The new year is upon us and that means taking stock of the past year as well as coming up with some new goals for the coming year. Instead of the typical eat healthier and get more exercise resolutions, we in the IT industry prefer a list of the best practices when it comes to cyber hygiene. As Managed Support and IT Services professionals, we know how important it is for both individuals and organizations to practice good cyber hygiene to avoid the growing threat of cyber attacks. If your organization is in the process of taking stock of cyber threats and vulnerabilities, you may want to consider reviewing your best practices for cyber hygiene as we end 2024. Here is our list that can get you started.
What is Cyber Hygiene?
Let’s start with a definition of what we mean by cyber hygiene and why it should matter to everyone who has a stake in the digital world.In general, cyber hygiene refers to measures and practices that both individuals and organizations can take to maintain good cyber health. Just like showering, washing hands and brushing and flossing teeth are critical in personal hygiene, practicing good cyber hygiene can help prevent data loss, breaches, and identity theft. On a day-to-day basis, practicing good cyber hygiene includes creating strong passwords, regularly updating software, being vigilant with emails and links, and backing up data regularly. In short, cyber hygiene is all about being proactive and adopting behaviors that minimize the potential risk of a cyber attack. It is no small feat but one that could protect your business and its solid reputation.
Factors Leading To A Growing Number of Cyber Attacks
To understand why good cyber hygiene is essential for individuals and organizations, it’s good to review the underlying factors that are causing an increase in cyber attacks over the past few years. The escalation of cyber attacks can be attributed to more savvy and agile hackers, an increase in the use of AI, the dwindling number of skilled IT professionals for growing businesses, the increased sophistication of phishing scams, and the exploitation of collaboration tools used in remote and hybrid work environments. Due to these factors and others, there was a 38% increase in cyber attacks in 2022, according to Check Point Research. This increase should motivate employees, leadership and individuals to start regularly practicing good cyber hygiene in the coming year.
Cyber Hygiene Best Practices
Best practices should be supported at both the organizational level as well as at the individual level. For instance, employees (individuals) must understand their role as they are often one of the first lines of defense against many cyber attacks such as email phishing and the sharing of malicious links. On the organizational level, companies must take precautions to protect client data by implementing and maintaining robust security measures. With these two groups in mind, here are some examples of best practices your business may want to consider for 2024.
Cyber Hygiene Checklist for Individuals
Use strong & unique passwords
Use a password manager when applicable
Never share authorized access with other employees
Regularly update software when prompted to do so
Install all security software as required
Attend all trainings for cyber security
Be vigilant about opening emails and attachments
Apply patches when directed by IT departments
Use multi-factor authentication when available
Don’t use public Wi-Fi when traveling or working outside the office
Use a VPN when needed
Cyber Hygiene Checklist of Organizations
Implement strict security software and firewalls
Practice backup protocols and disaster recovery regularly
Train team members on email security and cyber security red flags
Use real-time tools to monitor the health of your system
Educate employees about cyber security best practices
Implement and utilize access controls
Revoke access rights when needed
Increase layers of security with multi-factor authentication and password managers
Utilize anti-virus software and firewalls
Create a cloud usage and security policy
Manage and secure endpoints
Provide a strong identity and access management program
Require credentials and passwords
Segment networks where possible
Conduct risk assessments regularly
Train staff on the risks of using public Wi-Fi
Some of the most common mistakes that would qualify as poor cyber hygiene would include failing to update the software when prompted to do so, ignoring patches that are needed for security updates, using public Wi-Fi and failing to use a VPN. Additionally, we could include on this list sharing credentials, not practicing regular backup and disaster recovery drills, sharing credentials, re-using passwords and the list could go on and on. Our technology-dependent world requires that we have protocols in place to prevent catastrophes such as data breaches, hacking or loss of data. Spectra Networks can help your organization firm up your best practices including providing Managed Support, IT Services, and Amazon Web Services. We are knowledgeable about the digital needs of industries required to follow compliance and security regulations as many of our clients are in the healthcare and dental industries. Cyber security hygiene is a critical component in the world of preventing cyber attacks. Practicing just one or two will not be enough to stop the onslaught of cyber attacks that seem to increase every year. A comprehensive program of best practices will work best at the individual and organizational levels. Follow our blog and talk to our team about how we can help your business start working on your cyber hygiene and best practices this year. Contact us online or visit us at Mill58 on Pulaski Street in Peabody, Massachusetts.