Cybersecurity Awareness Month has come to an end, and this year’s overarching theme was: Do Your part. Be cyber smart. Aimed to encourage both organizations and individuals to do their part to protect their cyberspace. If we’ve learned anything over the past year, it’s that the cybersecurity landscape is ever-changing. So, what were the takeaways from this month? Let’s review.
The Importance of Cyber Hygiene
For the better part of the last year and a half, many organizations have shifted to a hybrid or full remote work environment. We quickly learned how wildly unprepared we were for this, as there was little to no cyber hygiene taking place. Employees were using public networks to access company applications, leaving devices open and unprotected, using weak passwords, the list goes on. In turn, cybercriminals were able to take advantage of this, and ransomware attacks significantly increased due to remote work.
Takeaway: organizations must own their role in cybersecurity by starting with basic cyber hygiene protocols to keep their employees and company secure. This includes emphasizing strong passwords and using multi-factor authentication, backing up data, and updating software. Starting with the basics can help your organization get in the groove of reducing risk, and working toward a secure workspace.
Ransomware is on the Rise
One of the major lessons learned over the past year is that ransomware attacks don’t only happen to major corporations. While it still holds true that some industries are more vulnerable than others, it’s important that all organizations take the necessary security steps to prepare for any type of threat.
Takeaway: Malicious actors aren’t going away anytime soon. As the cybersecurity landscape evolves, so will attackers. In order to best prevent ransomware attacks, organizations will need to crack down on cybersecurity best practices, and implement necessary tools to reduce risk.
Fight the Phish
Phishing attacks and scams skyrocketed since the pandemic began. “COVID-19 Relief Payment” “CDC Updates” “Small Business Loan” and “Tax Extension Deadline” were some of the most prevalent phishing emails that led to data breaches and hacking over the past year. Unfortunately, employees and individuals opening these emails had to be very vigilant to determine the real source.
Takeaway: Unfortunately, human error is the cause of many data breaches and cyber-attacks. In order to combat this, organizations need to implement cybersecurity awareness training for their employees in order to prevent and mitigate risk. Effective security awareness training helps employees understand the vital role they play in helping to combat security breaches, understand proper cyber hygiene, the risks associated with certain actions, and identifying phishing emails and other cyber risks they may encounter via email or the internet.
Overall Organizational Cybersecurity
Many organizations think that a cyber-attack or data breach could never happen to them, until it’s too late. On the other hand, they may think their data is secure, when in reality it’s not actually being taken seriously.
Takeaway: Security needs to be made a priority. This includes equipping staff with the tools they need to keep the organization safe, and implementing processes for better security. many organizations trying to strengthen their cybersecurity efforts have adopted the NIST cybersecurity framework. This provides organizations with overall cybersecurity improvement, a better understanding of cybersecurity practices, and how to mitigate day-to-day risks.
The NIST framework allows organizations to analyze what activities are most critical within the company and ensure proper resources are allocated to protect them. By implementing better security practices, raising awareness, educating employees, and implementing cybersecurity processes, we can all be more resilient and combat threats. Do your part and be cyber smart year-round.