Digital infrastructure and cloud technology support an essential part of the modern world. Social, commercial, academic, and many other spaces exist within that network of information — information available anytime, anywhere you are.
Still, despite the importance of that digital world to real-world business success, too few organizations pay enough attention to cybersecurity.
In the first half of 2020, data breaches exposed 36 million digital records (RiskBased), and all evidence suggests that this number will only continue to rise.
And while individual users are common victims of cyberattackers, most efforts are directed at targets with more significant data volume and therefore greater value to cybercriminals: businesses.
The recent events with Colonial Pipeline and its effects in the United States demonstrate that much more is at risk than just companies’ reputations when they neglect the cybersecurity of their digital infrastructure. Real damage, to millions of innocent people, can ensue.
That’s why companies are increasingly investing more significant resources to stay safe online and reduce their exposure to cybercrime.
How Can I Become More Cybersecurity Aware?
To increase cybersecurity awareness and the adoption of appropriate security measures, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has designated October as National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). Until then, below are a few tips to help you reduce your exposure to information security risks and other common cybersecurity threats.
1. Think Twice Before Trusting Email Content
The consensus among cybersecurity experts is that the weakest point of any security infrastructure is the human element.
Roughly 95 percent of all data breaches result from human error (TechRepublic), either by accessing malicious websites or unknowingly initiating malware or ransomware on their computers. Cyber attackers are aware of this and have focused their efforts on exploiting this vulnerability through phishing attacks.
Phishing is a type of cyberattack that involves sending communications (usually an email) intended to dupe someone into opening a malicious link or sending personal information or credentials back to the attacker. It is estimated that in 2019 alone, 88 percent of companies in the United States were exposed to this kind of attack (Proofpoint).
Many of these cyberattacks rely on social engineering to tailor malicious emails and even social media messages, reinforcing credibility and increasing the effectiveness of these scam attacks. Raising awareness of the dangers posed by emails, attachments, and links within emails is a significant first step in reinforcing a culture of cybersecurity in any environment.
It never hurts to double-check an email before interacting with it!
2. Use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) and/or Single Sign-On (SSO)
An estimated 300 billion passwords are in use today (Cybersecurity Media). Although cyber attackers may only have access to less than 1 percent of them, that is still a vast number of affected users.
Social engineering and the large number of password dictionaries accumulated from past data breaches, coupled with the common tendency to reuse passwords (which you should not do) have made passwords obsolete as a security tool on the internet.
A good step toward improving IT security is to implement two-factor authentication (2FA) on every possible site or register and log in with single sign-on (SSO) when possible.
SSOs are sign-up and login options that allow an end-user to use a secure service or account (your Google, iCloud, Facebook, or Microsoft account, for example) as a login method, without the use of passwords or usernames; allowing you to secure multiple accounts on different sites under the protection of your primary account of choice.
2FAs are nothing more than an extra layer of security for your accounts, which don’t rely on knowing something (a password), but on having something (your mobile device or a security code app) or being something (your fingerprint or face).
Together, 2FA and SSO can be a tactic tool to block cybercrimes such as identity theft or theft of sensitive information contained in your accounts over the internet.
3. Make cybersecurity part of your work culture.
An essential part of a cybersecurity awareness program is to demystify cybercrime and cybersecurity risks. Law enforcement and cybersecurity experts will tell you that there are two types of companies: those that have suffered cyber attacks and those that will suffer cyberattacks, and all stakeholders should be aware of the effect that their day-to-day actions affect the level of cybersecurity risk.
Consequently, it should be in everyone’s interest to stay safe online, both inside and outside the physical workspace (a growing scenario resulting from the pandemic and the rise of remote work). With the help of webinars, cybersecurity awareness training, and constant monitoring of risky behavior, it is possible to improve a company’s overall cybersecurity infrastructure substantially.
Treating Cybersecurity Awareness Like a Business
Leaving an application open or a mobile device unlocked, using unsecured wifi networks or web pages, using accessible information like security questions, having the same password for several services, or simply not updating your operating system regularly — all of these situations are a gateway for cyber attackers to take control of an entire information system.
Despite those threats, companies play a crucial role, not only in monitoring cybersecurity best practices but also in implementing adequate mechanisms to protect their data, customers, employees, and shareholders. That’s how you can avoid severe reputational damage, substantial monetary losses, administrative sanctions related to non-compliance with cybersecurity regulations, trade secrets leak, intellectual property theft, and other related risks.
ZenGRC Offers Protection from Cyber Risks
ZenGRC can help to supervise a business’ entire ecosystem and provide situational awareness through risk assessment, real-time alerts, incident response management tips, and reporting metrics.
ZenGRC also automates continuous monitoring by collecting audit information, streamlining workflows, eliminating the need for constant follow-up while tracing outstanding tasks.
Additionally, the unified control management feature allows organizations to map controls across multiple frameworks, standards, and regulations to determine where compliance gaps exist. This mapping capability enables organizations to assure consistency, which leads to stronger audit outcomes.
ZenGRC lets organizations focus on the fundamentals of compliance while eliminating the tedious tasks that often make compliance feel like a burden. Not only does this help CISOs feel more effective at their jobs, but it also makes organizations more efficient at the ongoing task of governance and continuous monitoring.
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