Rapid technological development has compelled businesses to create a strong online presence, transform core business processes, and facilitate the seamless functioning of information systems and data communication. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the inception of the metaverse and Web 3.0 have opened new avenues for businesses in the fast-paced digital economy. However, technological innovation has also created new ways for cybercriminals to breach security and steal or manipulate sensitive business data.
Cybersecurity has become a primary concern for businesses throughout the globe. Cybercriminals use advanced tools and complex mechanisms to intrude into networks and applications. However, there are several ways businesses can improve cyber security and mitigate security threats. This article elucidates various steps businesses can follow to incorporate state-of-the-art security measures and prepare themselves to counter potential cyberattacks. Let’s start with an explanation of cyber security and why it’s crucial for businesses:
What is Cyber Security?
Cyber security refers to security measures and practices to protect networks, applications, and connected computers or devices from external or internal security breaches, threats, and malicious attacks. For example, businesses may receive security threats through the internet or internally through employee mishandling or intentional data leaks. Cyber security measures include recurrent comprehensive security assessment, threat detection, and implementation of counter mechanisms to mitigate attacks.
Importance of Cyber Security for Businesses
Businesses continuously face cyber security threats, resulting in billions of dollars in loss worldwide. In addition, the increased reliance on technology has multiplied the importance of cyber security for businesses over the years. As a result, organizations now recognize the need to hire security professionals to ensure the implementation of cutting-edge security protocols. Here are some of the advantages of cyber security for businesses:
All-Out Protection: Today, businesses face internal and external security threats. To conduct cyberattacks, cybercriminals use various malicious software and tools, including ransomware, Trojans, adware, etc., or techniques like phishing, smishing, denial of service, SQL injection, broken links, man-in-the-middle, and other forms of attacks. On top of that, insider risks can arise from current or former workers or partners and can be unintentional or malevolent. Therefore, the purpose of cyber security is not only to counter external attacks but also to prevent any insider security threats.
Compliance with Safety Protocols: Cyber security provides comprehensive regulatory compliance to businesses that take customer payments online. Cyber security professionals ensure PCI DSS compliance to secure sensitive banking information and prevent data exposure.
High Return on Investment: Cyber security has allowed businesses to decrease their data breach costs. As a result, companies receive a higher return on investment in cyber security, the figure being as high as 179%.
Customer Satisfaction: For every business, survival and perpetual growth highly depend on your building and maintaining reputation. Customers trust companies that keep their data secure and exhibit a solid cyber security posture. Customer satisfaction leads to retention and word-of-mouth marketing which, in turn, results in growth.
Steps to Improve Your Business’s Cybersecurity
Here are eight steps to improve your business’s cybersecurity and protect your networks and applications from intrusion:
Revise Security Policies
Every day, businesses confront thousands of new security risks. As a result, data and network security implementation has become a continual process, and enterprises must revise current security policies frequently. Security professionals must detect possible security risks and update security mechanisms and strategies to integrate cutting-edge security protocols. Businesses must develop inventive methods to combat the most recent security threats.
Communicate Security Policies Effectively and Ensure Strict Implementation
Developing intelligent security policies is not enough. To maintain data and network security, businesses need to implement security policies in their entirety, which is impossible without effectively communicating security policies to employees at all levels. Therefore, ensure strict implementation of security measures and encourage your employees to comply with revised security policies.
Implement Multi-Factor Authentication Algorithms
2-factor authentication or multi-factor authentication has been a successful technique to enhance the security of user data, applications, and web or database servers. Multi-factor authentication algorithms add an extra layer of security to username authentication. Besides a standard username password combination, multi-factor authentication uses biometric systems, one-time passwords, or other authentication techniques to verify users before granting access. Businesses can use 2FA or MFA for customer and employee verification to secure access to sensitive information.
Identify Areas of Data Exposure and Compromised Security
One of the most crucial steps in improving cyber security is identifying data exposure points or compromised security within a network or web application. Cybersecurity professionals utilize various techniques to identify security vulnerabilities in a business’s network, the internet of things (IoT), applications, hardware devices, and the cloud. Here are some of the most common and effective techniques to identify security vulnerabilities:
Network Penetration Testing
Internal and external network penetration testing consists of a series of tests that use AI-powered algorithms to identify weak links in a network. Security professionals plan an intentional cyberattack on a network to detect points of compromised security within a network. The test reports contain an in-depth analysis of network security, possible causes of data exposure, and recommendations to mitigate network vulnerabilities.
Vulnerability scanning comprises a group of tests to detect weaknesses in security protocols and identify broken links and injection flaws in web applications. In addition, security professionals perform rigorous testing of business information systems, including source code assessment and static code analysis.
Evaluating User Access Rights
Data breaches are usually caused by the negligence of employees with access to data they might not need to perform their daily activities. Consequently, it’s essential to evaluate user privileges and allow only as many access rights as they need.
Implement Effective Firewalls
Firewalls and web application firewalls are the first line of defense for any business network or web application. Firewalls are hardware or software tools that monitor web traffic and block unauthorized connection requests. Web application firewalls are the same, except they are dedicated to web-based business applications to provide an extra layer of security, monitor user login sessions and IPs, detect any unusual network traffic, and ensure maximum uptime.
Use Intrusion Detection Systems
Intrusion detection systems are software or hardware tools programmed to actively monitor network traffic and connection requests and identify potential security threats. It works by sensing abnormal behavior of connections and detecting an ongoing attack through signature-based detection, anomaly-based detection, and hybrid detection methods.
Signature-based detection techniques use blockchain technology to retain and update network signatures, monitor the application and network traffic’s behavior patterns, and detect any unknown attacks, including an active denial of service (DoS) or distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. Anomaly-based detection methods focus on slow HTTP attacks, assuming that more than 15-20 HTTP connection requests from a single IP are attacked. Hybrid is a mix of both signature and anomaly-based detection techniques.
Leverage Managed Cloud Services for Security and Data Backup
Managed cloud services have allowed businesses to eliminate the need to install and maintain extra hardware and software for security or data backup. In a managed cloud service, a third-party security provider monitors and maintains a business’s network security from a remote location. In such a setup, companies do not require 24/7 upkeep of servers and network monitoring.
Cloud data backup has become a critical component of a disaster recovery plan for businesses. When data is backed up in a cloud, businesses can quickly recover from an unfortunate cyberattack. In addition, companies must synchronize local web application data and business databases with managed cloud storage.
Employees are among the most significant stakeholders of a business. Implementation of cyber security in its true spirit is impossible without educating employees. Inform your employees about the possible security threats and how using social media and other platforms on devices connected to the organization’s internal network can result in a cyberattack. Employees must know how to secure their data from cybercriminals, minimize human mistakes, and responsibly access and use sensitive information.
Cybersecurity is becoming a rising concern for organizations and businesses worldwide. With cybercrime on the rise, companies must implement effective cybersecurity measures to prevent attacks and ensure data protection. The actions outlined above can considerably assist your business in enhancing cyber security and reducing the likelihood of data breaches and cyberattacks.