non-threatening traffic in and to keep unsafe traffic out.
7. Use security software
Security software is a necessity for the cyber security and privacy of a business or individual. Security software monitors and prevents threats and safeguards Organizations from damage. Cybersecurity Software can be categorized into different types as mentioned below:
- Network Security Monitoring tools
- Encryption Tools
- Web Vulnerability Scanning tools
- Network Defense Wireless Tools
- Packet Sniffers
- Endpoint Detection and Response Services (EDR)
- Managed Detection and Response Services (MDR)
- Penetration Testing (PT)
8. programs and systems regularly
Software updates include repairing security holes that have been exposed and fixing or removing computer bugs. Updates can add new features to devices and remove outdated ones. Regular software updates help to patch security flaws. It also helps to protect data from malicious agents.
9. Learn about Phishing Scams and be very suspicious of emails, phone calls, and flyers
Phishing is a cybercrime that influences deceptive emails, websites, and text messages to steal confidential personal information. Victims are deceived into giving up personal information such as their phone number, mailing address, credit card data, banking information, KYC details etc. This information is then used by offenders to steal the victim's identity and commit further crimes using this stolen identity, such as Stealing bank transaction passwords from users or Stealing login credentials from users. Fundamentally, there are 4 types of phishing which are categorized below:
- Spear Phishing: A Spear Phishing attack occurs when a phishing attempt is made to trick a specific person rather than a group of people. The perpetrators either already know some information about the static target or they aim to gather that information to advance their objectives.
- Whaling: Whaling is a sub-type of Spear Phishing and typically targets business executives. The difference with spear phishing is that whaling targets specific persons such as CEOs, CFOs, celebrities, and high-net-worth individuals. The account information of these high-end targets typically provides an entrance to more information and substantial money.
- Smishing: Smishing is a sub-type of phishing attack deployed via text message. This genre of phishing attack gets more clarity because of the notification the individual receives, and more individuals are likely to read a text message than an email. With the increasing popularity of messaging between individuals and businesses, Smishing has been progressively popular among attackers among attackers.
- Vishing: Vishing is a type of cyber-attack in which voice communication is used to steal confidential data from a group of people. In vishing, the attacker tricks the target into giving sensitive information through a voice call pretending to be an employee from a related and trusted firm.
10. Protect Your Sensitive Personal Identifiable Information (PII / SPII)
Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and Sensitive PII is any information that permits the identity of an individual to be directly or indirectly inferred, including any information which is linked or linkable to an individual. Some PII is not sensitive, such as that found on a business card. Other PII, which is sensitive in nature and, if misplaced, compromised, or revealed without authorization, could result in considerable harm, discomfiture, inconvenience, or unfairness to an individual.
- The Data Privacy Framework should define which security controls the organization needs to have in place to prevent data loss or data leak:
- Data Loss Prevention - Implement systems that can track sensitive data transferred within or outside the organization and identify unusual patterns that might indicate a breach.
- Data Masking - Ensuring that data is stored or transmitted with the minimal required details for the specific transaction, with sensitive details masked or omitted.
- Privileged User Monitoring - Monitoring all privileged access to files and databases, user creation, and newly granted privileges, blocking and alerting when suspicious activity is detected.
- Sensitive Data Access Auditing - To monitor activities by privileged users, auditing all access to sensitive data should be in place, and if identified, anomalous activity accesses to be blocked for all incoming traffic until the incident is resolved.
- User Rights Management - Identifying excessive, inappropriate, or unused user privileges and taking corrective action, such as removing user accounts that have not been used for several months.
11. Monitor for Intrusion
An Intrusion Detection System (IDS) is a monitoring system that detects suspicious activities and generates alerts when they are detected. Based on these alerts, a Security Operations Centre (SOC) analyst or incident responder can investigate the issue and take the appropriate actions to remediate the threat. Intrusion Detection Systems are designed to be deployed in different environments. An IDS can either be Host-Based or Network-Based.
- Host-Based IDS (HIDS): A host-based IDS is installed on a particular endpoint and intended to protect it against internal and external threats and attacks. Such an IDS may have the power to monitor network traffic to and from the machine, indicate running processes, and inspect the system's logs. A host-based IDS' perceptibility is limited to its host machine, declining the available context for decision-making, but has profound visibility into the host computer's internals.
- Network-Based IDS (NIDS): A network-based IDS solution is intended to check a whole protected network. It has perceptibility into all streams of traffic flowing through the network and makes purposes based on packet metadata and contents. This broader viewpoint delivers more context and the ability to detect prevalent threats and attacks; however, these systems have deficient visibility into the internals of the endpoints they shield.
12. Use Public Wi-Fi
The biggest threat to public Wi-Fi is the ability of the hacker to position himself between you and the connection point. So instead of talking directly with the hotspot, the user sends their information to the hacker, who then relays it. While working in this setup, the hacker has access to every piece of information that sending out on the Internet, such as important emails, credit card information, and even security credentials to any business network. Once the hacker has that information, he can access the target system and perform malicious activities. Hence, it is a risky affair to use free public Wi-Fi anywhere. Instead, public Wi-Fi can be used if and only if it's encrypted and has a Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) protocol. Else, it is suggested to refrain from using the same.
13. Raise awareness
Cyber Security awareness implies empowering people connected to the business to perform their role in protecting the organization from potential security threats. By creating a cyber security awareness culture, organizations can ensure that their employees and vendors are conscious of cyber threats. Cyber Security awareness implies empowering people connected to the business to perform their role in protecting Organization from potential security threats. By creating a cyber security awareness culture, Organizations can ensure that their employees and vendors are conscious of cyber threats.
14. Review Your Online Accounts & Credit Reports Regularly for Changes
With growing cybercrimes in this digital era, it is important to protect Online Accounts and Credit Reports from various Credit Rating Companies. An individual's online Accounts and Credit Reports carry Personal Identifiable Information (PII), which cybercriminals can use for various cybercrime like phishing scams. Hence, account holders must lock their Credit Reports with Personal Identification No. (PIN) to protect data from perpetrators like phishing scams, hence, account holders must lock their Credit Reports with Personal Identification No. (PIN) to protect data from perpetrators.
15. Backup Your Data Regularly
The objective of the backup is to make a copy of data that can be recovered on the occasion of a primary data failure. Primary data fiascos can be the result of hardware or software disasters, data corruption, or a human-induced event, such as a malicious attack (virus or malware) or accidental removal of data. To help the company in recovering from an unplanned incident, backup copies allow data to be restored to an earlier time point. Storing the copy of the data on the detached medium is critical to defending against prime data loss or exploitation.
Top Causes of Cyber Security Breaches
Below are the Top and most common reasons for Cyber Security breaches identified across this digital world:
- Security Misconfiguration - Misconfigured security settings could expose sensitive customer records. Through misconfigured security settings, millions of users could then be exposed to potential cyberattacks.
- Social Engineering - Social engineering is the use of psychosomatic manipulation in order to take sensitive identification data from targets. Phishing is the utmost common type of social engineering attack, happening either orally or electronically.
- Application / Software Vulnerabilities – Application or Software Vulnerabilities, like zero-day exploits, create suitable ways into sensitive resources. Once exploited, these exposures could lead to a number of security incidents, including unauthorized access, malware attacks, social media account compromise, and even credit card theft.
- Insider Threats – Internal disgruntled employees can cause threats to the organization by leaking sensitive data or allowing outside threats into Organizational perimeters by simply disobeying the security policies. Insider threats are more vulnerable than External attacks as, over time, the same remain unidentified.
- Weak and Stolen Credentials - Stolen passwords are one of the simplest and most common causes of data breaches. Even moderately secure passwords can be cracked with the help of computer programs that run through millions of the most popular credentials.
- Physical Theft of Sensitive Devices - Company devices comprise sensitive information, and when these devices fall into the incorrect hands, they can be leveraged to enable security breaches or steal identity, leading to security violations.
- Malware - Malware is, by definition, malicious software loaded without intention that opens up access for a hacker to exploit a system and potentially other connected systems. Directly or indirectly, it is a major cause of cyber security breaches.
Professionals can earn KnowledgeHut of top Cyber Security certifications and deploy effective strategies to safeguard Organizations from unknown cyber-attacks.
Cyber Security is a never-ending battle. Threats will evolve as adversaries adopt new tools and techniques to compromise security. Cyber Security is, therefore, an ongoing process that needs to evolve as new threats are identified.
Organizations are finding themselves under the pressure of being forced to react quickly to the dynamically increasing number of cybersecurity threats. Since the attackers have been using an attack life cycle. The security of Systems, Networks, and Data is interdependent. In view of that, to protect against cybercrime and take measures to prevent cybercrime, cyber security measures are needed that are designed to protect data and user privacy. Hence, organizations should design a vulnerability management life cycle in the quickest and most effective way.