In order to not only thrive – but survive in the current world of remote and hybrid working, individuals and organizations have to significantly ramp up their digital capabilities and introduce new tools into their daily operations. This is key to keeping up with competitors and maintaining trajectories that lead toward growth and development.
Reliance on digital technologies for both communication and operational success is a necessity, but it’s important to acknowledge that this also increases vulnerabilities and opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit security gaps and weaknesses. This has become especially perilous since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as employees from organizations across the globe have been forced to interact and collaborate with all stakeholders virtually.
We recently commissioned a survey in partnership with Angus Reid to analyze the sentiment of IT security in respect to the pandemic and the future of work. Concerningly, the survey found that more than one quarter (26 percent) of respondents had rarely or never reviewed their cybersecurity and privacy settings.
Reviewing and consistently maintaining your privacy settings – both personally and professionally – is crucial in protecting yourself and your business from cybercriminals. As this becomes increasingly important, here are ten helpful tips to ward off attackers and maintain a healthy cybersecurity posture:
1. Implement Multifactor authentication (MFA)
MFA is an excellent security tool that requires digital users provide at least two credentials to prove their identity and permission to access data. Implementing MFA systems is also an effective way to reduce security risks that might arise from users having weak passwords, using the same password for multiple applications or storing their passwords in insecure locations.
2. Use unique passwords & passphrases
A unique set of passwords and passphrases is critical to protecting your business from fraud and identity theft. Generating strong and unique passwords and passcodes makes hacking into any system significantly more difficult for a cybercriminal. Make sure that you use unique codes across all devices and accounts so that, in a worst-case scenario, if a cybercriminal does gain access to one of your accounts, they won’t automatically have access to all of them.
3. Ensure that cybersecurity plans include third-party partners
In the highly digital age we find ourselves in today, which continues to progress rapidly amid the COVID-19 pandemic, our reliance on tools and services from third-party partners to supplement business needs has also risen dramatically. Given that some third-party partners have access to private business data, ensuring that this is accounted for in your cybersecurity protocols is essential to avoiding security weaknesses.
4. Conduct ongoing reviews of privacy and cybersecurity settings
Data security can no longer be a passive process given the rapid development of cybercapabilities for businesses and individuals alike. Create a regular schedule to evaluate and update your security protocols as needed so that redundancies and weaknesses can be identified and addressed proactively – before a hack or breach has the chance to happen.
5. Evaluate whether your security program is risk-based and sustainable
Ensure that your organization’s security protocols are aligned with and support its strategic objectives. This involves taking the time to review relevant information regarding your organization’s needs and capabilities on an ongoing basis, including conducting regular penetration tests. This will ensure you have a better understanding of the investments required for your organization and will ensure a focused security protocol is in place at all times.
6. Ensure cybersecurity awareness and education are priorities for all employees
After more than 18 months working in continuously shifting environments, employees may not all have access to the same information and directives regarding organizational security protocols as they once did, pre-pandemic. Taking the time to ensure that employees receive clear instruction, education and expectations on cybersecurity protocols will help reduce risks to your organization’s security and will ensure that employees are equipped with all the tools and resources needed to be on the frontlines against cybercriminals.
7. Maintain proper device and data maintenance
Cybersecurity hygiene, and the regular upkeep of it, is extremely important to keep your organization’s data well protected. This includes having a living document that has all your current hardware, programs and applications up to date, actively updating important software and making sure that all your data is backed up and secured in the event of a cyberattack.
8. Adopt appropriate security solutions to keep data secure
Transitioning organizational capabilities to the cloud or hybrid cloud has proven to be a necessary evolution, as expectations around flexible work will remain in place long after the pandemic is behind us. This means that organizations will have to ensure that their security solutions – such as zero-trust architecture, secure access service edge and cloud security posture management – will need to be ingrained within organizational capabilities. This will not only help ensure a competitive edge but will also ensure that all data is accessible while remaining safe and secure.
9. Implement application modernization
Ensuring that all applications are up to date and modernized is key in order to ensure data security, productive and effective day-to-day management and meeting the evolving needs of your organization. Application modernization is also an effective way to ensure your organization is able to take advantage of the scalability and flexibility of the post-pandemic work environment.
10. Ensure ongoing device protection
With employees using mobile devices, such as laptops and cellphones, to access company data more often than ever before, the importance of ensuring device protection across all devices cannot be understated. While there have been many great strides forward over the last 18 months, there is still work to be done, as only 45 percent of our recent survey respondents take device protection for their phones seriously. To combat this, ensure that your employees are only accessing information on approved devices and networks and that proper device protection is set up wherever organizational information may be available.
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