Cyberattacks are ever-present, but the confusion surrounding times of uncertainty can cause people to let their guards down. This can not only increase overall cybercrime activity but can also lead to an increase in successful attacks. And once successful, cybercriminals could easily sit on a business’s network for months without being detected.
This in mind, it’s important to make sure you’re covering your bases. Especially in times of crisis, it’s important to check that you’re keeping up with the fundamentals of cyber-hygiene.
Today, we’re going to go back to the fundamentals. We’re going to talk about what you should be checking off on your cyber-hygiene list.
- Multifactor authentication
Multifactor authentication (MFA) is no longer just nice to have—it’s a must-have for any critical systems. Usernames and passwords were designed for a time when people only had a handful to remember; these days, we have too many to keep in mind. This can lead to people reusing passwords, and ultimately leaving their accounts open to compromise.
This is a particular problem when it comes to cloud services. As more people work at home, businesses will increasingly rely on cloud services and shift their infrastructure into the cloud. One of the biggest threats to cloud services is user credentials. With this being the case, MFA needs to be an essential part of your security strategy, whether it’s email-based, SMS based, app-based like Google Authenticator or Authy, or hardware-based like Yubikeys.
- Manage your identities
One way of mitigating cyber-risk is to reduce the potential ways that criminals can make off with valuable data. This means keeping data on a need-to-use basis and making sure that only the right people can access the right information. For example, a graphic designer won’t need access to company HR data or customer financial data. By making sure users can access only the data and systems they need, you can not only reduce the likelihood of insider threats but also reduce the damage done if an external malicious actor does compromise their accounts. To do this, you want to make sure new accounts and existing accounts conform to this principle of least privilege. User permissions can grow unwieldy over time, so now’s a good time to schedule some time to run an audit and take action as needed. Plus, it’s worth scheduling these audits to occur on a regular basis.
- Know and protect your crown jewels
You can’t paint security with a broad brush. Some data could be riskier to lose than others. Some employees need more sensitive access than others. These are your crown jewels, and they should gain additional protection compared to the rest of the organization and infrastructure. This allows you to focus your security efforts and resources in the right places and avoiding overburdening individual employees.
For example, systems administrators will have a lot of power and access to critical data and systems. Adding more steps requiring them to turn on strong two-factor authentication (2FA) for access to critical systems (or even more factors) could be one step for this. Another should involve active monitoring of their accounts for indicators of suspicious activity (which may indicate an insider attack, but more likely means an account was compromised). For lower-risk employees like graphic designers or salespeople, you may not require the same number of hoops for them to jump through.
4. Protect your endpoints
With more users working outside the office, the battle for security gets waged even more at the endpoint. Endpoints are simply everywhere—from company-issued laptops to store-bought, personal internet of things (IoT) devices. MSPs have less control over the networks to which the endpoints connect, so endpoint security has become more essential than ever.
Antivirus (AV) needs to remain up-to-date, but ultimately, this increasingly hostile environment often requires more advanced protection. A good endpoint detection and response (EDR) tool can help detect—and remediate—threats at the endpoint level beyond malware. Since attackers increasingly use malware obfuscation methods and fileless attacks, having an EDR that can detect anomalies that could be attack indicators beyond traditional malware files will be essential for protecting customers working outside their corporate office.
5. Patch, patch, and patch
Patching should be one of the most fundamental practices for any security package. Vulnerabilities get discovered frequently, and cybercriminals can quickly rush to exploit these issues. Making sure your customers’ endpoints have the latest patches—both for their operating system and for their third-party software—helps prevent a good number of (mostly) easily preventable attacks. Set up an automated patch management schedule and stick to it. If any endpoints appear out-of-date in your RMM system, try to fix them as soon as possible.
Good fundamentals matter
Practicing sound fundamentals often makes the biggest difference in defeating cybercriminals. Highly motivated criminals may use sophisticated techniques, but more often than not most cybercriminals look for easy targets, like unpatched systems or accounts with weak, common passwords. As challenging times continue, don’t let these fundamentals fall by the wayside.
Stay tuned for part two of this where I cover another five cyber hygiene tips to help you keep your customers safe.