How to prevent cyber threats: 8 useful changes to make
It’s no secret that cyber attacks are on the rise. In fact, according to a report from Symantec, ransomware attacks increased by 1, 885% in 2021.
This rapidly escalating problem makes it more important than ever for companies to bolster their IT security. To help, we’ve outlined 8 key business changes you can make that will help prevent cyber threats.
1. Implement GDPR
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced in May 2018. The regulation binds companies to certain data handling and security requirements, intended to protect the privacy of digital citizens.
GDPR compliance is not mandatory for companies outside the EU. But it remains advisable. Indeed, for companies that process or store the personal data of EU citizens, GDPR compliance is becoming increasingly important.
Compliance with GDPR can help prevent cyber threats in several ways. Namely, it ensures that companies have comprehensive security measures in place to protect the personal data they collect and process.
Beyond this regulated processing, GDPR also mandates that companies notify authorities and affected individuals of data breaches within 72 hours of discovery. In turn, this helps reduce the level of damage in the event of a cyber attack.
So, compliance with GDPR is not only a good way to protect the personal data of EU citizens. It’s also a great way to mitigate and prevent cyber threats.
To learn more about GDPR, you can check out the complete guide to the GDPR.
2) Improve security protocols
One of the most important things companies can do in the fight against cybercrime is to improve their security protocols. Doing so helps avoid costly attacks and data breaches. By making changes to security measures, businesses can protect their confidential data and prevent unauthorised system access.
For example, the company can stop password reuse. They can introduce 2FA, and tighter role-based access control. They can audit shadow IT. Even simple measures like this can help reduce the likelihood of human error that could lead to a breach.
3) Educate employees on cybersecurity
Employees are often the weak link when it comes to security. They may click on malicious links or open attachments from unknown senders. Or they may simply not be aware of best practices for keeping their devices and data safe.
By educating the team on cybersecurity, businesses can help reduce and prevent cyber threats. Employees will be less likely to make mistakes that could put the company at risk. And they’ll be better equipped to spot and report suspicious activity.
When educating employees about cybersecurity, keep a few points in mind:
- Make it mandatory: employees should understand that cybersecurity is important and that they have a responsibility to keep the company safe
- Keep it simple: use clear and concise language to explain the threats and how to avoid them
- Make it relevant: explain how cyberattacks can impact the business and employees’ jobs
- Make it engaging: use interactive activities, like quizzes or games, to make learning about cybersecurity more fun
4) Keep software up to date
Outdated software is one of the biggest security risks for companies. All software should be kept up to date, including operating systems, security software, and applications.
If your company software isn’t up to date, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to attack. Cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to exploit old software, and if you’re not running the latest version, you could be an easy target. In some cases, simply using an outdated piece of software can put your entire system at risk.
5) Back up data
One way to help mitigate the damage of a cyberattack is to back up data. If data is lost or corrupted in an attack, it can be restored from the backup. Backing up data can also help identify what was lost or corrupted in an attack, which can help with recovery efforts.
There are multiple ways companies can use to back up data. Think an external hard drive, cloud storage, a backup service, etc. However, it’s important to choose a method that works best for you and your organisation. For example, backing up data to the cloud may be a good option if you have limited storage space on your devices, or if you need to access the data from multiple locations.
Backing up data regularly is important to ensure that the backup is up to date. You may want to back up data daily or weekly, for instance. You should also test the backup regularly to ensure that it works as expected, and that you can access the data if you need to.
When backing up data, you should:
- Store backups in a safe place, such as a fireproof and waterproof safe
- Label each backup with the date it was created, so you can easily identify which is the most recent
- Keep multiple copies of backups in different locations, such as on different devices or in a different physical location
Backing up data can be time-consuming and expensive, but it is worth it to help your company be safe.
6) Install firewalls and intrusion detection systems
Firewalls are a great first line of defence in the battle to prevent cyber threats. They can help block suspicious traffic and prevent malicious software from getting onto your network. Detection systems can also be helpful in identifying potential threats. Plus, they help you respond quickly if an attack does occur.
7) Monitor activity
It’s important to monitor activity on company networks for signs of an attack. This includes things like unusual login activity or unexpected traffic spikes. By monitoring such activities on your company’s network, you can help avoid attacks.
Signs to watch for include:
- Suspicious IP addresses: if you see an IP address that doesn’t belong on your network, it could be a sign of an attacker trying to gain access
- Unusual activity: if you see unusual activity on your networks, such as devices connecting at odd times or strange traffic patterns, it could be a sign of an attack
- Changes in files: if you see changes in files that you don’t recognise, it could be a sign that attackers have gained access to your system and are trying to cover their tracks
- Emails from unknown senders: if you receive emails from an unknown sender, be wary of opening them. They could contain malware that can infect your system
By monitoring these signs, you can help protect your company and prevent cyber threats. If you see any of these signs, be sure to investigate further and take action to secure your system.
8) Investing in cybersecurity insurance
Cybersecurity insurance is not a new concept, but it is one that is becoming more popular as cyberattack increases. Its benefits include:
- It can help your company financially recover from a cyber attack
- It can help educate your employees on how to prevent cyber threats
- It can provide peace of mind, knowing that you are protected from the financial damages that can be caused by a cyber attack
When investing in cybersecurity insurance, there are two things to keep in mind. First, make sure to choose a policy that covers the types of attacks that your company is most at risk for. Second, work with an insurance broker who understands the cybersecurity landscape and can help you find the right policy.
Investing in cybersecurity insurance is a smart way to protect your company from the financial damages that can be caused by a cyber attack.
The journey to prevent cyber threats
Cybersecurity is a critical concern for all companies, large and small alike. By making the necessary changes to your company’s policies and implementing the strategies highlighted in this article, you help protect your company from cyber attacks and data breaches.
Cosmas is a technologist enthusiast who advocates for safe internet browsing and interactions. He is also a technical writer with 4 years of experience in the technology industry. During his free time, Cosmas is on the lookout for technology trends to cover in his next writing quest.