From Risk to Resilience - Proven Cybersecurity Strategies

From Risk to Resilience - Proven Cybersecurity Strategies for enterprises and medium and small organisations

DQC Bureau
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In the modern technological age, opportunities for growth and advancement are abundant, but they come hand in hand with the looming threat of cyber risks that can jeopardsze an organisation's assets, operations and overall success. Even with the support of elite security services, navigating the ever-evolving threat landscape is no straightforward task. Every organisation, regardless of its size or industry, is susceptible to risk and if left unaddressed, these risks can lead to security breaches. With this in mind, we've compiled a list of ten effective methods for enhancing an organisation's cybersecurity and achieving peace of mind.


1. Practice Internet Safety Best Practices

From email attachment Trojans to deceptive phishing login pages and information collection through social engineering, many severe security breaches result from neglecting fundamental best practices that safeguard an organization's computing environment and its users. To mitigate these risks, organisations can -

  • Discourage organization members from clicking links to unknown sources.
  • Remind them never to download software from untrusted sources.
  • Issue social media guidelines to prevent sharing sensitive organization information over unencrypted channels.

2. Perform Routine Phishing Campaign Tests

Phishing remains a significant threat vector, with cybercriminals using increasingly sophisticated techniques to deceive and compromise unsuspecting organizations. Regularly conducting internal phishing campaign simulations can raise awareness and equip users with practical knowledge and experience to recognise and respond to phishing attempts effectively. Additional protective measures include:

  • Implementing email protection software and services to bolster defenses against phishing.
  • Continuous monitoring of the organization's email environment for suspicious activity.

3. Keep a Running List of Approved Applications

 To mitigate risks, organisations can benefit from maintaining a restricted list of approved applications necessary for daily operations. This practice not only simplifies the management of software vulnerabilities but also sets clear expectations for acceptable application functionality in the workplace, minimizing unexpected activity within the environment. Recommendations for organizations include:

  • Creating an Application Repository containing only essential company applications.
  • Monitoring for unauthorized software installations and implementing "Acceptable Use Policy" guidelines.
  • Avoiding outdated software that may introduce security risks.

4. Keep Your Environment Up to Date

Regularly updating device operating systems and commonly used software applications with the latest security patches is one of the most effective ways to fortify defenses against malware, network intrusion, and other security issues. Organizations can bolster their cybersecurity by -

  • Encouraging users to perform software updates on a regular basis.
  • Implementing automated patch management systems for efficient updates.
  • Using policy compliance applications to ensure users adhere to update procedures and version requirements.

5. Keep Admin User Privileges in the Right Hands

Restricting access and permissions based on job roles can be an effective strategy to minimize security risks. By ensuring that users have only the necessary access for their specific roles, organisations can significantly reduce the likelihood of successful breaches, as unauthorised access to critical tools and data is limited. Practical steps for organizations include:

  • Using Group Policy settings to limit or eliminate unrestricted user permissions and employing least privilege principles.
  • Creating local non-admin user accounts when feasible.
  • Separating organizational roles to limit access to tools and information.

6. Cover All the Bases

Lateral movement is a common tactic used by threat actors to infiltrate an organization's network after compromising a single endpoint. Unmonitored endpoints provide entry points for advanced persistent threats, and by the time the security operations center is aware of the threat, it may have already spread to other monitored and protected areas. Implementing endpoint detection and response (EDR) software solutions can help safeguard an organization against such threats. To enhance security, organisations can -

  • Conduct periodic internal checks to ensure devices are monitored and protected by an endpoint detection and response (EDR) software solution.
  • Ensure endpoints have the latest versions of key modules.
  • Consider deploying a perimeter firewall for publicly accessible server endpoints and web application firewalls for external applications.
  • Implement phishing prevention software and services to mitigate external requests for information and access.
  • Encourage the use of VPN connections for remote work and discourage the use of unsecured, publicly-exposed remote access protocols.

7. Enforce Strict Password Requirements and Implement Multi-factor Authentication

Strict password requirements and multi-factor authentication (MFA) are essential components of robust cybersecurity. Requiring strong, unique passwords and MFA for account logins significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access. Organizations can enhance their security by -

  • Mandating password resets for new accounts to eliminate default passwords.
  • Discouraging password reuse across multiple accounts, services, or software.
  • Enforcing case-sensitive, alphanumeric, length, and special character requirements to promote password complexity.
  • Setting password expiration requirements to ensure regular resets.
  • Promptly resetting passwords when account compromises are detected as a result of previous breaches.

8. Sanitise or Prohibit the Use of Removable Storage Devices

Removable storage devices, though convenient, can introduce cybersecurity risks. To mitigate these risks, organizations can explore alternative data transfer methods or sanitize removable storage devices after each use. In cases where removable storage devices are not essential, organizations may consider prohibiting their use through policy. Recommendations for organizations include:

  • Providing alternatives such as company SharePoint sites or cloud storage solutions.
  • Sanitizing removable storage devices after each use.
  • Implementing policies to prohibit the use of removable storage devices.
  • Discouraging the installation or connection of removable storage devices from unknown or untrusted sources.

9. Implement a Backup Strategy

Redundancy is crucial for recovering from IT or security disasters. Implementing a robust backup strategy is essential for safeguarding an organization's data and ensuring business continuity in the event of a security incident or disaster. To establish an effective backup strategy, organizations can consider:

  • Scheduled, remote, and cloud-based backup services.
  • Regularly testing disaster response plans to ensure they are familiar to key stakeholders and that processes and procedures are validated.
  • Safeguarding backup data to prevent tampering and unauthorized access.

10. Don't Leave Devices Physically Unlocked or Unattended

Maintaining physical security is integral to cybersecurity. Simple precautions, such as securing devices with physical locks and ensuring that work phones and mobile workstations are not left unattended, help safeguard an organization's assets and data. Employing data encryption, such as BitLocker, can also protect data at rest. To enhance physical security, organizations can:

  • Supply members with physical locks for securing devices in corporate environments.
  • Remind members to secure their work phones and mobile workstations when leaving the office.
  • Implement data encryption solutions to protect data stored on devices.

Incorporating these ten concrete steps is fundamental to bolstering your organisation's cybersecurity efforts. A proactive approach, encompassing continuous monitoring and rapid response.

--By Zakir Hussain Founder and CEO, BD software distribution

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