Cybercrimes increased by nearly 300% following the covid-19 pandemic.

43% of all cyberattacks target small businesses. 

60% of all enterprises which fall victim to cyberattacks go out of business within the following year. 

The internet is full of similar scary statistics. Every report explicitly states that cybercrimes such as malware attacks, phishing scams, ransomware blackmail, or email fraud are rising. If you are worried about your cybersecurity, you are on the right track. But what to do next?  

Since all businesses operate on the cloud to some extent, avoiding the internet is not a viable security option. You need to know how to keep yourself secure and stay ahead of cyber-criminals. We’re here to help with some essential cybersecurity recommendations.  

11 Essential Cybersecurity Tips That You Should Follow: 

1. Protect Your Passwords

You have probably heard this advice a thousand times, but it’s the most important and bears repeating. Use unique and strong passwords. Passwords are your greatest defenders, don’t leave them vulnerable.
Some pointers to keep in mind when setting passwords:
1. For passwords or password hints, don’t use easily accessible personal information, such as birthdays or pet names.
2. You don’t have to create random strings of characters that are impossible to remember, but still use a combination of uppercase, lowercase, and special characters. 
3. Don’t use the same password twice or for multiple accounts.
4. Frequently change your passwords at least once every six months.

2. Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and two-factor authentication (TFA) are crucial layers of security for your online accounts, such as email or social media accounts. With this feature turned on, you have to verify your identity on a secondary personal device anytime you log in to your accounts. Even if someone figures out your password, they cannot enter your account unless they have access to your phone.

3. Install an Anti-virus and Run Regular Scans

The importance of anti-virus cannot be overstated. Devices that run Microsoft Windows 7 or higher come with pre-installed anti-virus – Windows Defender. Otherwise, a legitimate anti-virus from a reputable company is essential.
Ensure you buy authentic software from a trusted source and do not download free anti-virus from the internet. Free software on the internet is generally a source of the malware itself. Anti-virus software is generally configured to run automatic scans at regular intervals. So, all you have to do is not actively stop the scans and keep the software license updated.

4. Only Connect to Trusted Networks

It’s tempting to connect with free Wi-Fi. Most of us have used public networks, such as a cafe or airport Wi-Fi, at some point. But this is a risky practice, especially if you are handling sensitive or private information. Public networks are generally not secure and, therefore, a hotspot for cybercriminals. It’s easy for them to access your data over such networks. Another risk in public spaces of “shoulder-surfing.” Someone could be looking over your shoulder and gaining knowledge of your passwords and sensitive information.

5. Stay Ahead of Social Engineering 

Social engineering is an attack tactic where instead of using sophisticated technologies, attackers target human beings directly to gain access to sensitive information. Attackers falsify their identities to trick their targets and establish trust. Their goal is to gain valuable information such as credentials or company secrets, click on malicious links, or infect the target’s device with malware.
According to the Identity Theft Resource Center, Phishing and Business Email Compromise (BEC) attacks were the most common cyberattacks in 2021. Most cases of ransomware attacks or data breaches are a result of phishing. 

a. Be suspicious when opening emails from unfamiliar accounts, especially if it asks you to click on links or download attachments.

b. Don’t just click on links. Hover over them first to see where they re-direct.
c. Verify the identity of the sender and their organization.
d. Check for spelling mistakes in email IDs. Attackers count on us not being vigilant.
e. Don’t trust anyone who offers you unsolicited favors or money on the internet.

Suggested Reading: 6 Benefits of Managed Security Services (MSS) That You Should Know

6. Ensure Awareness Training for Your Employees

According to a 2022 Ponemon report, 62% of all data breaches resulted from human error or negligence. Educating your employees on cybersecurity risks and raising their security awareness is of utmost importance.
a. Train them on how to detect phishing tactics and other suspicious activities online
b. Cover relevant topics such as password security, removable media best practices, safe social media use
c. Run cyberattack simulations to assess their preparedness
d. Communicate the severe ramifications of cyberattacks
e. In case of BYOD policies or remote working employees, ensure they use secured devices and networks. Monitor downloads and file-sharing activities of employees

7. Stay Updated

Getting notifications for updates while in the middle of a task can get annoying. But it’s crucial that we don’t ignore those notifications. Install updates as soon as possible. Updates don’t just add new features. They fix existing vulnerabilities in your hardware or software, making your device more secure. Set your system preferences to automatic updates so you don’t face the risk of missing important updates. Also, if your device cannot receive updates anymore, it’s time to upgrade to a newer model.

8. Regularly Backup Important Data

Data backups are the oldest and most reliable method of keeping your data safe. In the age of ransomware attacks, where attackers encrypt your data to extort you, having backed up data can be a lifesaver. Data loss can also occur due to equipment breakdown, cloud storage shortage, or human error. Ensure that your backups are protected and encrypted
b. Don’t just depend on automatic online backups. Assign multiple team members to ensure regular manual backups
c. Store your backups on offline endpoint devices with strong passwords

9. Don’t Shy Away from Investing in Security

One of the most common traps companies fall into is the “secure enough” mentality. Unless you work in complete digital isolation from the world, you are likely on some hacker’s list already. Big companies invest heavily in cybersecurity and still become targets. Small and medium-sized businesses must invest in security training, white-hat hackers, and the latest detection and monitoring tools.

10. Conduct Regular Cybersecurity Assessments

With attack tactics rapidly evolving, you cannot become laid-back in your security approach. Constantly assessing vulnerabilities in your system and re-evaluating risks and potential threats should be a regular activity. ACE offers free security consultations with security experts to help organizations assess their current security posture, identify vulnerabilities in the system and map out the solutions that would help strengthen their security.

11. Most Importantly – Use a Managed Security Services Provider!

Managed Security Services is the one-stop solution to your cybersecurity worries. In today’s cloud-based work environment, third-party cloud-based vendors provide comprehensive, budget-friendly security solutions. Managed Security Service Providers are the one-stop solution to your cybersecurity worries. In today’s cloud-based work environment, third-party cloud-based vendors provide comprehensive, budget-friendly security solutions.   

ACE Managed Security Services compiles Managed SIEM, Managed Firewall, Managed EDR+EPP, and Managed Email Security. We ensure your end-to-end protection with a 24/7/365 Security Operations Center, proactive threat hunting, and constant vulnerability assessments. 

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