In your daily routine, where you have tight deadlines, lots of data to transfer, and valuable relationships to maintain, cybersecurity might not be the first thing on your mind. However, with the transition to digital platforms and the advent of the work-from-home era, a cybersecurity mindset can help you navigate your tasks comfortably and efficiently while protecting yourself and your company from cyberattacks.
Based on current trends, we would like to discuss some risks you could face and share habits you can adopt for an active prevention plan.
Cyberattacks: What are they?
Cybersecurity concerns every individual, but recently, attackers have been targeting big corporations and their employees, seriously disrupting their supply chain network and compromising their data.
The first step in preventing these existing attacks is to be able to identify them. Here are a few of the cybersecurity threats you might be facing in 2021:
Phishing is a popular method for attackers to obtain sensitive information from you. Attackers will send you an e-mail with a link or an attachment, prompting you to provide your password or other personal data. Because the attackers sometimes disguise themselves as a legitimate company, the page you will be looking at might not seem suspicious. Once you share your information, the attackers can then use it to access your accounts. Depending on the type of information you disclose, attackers might use additional methods, such as malware, to attack your entire network.
Malware, also known as malicious software, is meant to infect your computer and take partial or full control of your system. This attack can be tricky because it can happen without your knowledge, from clicking links and ads or downloading files and apps on any of your devices. Attackers might then steal or manipulate any sensitive data.
Ransomware is a form of malware prompting you to pay a fee to stop your data from being leaked and to reclaim your device or files. Attackers often use this method as an easy way to get large sums of money by threatening large organizations. Paying the ransom will not always give you back access to your data, which is why prevention and proper backup storage are crucial concerning this type of attack.
Social engineering involves psychologically manipulating individuals to reveal personal information via e-mail, websites, or voice mails. This method relies heavily on appealing to your desires or playing with your emotions, usually fear or excitement. Sometimes, attackers will present themselves as people you know or would like to connect with to gain your trust and access your data. If something you come across on the web seems too good to be true or happens unexpectedly, such as an urgent situation or a life-changing offer, it might be an act of social engineering.
What are tips in cyber security?
The following cybersecurity safety tips will help you tackle the digital security risks of today.
Keep your software up-to-date
The three main reasons to update your software apps are new features, bug fixes, and security upgrades. By keeping your software updated to the latest version, you make sure that all vulnerabilities present in past versions have been dealt with.
Don’t neglect your hardware
Old computer hardware can reduce a system’s ability to deal with security issues. Not only is old hardware slower to respond to cyber-attacks, but it also may not support the most recent software security upgrades.
Never open suspicious emails
More often than not, suspicious emails are phishing scams. A phishing attack allows malicious actors to gain access to personal information such as your social security number. In some cases, these emails may contain attachments that can infect computers or mobile devices.
Double-check before clicking on a link
Malicious attacks can also come in the form of faulty links. A link can easily be disguised as something else, leading you to open the gates to malicious activity accidentally. By hovering over a link, you’re able to see its target URL.
Put more effort into your passwords
Good password management is essential if you wish to avoid data breaches and other security threats. Strong passwords only take a minute or two to create but can add a much-needed extra layer of security.
Use two-factor authentication
Enabling two-factor authentication will keep your online accounts safer. This protective measure helps verify your identity whenever you enter your account, preventing unauthorized access.
Avoid public networks
When using a public network, you’re sharing a connection with everyone else in the network. The information you send and receive is out in the open and vulnerable to third parties with malicious intent.
Train your workforce
If your employees are not aware of potential threats, they may not be able to notice abnormal activity or, even worse, make a careless mistake that leads to a cyber threat. If you wish to have the most secure systems, you should make sure you provide training in cyber security for individuals who work with you.
Implement secure file-sharing solutions
If you’re working with a secure file-sharing solution, you’re also working alongside cybersecurity professionals ready to deal with any security risks. In contrast to emails and social media accounts, information sent via secure-file sharing systems is heavily encrypted, which means it can’t be intercepted.
What are the main concerns about cybersecurity?
An increase in cyber-attacks
Unfortunately, every day someone else learns how to write malicious code. The frequency of cyber-attacks has risen considerably in recent years and new forms of malicious attacks are constantly being created. Nowadays, the range of types of cyber attacks is surprisingly varied. Some malicious individuals opt for social engineering attacks, using psychological manipulation to confuse a person into opening up to an attack. Others use machine learning and automation techniques to break through passwords and other security measures.
Cloud security in remote work environments
While the dramatic shift to remote work caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has led to increased productivity and job satisfaction, it has created a new avenue for cyber-criminals to operate. The personal devices of remote employees have become a company’s first line of defense against malware attacks. As businesses adopt cloud solutions to support their remote workforce, cyber threat actors look for vulnerabilities and security gaps.
Ransomware groups create malware that prevents you from making use of your own computer or accessing your information. These are very expensive threats and can cause dire collateral damage. For example, the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack caused major supply chain disruptions along the US East Coast (source).
Mobile device threats
The widespread use of mobile devices also poses a security risk. IoT devices such as smartphones, smartwatches, and even fitness trackers make it easier for hackers to use cyberespionage tools such as Pegasus. While this type of software is commonly only employed by governments and law enforcement, it has also been abused by other third parties.
Mobile malware has become one of the top cyber security concerns. Mobile malware Trojans like FlyTrap and Triada can take advantage of social media, SMS phishing, or app store security controls to gain permissions on devices.
Creating good habits: What can you do?
To protect yourself from cyberattacks, you can build a cybersecurity mindset with a few simple and effective habits.
Use multi-factor authentication and manage your passwords
To keep your devices, accounts, and networks secure, avoid using weak or old passwords. You can get into this habit by resetting your passwords regularly, which some companies have required their employees to do every three months.
Multi-factor authentication ensures that only you can access your data and allows you to have multiple layers of protection, leaving attackers with more barriers to overcome. When setting up your accounts, you can ask to include an SMS code, a fingerprint, or sometimes facial recognition when logging in to restrict access.
Communicate with team members regularly and avoid opening unfamiliar e-mails, attachments, or links
As attackers have developed more advanced techniques to access your data, you must pay close attention to your communication platforms. Phishing and methods such as social engineering mean you might be less likely to notice a cyberattack attempt as attackers try to create an appealing front, often pretending to be a new customer or an existing team member.
To help prepare your team for cyberattacks, encourage a culture where everyone feels comfortable reporting suspicious communications and raising concerns when in doubt.
Use cloud storage to back up your files.
Regardless of the size of your company, cloud storage can be beneficial as is it gives you a chance to access your data anytime and anywhere. If your data gets stolen or deleted, cloud storage will save you lots of time and money and prepare you for worst-case scenarios.
Avoid mixing personal and business e-mail accounts
When working from home, it is common for people to use one account for multiple purposes. For example, you might sign up for newsletters or download apps with your professional e-mail account. While this action seems harmless, you could risk leaking business data and damaging your reputation, costing your organization a lot of money. To protect your data and privacy, ensure that you are only using your professional account for business purposes, and if possible, consider using a separate device as well.
Be careful when using public Wi-Fi.
Public Wi-Fi might allow malicious individuals to access your data through various methods. You might want to adjust your settings and turn off auto-join Wi-Fi and sharing. If you would like to connect to public Wi-Fi, installing a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to protect your privacy would be best.
What’s next: Continue increasing awareness through collaboration
To help staff feel more at ease when working digitally, incorporating cybersecurity training can eliminate a lot of worries. Involving all departments can also bring everyone in your team to work together and inspire a productive, healthy, and secure work environment.
The need to stay on top of cyber security
We hope you can share these tips with anyone who might need it.
Identify your company’s needs
Is your antivirus software up-to-date? Do your employees understand how to transmit data securely? Are you technologically prepared to handle a cyber attack? Some security needs are specific to your industry or to your particular workflows. By understanding them better, you are preparing yourself and your company for the future.
Stay updated with cyber technology trends
If you stay up-to-date with the latest trends in cyber security, it will be easier for you to notice any suspicious activity and take the required actions. You can follow cybersecurity experts on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to have a steady stream of easily digestible cybersecurity awareness tips and news.
Discover your company’s vulnerabilities
Analyze your organization’s weaknesses and search for the best technological solutions to increase your defenses. Modern businesses share vast amounts of critical information every day, and keeping it safe should be a top priority.