In the wake of unprecedented cyberattacks last year, cybersecurity is on everyone’s radar. These attacks cost the global economy an estimated $3 trillion in 2021 alone, and that’s set to increase unless everyone starts taking security seriously. Here are six ways that business owners and private citizens can keep safe.
- Focus on the Human Element
The first line of defense against cyberattacks is the person behind the keyboard. Research done in part by Stanford University found that 43% of individuals made mistakes that compromised cybersecurity at their workplace. The biggest issue is a lack of situational awareness. Learning to recognize the warning signs of an impending attack is vital to preventing a breach. Learning to spot the difference between a fraudulent email or a bogus website can foil scammers before they strike. Proactive countermeasures like email data leak prevention, known as email dlp, focus on plugging holes in security protocol so a worst-case scenario never happens.
- Employ Zero Trust Security
Geography is no longer a limiting factor for cybercriminals. With tools at their disposal like neighbor spoofing apps, a scammer from far away can look trustworthy. This is why it’s important for everyone to take a zero-trust approach to computer security. “Zero-trust” means looking at anyone accessing a network as a potential threat. This security architecture emphasizes both validating credentials and scaling access according to trustworthiness. Many consider this approach cold and even paranoid, but the threatsa posed by unverified users are too great to ignore.
- Secure All Endpoints Equally
The modern digital world is increasingly decentralized. Devices are becoming more diverse, more capable, and more radically networked. Unfortunately, this means that a lapse in security on one user endpoint in a network can leave the entire network open to attack. Good endpoint security puts a particular emphasis on standardization and compliance. Antivirus and firewall software are expected to be installed on all endpoint devices and multifactor authentication is used to prove the legitimacy of anyone joining the network. It’s an individualistic approach for an age of distributed computing.
- Backup Data
Part of the cost of recovering from a data breach is replacing corrupted data files. This is especially true for businesses since losing clients’ private data can result in a loss of reputation. It’s always good to store essential files on an encrypted disk. An even better idea is to keep the most sensitive data stored on devices that can be detached from the internet. Flash drives with biometric locks can be used immediately and then placed in a safe at the end of the day. Even keeping hard copies on file can be a workable low-tech solution to the modern problem of secure data storage.
- Create Strong Passwords
PR Newswire recently reported that 30% of all security breaches in 2021 had weak passwords as a cause. Many people make the mistake of creating passwords that are short, simple, and easy to remember. Unfortunately, that’s just as helpful to hackers. Science shows that the best passwords are at least twelve characters long and no less than eight. Mixing symbols into the string of letters and numbers is another good way of keeping the password hard to guess. Passwords might be inconvenient, but they’re vital to stopping hackers.
- Be Aware of the Physical Environment
Personal information (such as a password) left unsecured is ripe for the picking. Dumpster diving has been a standard operating procedure among cybercriminals for decades. When people throw away receipts, purchase invoices, and banking information, this data can be plucked out of the trash and used to build a comprehensive profile of that person. No personal data should be discarded without first being destroyed by shredding. Disposals should be in a well-lit area with any security cameras available trained on them.
It’s time for the world to start taking the threat of a cyberattack seriously. Since everyone is at risk, it’s everyone’s responsibility to learn the tools and tactics needed to keep the internet safe.