How Has Your Cybersecurity Awareness Improved?

December 11, 2018 Eric Dosal Eric Dosal

Cybersecurity Awareness Month has officially ended, and now seems to be as good a time as any to pause and reflect on the events of the month from a security awareness perspective. With that in mind, I have a question for you: “What have YOU learned and how has your cybersecurity awareness improved?”

Before you answer that question, here are a few highlights from Compuquip’s own Cybersecurity Awareness Month posts, including a few cybersecurity awareness tips and general cybersecurity advice:

What Your Biggest Cyber Risks Are

In the post titled “What Cybersecurity Nightmares Should Worry You the Most?” I outlined a few of the biggest “nightmare scenarios” that a company may have to face, as well as tips for countering these cyber threats:

  1. Massive Data Security Breaches. Major data breaches are a constant presence in online news headlines. While no defense will be 100% secure against all attacks, companies can mitigate their data breach risk by using network segmentation to create defense-in-depth, clearing sensitive data from individual user terminals/access points, and training employees to recognize phishing attacks meant to steal their user credentials.

  2. Data Loss. From ransomware attacks, to natural disasters, to employees accidentally hitting the “delete” key at the wrong time, there are many ways for a company to lose access to its data. Implementing data loss prevention plans that leverage data backup and even cloud-based platform services can be key to ensuring business continuity.

  3. Distributed Denial of Service Attacks. DDoS attacks can cripple a company’s ability to do business and deliver critical services to its clients for an extended period of time. A key strategy for countering DDoS attacks is to inspect your business network for single points of failure and to create redundancy so no one system’s failure could bring down your whole network.

Your Remote Employees Are Your Biggest IT Security Threat

It is a fact of business that a company’s employees are simultaneously the most important part of their cybersecurity strategy—and said strategy’s weakest link. However, remote employees represent an even bigger cybersecurity risk than most internal employees. As I noted in the blog titled “Here’s Why Your Remote Workers Are Your Biggest IT Security Threat,” remote employees have every weakness your internal employees have when it comes to cyber threats, plus:

  • Mobile Malware. Remote workers connecting via a smartphone or tablet app may introduce malware through their infected mobile device.

  • Unsecured Public Wi-Fi. Remote employees often use free public Wi-Fi at cafes, malls, and other public spaces because it’s cheap and convenient. This increases their vulnerability to having their data hijacked by malicious actors.

  • Use of Personal Devices for Work. Employees often use personally-owned devices when working remotely rather than company-owned ones. This means the company has little to no direct control over what security measures (if any) are installed on the device—leading to data compromise risks if the device is lost or stolen.

Some potential solutions to the above challenges, aside from simply banning remote work, include using virtual private networks (VPNs) to anonymize your remote workers’ traffic, applying multifactor authentication (MFA), and requiring remote employees to install mobile device management apps on their personal devices if they’re going to be used for work.

Warning Signs That You’ve Fallen Victim to a Cyber Threat

In another post published during Cybersecurity Awareness Month, I listed out a few of the major warning signs that your network has been impacted by a cyber threat:

  1. Sudden increases in system crashes/bugs
  2. The appearance of pop-ups
  3. Abnormal traffic on workstations during off hours
  4. Mass email sends from employees who don’t typically send them
  5. Degraded network or router performance

Each of these warning signs may indicate a different kind of attack, thus requiring a different kind of response. This is part of the reason why raising cybersecurity awareness throughout your organization is so important—as is preparing your incident response plan (IRP) ahead of time.

Ransomware Prevention Strategies

Although ransomware has been on the decline throughout 2018, it’s still important to be prepared to deal with this particular cyber threat. In the post “Everything You Need to Know About Preventing Ransomware Attacks,” I covered a few basic strategies for counteracting a ransomware attack before it can even begin, including:

  • Setting Up Remote Data Backups. Having a remote backup of your data lets you simply reformat or replace a corrupted drive and download the lost data from the backup.

  • Creating Incident Response Plans. It’s one thing to have a backup—it’s another thing to know what to do to use it effectively. Having an IRP in place for a ransomware strike is crucial for minimizing the impact of this cyber threat.

  • Training Employees in Cybersecurity Awareness. Attackers often try to exploit a lack of cybersecurity awareness among employees to trick them into downloading ransomware (as well as other malwares). Providing cybersecurity training designed to increase awareness of phishing threats helps beef up your company’s human firewall and prevent accidental ransomware downloads.

Paired with frequent testing—of both your network security protections and your employees’ cybersecurity awareness—these measures can help you minimize the risk and impact of a ransomware attack.

Build Cybersecurity Awareness By Optimizing Your Threat Intelligence

In one of the earliest blogs I wrote during Cybersecurity Awareness Month, I highlighted how to create an effective threat intelligence framework. Having an effective means of gathering information about emerging cybersecurity threats is crucial for not only building cybersecurity awareness, but also for improving your ability to respond to specific cyber threats.

To summarize, the process of building an effective threat intelligence framework involves:

  1. Defining what you need to protect;
  2. Setting specific goals for what you want to achieve using the framework;
  3. Continuous refinement of cyber threat feeds; and
  4. If necessary, getting expert help.

I hope that you found some of the content that Compuquip has posted over the course of Cybersecurity Awareness Month to be helpful and informative. If you need help improving cybersecurity awareness (or cybersecurity in general) for your organization, please contact us!

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