The number of cyberattacks in the news has increased steadily year over year, with a huge spike throughout the pandemic. These attacks are costly for businesses and organizations that have been targeted. It often takes years for an organization to recover from a cyberattack. Not surprisingly, cyber hygiene strategies are becoming a popular way to minimize the threat of attacks.
What is Cyber Hygiene?
Cyber hygiene is about following sound digital security practices as a way to boost the organization’s overall security. It can encompass anything from password policies to staff training through managed IT services. The important thing to note is that cyber hygiene is a preventative approach to security. This nature of cyber hygiene lends well to comparisons to personal hygiene. Most of us develop good personal hygiene at a young age, preventing long-term problems and promoting overall health. The same is true with cyber hygiene. It can promote the health of the security measures at your business.
Cyber Hygiene Strategies
Also similar to personal hygiene, cyber hygiene involves adopting a routine filled with habits that occur naturally. These habits can help you detect problems with computers, passwords, networks, emails, operating systems, and connected devices safe. The sooner you are aware of a problem, the quicker it can be resolved. Good cyber hygiene looks for vulnerabilities across these devices and then identifies ways to protect those vulnerabilities. Many of these good habits and protective measures can be found using managed IT services. The end goal is that cyber hygiene will keep your data safer and prevent malware and other attacks from infiltrating your network and devices.
Unfortunately, analysis of practices shows that fewer than half of the people in the United States perform the minimum cyber hygiene functions, which include:
- Installing antivirus and malware software
- Scanning for viruses
- Installing firewalls that prevent unauthorized users from accessing devices or networks
- Performing routine updates on apps, web browsers, and operating systems regularly
- Reformatting and deleting hard drives
- Changing passwords regularly and using strong password policies
- Implementing multifactor authentication
However, when these functions are carried out regularly as a part of cyber hygiene policies, they can provide many benefits. Cyber hygiene practices can:
- Protect the data of the business, its employees, and its customers
- Optimize the performance of all network devices and computers
- Protect from ransomware and malware attacks
- Deflect phishing attacks and thwart other malicious activity
- Identify and update privileges and credentials
- Identify network assets that may be a risk
- Identify unauthorized software or devices on a network
As you can see, there are many benefits to implementing sound cyber hygiene protocols, especially in concert with managed IT services. Conversely, a failure to do so can lead to problems, such as the loss of data due to corruption, hacking, or misplacement.
Developing a Sound Cyber Hygiene Routine
Cybersecurity experts recognize that many strategies or components within a cyber hygiene routine can shore up any security deficiencies your company currently has. These strategies include the minimum functions listed above but can also include additional actions, such as:
- Identifying the right tools for cyber hygiene. Identify the best possible antivirus and malware software, network firewall, and password protection tools for your digital environment.
- Set strong passwords and implement multifactor authentication, making it harder for hackers to gain access to devices and personal information.
- Use encryption for data and devices, ensuring that anyone who might gain access to the data will still find it unusable.
- Back up data and files regularly, which can be a lifesaver in the event of a successful ransomware attack.
- Audit the company’s cybersecurity technology. This process can determine what protections work and where deficiencies lie.
- Use a third party to conduct a risk assessment and assess the company’s digital vulnerabilities.
- Incorporate internal controls ensuring that power does not become too concentrated. These checks and balances are crucial in preventing internal abuse.
- Ensure that employees use work devices only for work.
- Develop a cybersecurity incident response plan. This plan can help you to manage security breaches and limit any damage or destruction.
- Implement strong training programs. The majority of breaches come from employee neglect or malfeasance. A cybersecurity awareness program can help to educate employees on best practices so that they do their part in keeping the company’s data safe and secure.
The frequency and severity of cyber threats are growing. A severe cyberattack is something that many companies will never recover from – which means that cyber hygiene must be taken seriously. These routine habits can save your business from nefarious attacks. To learn more about cyber hygiene from a managed IT services provider perspective, contact the knowledgeable team at Sagacent Technologies.
Sagacent Technologies offers technology management and support, including proactive/preventative maintenance, onsite and offsite data back-ups, network and security audits, mobility solutions, disaster planning, and emergency business resumption services. The company serves clients of 10 to 150 employees within the Silicon Valley region.