Organisations must take cyber security seriously in order to avoid becoming victims of the ever-growing cybercrime industry. Following certain steps and training employees to defend the company means that you can stay one step ahead of the hackers looking to gain unauthorised access to your networks and systems.
A cyber breach can be detrimental to the future of an organisation, determining the success, and even the survival of a business, highlighting how the effects of cybercrime can be catastrophic. With the GDPR's new data protection fines being introduced in 2018 to make sure companies are following the agreed rules and regulations, how you improve your security within the workplace is something that can no longer be ignored.
By having a strategy of giving staff the skills needed to prevent a cyber breach in the first place, and following easy steps through creating a vigilant workforce, the business can remain stable and secure.
Implementing VPN's For All Connections
In recent years, the mobility of employees within the business world has increased, allowing people to stray away from a routine of a daily commute into the office. This means employees are travelling more, and as a result they face a growing need to safely stay connected to their company networks when they are outside the office environment.
Public networks serve as the perfect hunting ground for hackers to take advantage of. If you are wanting to access sensitive data through them, such as a coffee shop Wi-Fi, accessing the data can put the business at risk.
Through using VPN's, otherwise known as Virtual Private Networks, users can securely access a private network through public platforms, allowing employees to safely access their work outside of the office without the constant worry of hackers closing in. Just like firewalls controlling what goes in and out of a network, VPN's protect you when you're online. Using VPN's means that the remote user can communicate with the internal company systems over the Internet as if it were inside the local network.
Enforce Password Rules
Strong passwords are one of the first lines of defence against hackers, so having a strong password policy cannot be stressed enough. Worryingly, the top two passwords used by individuals are '123456' and 'password', a fact that highlights how too many people are still leaving themselves vulnerable to cybercrime.
Making regular password updates mandatory and teaching users how to create and remember them could be key to help users safeguard critical systems and networks they rely on daily. Whilst equipping yourself with multiple passwords of high complexity can seem like a hassle, it shouldn't prevent a strong password policy from being implemented within your organisation.
Equip and Update
By using appropriate technology, such as antivirus software and firewalls, users are given an extra layer of protection against the hackers that are trying to break through. Antivirus software detects and removes malware (malicious software), as well as preventing it from getting into the system in the first place. Although no software can promise 100% impenetrability, by regularly scanning your device and systematically removing malware, it makes it much harder for hackers to find access points. To add to this, firewalls serve as a continuous monitor of your device traffic, denying access to malicious content.
Once you have the available software for protection, you need to look after it. Any connections to the internet are potential vulnerabilities for hackers to try and exploit. Keep every connection, operating system, and application up to date when they prompt you. Carrying out these updates limits possible exposure to hackers, but if you choose to ignore the updates, your business is put at risk. It can be tempting to keep clicking the 'remind me later' option because it's quicker at the time, but out of date software slows down your operating system as well as leaving gaps for new threats to infiltrate into your system.
Basic email awareness training can work wonders in preparing employees for the potential threats out there from hackers. By the user clicking on a download link, email attachment, or by visiting an insecure website, malware can quickly spread into the whole network.
Email vigilance shouldn't be simply regarded as 'common sense' because gaps in employee knowledge can be something that could make or break your business, something that can easily be prevented through some time and effort.
The current obsession with social media means that it would be dangerous to believe that the working day goes by without employees checking on one of the popular sites. With this frequency comes a security risk. The informal qualities in sites such as Facebook and Instagram make us believe that the information we post is harmless, far from being seen as confidential.
By letting our guard down in the seemingly fun and innocent way of socialising with friends online, it gives hackers the weakness they need to gain personal data that can then be sold on the cybercrime black market with the intentions of identity fraud as a result.
Education and Training in the Workplace
When it comes to the topic of cyber protection, it is the responsibility of everyone involved to keep the business secure. Indoctrinating this attitude of accountability and shared responsibility around cyber security is known as creating a compliance culture, an environment companies can adopt in order to go the extra mile in cybercrime prevention.
Through regular training and communication with employees to keep them in the loop, a proactive mood is created, something that will influence behaviours to ensures cyber security training goes beyond what is required by the law.
The threat from employees can be greater than you think, as they are frequently the weak link that allows hackers to attack through a mixture of human error and a lack of understanding on the topic. It only takes one unsuspecting employee to let malware into a network by opening an infected email/link. Most malware gains access through this sort of mistake, something that can easily be prevented through training.
Protocol for Breaches
If a data breach occurs, it is the responsibility of the organisation to react quickly and effectively to minimalize the damage to not only themselves, but to their customers as well. The priority should be to notify the Information Commissioner's Office within 24 hours of becoming aware of the breach, providing as many details of the breach as possible through keeping a continuous record of breaches. If the breach is likely to result in high risk affects, then individuals involved should be informed too, stressing the importance of consistent communication between all parties when a breach does occur
You should have a robust breach detection, investigation and internal reporting procedure in place if the worst should ever happen, which it most likely will at some point. With figures revealed that almost half of all UK firms were hit by a cyber breach between 2016-17, equating to 30% of all crimes recorded within the UK, burying your head in the sand won't get rid of the problem anytime soon.