Cybersecurity threats and trends can change year over year as technology continues to advance at alarming speeds. To protect your business, reassess your data protection practices at the start of the new year and make achievable cybersecurity resolutions to help prevent costly breaches.

The following are resolutions your company can implement to ensure you don’t become the victim of cybercrime:

1. Provide security training.
Employees are your first line of defence when it comes to cyber threats. Even the most robust and expensive data protection solutions can be compromised simply by an employee clicking a malicious link or downloading fraudulent software. As such, it’s critical for organizations to thoroughly train employees on common cyber threats and how to act when they encounter one. Training helps them understand the dangers of visiting harmful websites, leaving their devices unattended, and oversharing personal information on social media. Your employees should also know your cybersecurity policies and how to report suspicious cybersecurity activities.

2. Install strong antivirus software and keep it updated.
Outside of training your employees on the dangers of poor cybersecurity practices, antivirus software is one of the best ways to protect your data. Organizations should conduct thorough research to choose software that’s best for their needs. Once installed, antivirus programs should always be updated regularly.

3. Instill safe web browsing practices.
Deceptive and malicious websites can easily infect your network, often leading to more serious cyber-attacks. Employees should be trained on proper web usage and instructed to only interact with secured websites. For further protection, companies should consider blocking commonly known threats and potential malicious webpages outright.

4. Create strong password policies.
Ongoing password management can help prevent unauthorized attackers from compromising your organization’s password-protected information. Effective password management protects the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of an organization’s passwords. Above all, you’ll want to create a password policy that specifies all of your requirements related to password management. Your policy should include changing passwords regularly, avoiding using the same password for multiple accounts, and using special characters.

5. Use multi-factor authentication.
While complex passwords can help deter cybercriminals, they can still be cracked. To further prevent unauthorized access to employee accounts, multi-factor authentication is key. Multi-factor authentication adds a layer of security that allows companies to protect against compromised credentials. Through this method, users must confirm their identity by providing extra information while attempting to access corporate applications, networks, and servers. There are three possible ways a user can confirm they are who they claim to be:

  • Knowledge–the user provides information only they know such as a password or answers to skill-testing questions
  • Possession–the user supplies an item he has, like a hardware authentication device, or a one-time password
  • Inherent–the user relies on a characteristic unique to who they are such as a fingerprint, retinal scan, or voice recognition

6. Get vulnerability assessments.
The best way to evaluate your company’s data exposures is through a vulnerability assessment. Using a system of simulated attacks and stress tests, they can help you uncover entry points into your system. Following these tests, security experts compile their findings and provide recommendations for improving network and data safety.

7. Patch systems regularly and keep them updated.
A common way cybercriminals gain entry into your system is by exploiting software vulnerabilities. To prevent this, it’s critical that you update applications, operating systems, security software, and firmware regularly.

8. Back up your data.
It’s important to maintain regularly updated backup files, ideally in a secure, separate location from your primary systems. Failing to do so can result in the loss of critical business or proprietary data in the event that your system is compromised.

9. Understand phishing threats and how to respond.
In broad terms, phishing is a method cybercriminals use to gather personal information. In these scams, phishers send an email to direct users to fraudulent websites, asking victims to provide sensitive information. They are designed to look legitimate and trick individuals into giving credit card numbers, account numbers, passwords, usernames, or other sensitive information. Phishing tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated. It’s more important than ever to understand the different types of attacks, how to identify them, and preventive measures you can implement to keep your organization safe. Train employees on common phishing scams and other cybersecurity concerns and provide real-world examples to help them better understand what to look for.

10. Create an incident response plan.
Most organizations have some form of data protection in place. While these protections are critical for minimizing the damages caused by a breach, they don’t provide clear action steps following an attack. That’s where cyber incident response plans can help. While cybersecurity programs help secure an organization’s digital assets, cyber incident response plans provide clear steps for companies to follow when a cyber event occurs. Response plans allow organizations to notify impacted customers and partners quickly and efficiently, limiting financial and reputational damages.

Cowan Insurance Group provides cyber risk management solutions, liability coverage, privacy breach expense, and third party coverage for business interruption loss, digital assets, and cyber extortion.
No matter the size of your company, our dedicated team of expert advisors can help. Contact us today to learn more.