Data Security in 2021
Similar to 2020, cyber threats will continue to increase with technology naturally evolving in 2021. There has been a significant development in technology and working practices which have left plenty of opportunities for businesses to grow and innovate. Unfortunately, this opportunity also represented a chance for cybercriminals to infiltrate our systems and carry out data and financially driven cyber-attacks. Businesses which have not yet adapted to advancements in technology and working practices are especially vulnerable to exploitation of gaps in their security strategies by cybercriminals.
Data security is something every business should keep in mind. In 2021 cybercrime is predicted to cost businesses approximately £4.27 trillion. If one viewed cybercrime as a country, it would form the third-largest economy in the world. Besides the financial impact cybercrime can have on a business, it also inflicts serious reputational damage to the brand, causing many businesses to lose members and valuable customers. As an example, 59% of customers state that they are likely to avoid companies that have suffered a cyber-attack in the past year.
With that in mind, Astec IT has put together a list of 10 different solutions which might help keep your data secure within the modern world.
1. Device Encryption
Your personal or company devices are the key access points for your confidential data and an area where implementing data security is very important. Think about the amount of confidential data you have spread across different devices; if these devices ended up in the wrong hands, the consequences could be very serious. As an example, cybercriminals can easily sell your company’s sensitive data on the dark web, which would severely damage your valuable client relationships. Additionally, situations like these could deter other companies or customers from working with you in the future.
To protect your data on your devices, you can implement Device Encryption, which can be managed by your IT support partner. In the case of your device being lost or stolen, Astec IT can quickly encrypt the device and all its data, making it impossible for a third party to access the device. By converting all business data on the device into ciphertext, cybercriminals cannot use it maliciously as it will look like complete nonsense to them. On the other hand, if your device is found or returned, all your data can be decrypted again, giving you almost instant access once the device has been returned.
2. Multi-Factor Authentication
Traditional passwords are no longer secure enough to keep your data safe. Cybercriminals are continually creating more sophisticated attacks using increasingly advanced technology. Due to that, no matter how vigilant your employees are about their passwords, their details could still be compromised.
This is when Multi-Factor Authentication can be added as an extra layer of protection. Multi-factor Authentication is the use of two or more independent variables used to assess the identity of a user requesting access to an application or service. The most popular form of authentication factor is two-factor authentication (2FA), which is typically something like a password. It pairs your first authentication factor with the second one of an entirely different kind.
Whenever Multi-Factor Authentication has been enabled for an account, an authentication check is sent to the user each time the user attempts to log in from another machine. The authorization check can be sent in various ways depending on the application and the way the user has set up the multi-factor authentication. The authorization check can be in the form of a passcode sent to the email account assigned to the user or by SMS to the user’s telephone. Another method of authorization is to send a push notification to a registered device such as a smartphone. The user must enter this code before accessing the account. Without the authorization or the current code, a password thief cannot enter an account.
3. Cyber Security Awareness Training
The majority of all cyberattacks are caused by human error, which means simply educating employees on what types of threats exist and how to deal with them can have a massive impact on your company’s data security.
We, at Astec IT, make sure your employees are always up to date regarding cybersecurity risks and procedures in order to minimise the risks of a cyberattack significantly.
4. Password Managers
One of the reasons why employees are seen as such a bad risk to your business is due to them often reusing the same, weak passwords across multiple personal and business accounts. A weak password is not only extremely dangerous but reusing it on different platforms makes it easier for cybercriminals to access your details. Nowadays, cybercriminals have access to technology that can predict weak passwords and run them against your email addresses until they gain access, leaving your business extremely vulnerable to a cyber-attack.
One of the best ways to encourage employees to use a strong and secure password is by introducing a Password Manager, as it will make it easy for your employees to create, store, and access complex but secure passwords via an encrypted vault. Password-Managers, such as LastPass, store all your login details on a cloud, so you will never have to worry about forgetting or misplacing your password again. Instead, simply input the account URL, your username, and password to gain easy access to your accounts, systems, websites, and applications. Password-Managers are also encrypted, meaning your data is completely secure.
5. Email Security Solutions
Most cyberattacks are being carried out via email in which cybercriminals often embed viruses, spam, phishing, and identity theft in order to gain access to your systems and data. As an example, CEO fraud is often implemented to trick employees into giving the cybercriminals important financial or personal data. Within this kind of attack, the cybercriminal impersonates a senior member of your organisation. These types of attacks could be detrimental to your business, leading to not only financial loss but also reputational damage and potential fines from authorities.
An easy but effective way to avoid email-based cyberattacks is by implementing an effective Email Security System. This system can manage all the emails which you receive, filtering out any harmful or unwanted emails before they reach your inbox (e.g., fraudulent emails and spam). These types of emails will be quarantined and can be manually blocked and released once looked over. Having these steps in place will massively reduce the risk of cyberattacks, in addition to reducing the number of spam employees receive daily.
Astec IT is partnering with Sophos, a high-end security software that creates easy-to-use protection for Astec IT’s clients. As part of that, we implement anti-spoofing and anti-spam filters to prevent cybercriminals from reaching employees. Additionally, the advanced software recognises suspicious activity by checking it against a database. This way CEO fraud can be prevented.
6. Managed Malware Protection
When your employee clicks the wrong link or accidentally downloads malicious content, your data security could be compromised. Therefore, having Managed Malware Protection will help protect against cyber-attacks such as phishing, malicious links, and hacked legitimate websites.
Regardless of whether your employees are office-based or working remotely, a Managed Malware Protection will filter all internal traffic, blocking any potentially harmful links before a connection can be established. This way, your employees can be prevented from accessing malicious websites and content, helping you keep your data secure.
7. Dark Web Monitoring
If your employees are using weak passwords, cybercriminals may have already gained access to their accounts and have sold them on the dark web. In fact, even if your employees have always been using secure passwords, their login credentials could still end up on the dark web if websites they have logged into were hacked. Once your details are on the dark web, they can be sold to people who will use them maliciously to access sensitive data, potentially leaving you with irreparable reputational damage as well as financial loss.
Dark Web Monitoring will continually search the dark web for all login credentials associated with your company by for example searching the name of your email domain. If one is found, you can take immediate action to prevent your compromised details from being used maliciously and any compromised password can be changed.
8. Link Protection
Sharing links is an easy and efficient way to direct other people to certain websites, files, and forms. This is why it is incredibly common to share links via email on a day-to-day basis between colleagues and external contacts. To prevent a cyberattack, however, you need to be sure that the links you are receiving are coming from a legitimate source and are safe to open.
In this case, Link Protection can help you increase your data security. Link Protection will instantly scan and test all incoming links when they are clicked. In the case of the link being genuine, the employee will be able to access the relevant side quickly and safely. In the case of a malicious link, the access will be blocked from the website and the user will be informed that the link is not legitimate. By introducing this extra layer of protection, employees are prevented from accidentally accessing malicious content and it, therefore, protects the business from phishing scams.
9. Managed Antivirus
Nowadays, computer viruses and malware are constantly evolving and becoming increasingly sophisticated, leading them to penetrate your device without you knowing. Often standard antivirus software is not enough to protect your business from this increasing threat, as instead an effective antivirus solution that is managed by a team of experienced IT professionals is needed to keep your business safe.
10. Partner with IT Specialist
Due to the high amount of new and evolving threats, there are many different cybersecurity solutions to maintain data security. While we have listed several options and examples above, we always recommend a multi-layered approach in order to ensure there are no gaps in your cyber and data security as well as maximise the protection of your business.
If you are interested in finding out more about ways to protect your business from cybercriminals or you are looking to take on an IT provider, contact us here. We currently offer a free IT consultation, so don’t forget to fill out our IT Workplace Assessment, so we can come back to you with our recommendations.