July 7, 2021

How to better defend against cyberattacks

The first and most crucial thing any company can do to reduce the likelihood of a cyberattack is to train their employees about cyberthreats and how to recognize them. This may seem obvious and intuitive, but the fact of the matter is that human error accounts for a large percentage of successful cyberattacks.

 
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines a cyberattack as "an attack, via cyberspace, targeting an enterprise's use of cyberspace for the purpose of disrupting, disabling, destroying, or maliciously controlling a computing environment/infrastructure; or destroying the integrity of the data or stealing controlled information" (https://csrc.nist.gov/glossary/term/Cyber_Attack). Cyberattacks take many forms, from ransomware and malware to hacking into personal devices or even breaching through security measures by force. Hackers gain access to personal and private information in a multitude of ways, and reducing the risk to zero is virtually impossible. With a few extra and carefully planned steps, however, companies can better protect themselves from crippling damage caused by these attacks.

The first and most crucial thing any company can do to reduce the likelihood of a cyberattack is to train their employees about cyberthreats and how to recognize them. This may seem obvious and intuitive, but the fact of the matter is that human error accounts for a large percentage of successful cyberattacks. We are all human, and a lack of proper training increases the chances that we overlook small details which would indicate a potential threat. For example, an employee sends sensitive information in response to an email that appears at first glance to originate from a legitimate source. In truth, though, they just became the victim of a phishing scam, where the sender's email address does not match the purported name of the sender. A simple instruction to inspect the sender details before taking any action (read: clicking links, opening attachments, responding with sensitive information) would prevent this from happening.

Training employees in this way serves as the quickest and least expensive security measure, though it does little to address other vulnerabilities in the system that risk being exploited. The second thing a company can do is deploy complex cybersecurity devices or software that constantly protect its networks and devices. Unfortunately, the market for such solutions is growing almost as rapidly as the threats they are designed to mitigate, and the multitude of options is enough to cause decision paralysis. With this in mind, a company should first determine its most significant risks, the scope of its IT footprint, and the amount of money it can budget toward protecting its assets. The ensuing research would then involve identifying the capabilities of each application or piece of hardware, determining the most practical combination of solutions, and then weighing the tradeoff between extra security and extra cost (if the budget is exceeded).

If the shopping part wasn't overwhelming enough, the most comprehensive cybersecurity applications and devices require specific and often precise configuration to work correctly. Enter the MSSP, or Managed Security Services Provider. This team of professionals well-versed in cybersecurity assumes the burden of selecting, implementing, and monitoring the hardware and applications used to protect your business. Furthermore, companies of this nature often provide training to company employees through seminars and simulated attacks to reduce the company's chances of falling victim to social engineering attacks. Finally, MSSPs work proactively to harden security as cyberattacks grow in volume and complexity. Using methods such as penetration testing, the MSSP discovers and eliminates vulnerabilities before a nefarious third party has the chance.

As is evident with the significant cyberattacks in just the last few months, from Kaseya to JBS to the Colonial Pipeline, cybersecurity bears more importance than ever before. Remember that training employees to be vigilant in their online activities is only the beginning. Don't wait until you are the victim of a cyberattack to scramble for reparations - consider employing an MSSP like iTecs to strengthen your security and save yourself the headache!

Click here to learn more about iTecs Managed Security Services Programs

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