What is Cyber Hygiene & Why is It Important?

Without a doubt, businesses more than ever need to invest in cybersecurity measures. Cyber attacks are wreaking havoc in government organizations, private entities and even non-profits. The cyber threats range from data breaches, phishing, and ransomware attacks to identity fraud, cyber-extortion and invasion of privacy. Best cyber hygiene practices are the minimum a business entity should consider to protect against cyber attacks. Cyber hygiene can be defined as a set of practises, precautions or routine which can help in improving and boosting cybersecurity measures and maintaining the performance of the same at an optimum level always. This in turn assists in protecting against outside attacks. It is similar to personal hygiene which is essential to keep unwanted diseases at bay. 

Basic Challenges in Cybersecurity

With the advancement in technology, any business today have multiple elements where cyber hygiene is a necessity. There are personal computers, smartphones, IoT devices, software, online tools and mobile applications which may have potential vulnerabilities. Most of the time cyber vulnerabilities are amplified and exposed due to human error. It includes using weak passwords online, opening malicious links and attachments and giving away personal information on fraudulent websites. Another major problem is the loss of an extensive amount of data. Lack of measures like backup or proper protection of data can lead to hacking, damage and monetary loss. Often, business organizations do not update software applications that are continuously used for different purposes. The modern threat landscape is so evolved and dynamic that such failures can lead to devastating consequences for the business.

Solutions

Cybersecurity begins with best cyber hygiene practises which should be followed by everyone from top to bottom in an organization and not just the IT department. Here are some of the healthy solutions which can guard organizations against cyber attacks.

Cyber Hygiene Policy

A common set of practices can be developed for all the employees while they engage in activities like using internet, email, network devices and software utilized in an organization. Most often, multiple team members would be using the same devices and software. In such cases, a policy containing best practices can be documented for everyone to follow. This cyber hygiene policy should be updated regularly depending on the trends. Moreover, training programs can be held to teach about the same to the employees.

Use Strong Passwords

One of the most common solutions which can help in improving basic cyber hygiene include using complex passwords. Changing them often will protect you from the malicious activities of hackers. It is a common best practise to include symbols, capital and lowercase letters and numbers in your password. Multi-factor authentication is another practise which gives extra layer of protection. Generally, employees will be required to submit username, one time passwords or code along with the password. At offices, biometrics and fingerprint recognition can be used which will make it harder for cyber criminals to breach systems.

Software Updates

As mentioned, software should be updated regularly as and when new versions are available. The constant threat of spamming, virus, malware and phishing can only be deterred by updating software regularly. Also, businesses should make sure that the latest versions of the software are used everywhere. This may include updating browsers, apps, operating systems etc.

Anti-virus and Firewalls

Always use trustful and effective anti-virus programs to keep malicious apps and programs, virus, malware at bay. You can run regular scans to check if any files are infected. Using  network firewall is like the first line of defense in network security. It prevents  unauthorised users from getting access. 

Regular Back up

Experts suggest that important data should have regular back up using cloud storage or hard drive. Stringent security measures should be in place to protect data wherever it is stored. This will prevent data loss. Cyber hygiene solutions should integrate routine maintenance of hardware and software and appropriate time frames can be fixed to check about passwords and updates. 

Advanced Challenges and Solutions in Cybersecurity

Today, every modern organization is at a greater risk than ever before. Therefore, basic cyber hygiene is a must along with advanced procedures for any enterprise. Some of the advanced security challenges organizations faces include network architecture security, endpoint security, cloud security, email security. 

Network Architecture – Network Architecture of any organization comprises an entire gamut of elements like devices, equipment, network protocols and topologies. Additionally, it consists of non-technical features such as standards, policies, controls and protocols for any security incidents.  A deep understanding of the complex system and capabilities to understand anomaly or intrusion in the system is necessary to safeguard network architecture. Networking monitoring, proper security configuration, better control over access to assets are some of the cyber hygiene measures to implement. 

Endpoint Devices – Endpoint Devices have expanded from personal computers, laptops to smartphones and now IoT. Many of the upcoming devices have advanced features but are low on security measures. Thus, these devices are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. Some of the security elements that can help are URL filtering, the latest Anti-virus solutions, endpoint encryption, patching, endpoint detection etc. 

Cloud Storage – Cloud storage is extensively used by organizations today to keep data safe. It is commonly believed that such technology is more secure than a company’s data centre. But in reality, cloud services often provide minimal security and protection mechanism. Often, robust and advanced security measures are provided as a value-added service only. Also, customer actions, many times, can lead to security compromises. Cloud perimeter security, cloud workload protection monitoring, avoiding unauthorized access, incident detection and response mechanism and encryption are some of the best solutions. 

Email – Email is used by all organizations for communication purpose. Thus, it has become the easiest pathway for cybercriminals to exploit the cyber fragilities of businesses across the world. Spear phishing, phishing and malware are common ways used to conduct malicious activities. A secure email gateway, encryption, spam filtering, URL blocking are some of the means to achieve email security. 

Some cyber hygiene practices to ensure best and robust cybersecurity are mentioned:

1 ) Undertake an audit of cybersecurity technologies on a regular basis to ensure maximum protection without compromise. 

2 ) You can partner with an experienced cybersecurity consultant to review your existing process and boost performance. 

3) Get help from cybersecurity experts and professionals to assess potential vulnerabilities in the system.

4) Training employees of an organization about cyber threats, cybersecurity and best practices can go a long way in protecting assets and data. 

5) Ongoing awareness programs should be held to remind employees about the best security protocols through videos, simulations and training from experts. 

6) Boost internal security practices by allowing limited access to assets to limited users. Duties can be distributed to different members of the team so that all information may not be limited to a single person. 

7) Always have a plan to counter any sort of cyber attack. It helps in preventing business disruption and controlling resulting damage. 

These are some basic and advanced cyber hygiene practices that you can implement in your organization to protect from cyber-attacks of different types. You can always take the help of professional and experienced cybersecurity consultants to enhance business security. With the expertise and latest knowledge about the cybersecurity trends happening across the world, you can develop and implement the best cyber hygiene practices among the employees. Ultimately, this will keep your organization safe and help in thwarting cyber attacks from outside.