3 ways to protect yourself from cyberattacks in the midst of an IT security skill shortage

With COVID-19 variants on the rise, widespread remote work may be sticking around longer than IT leaders would like, which comes with a heightened risk for cyberattacks that could expose customer data, steal company information, or take control of internal operations. The rise in attacks comes at a time when cybersecurity experts are in short supply — in 2020, over 3 million cybersecurity positions needed to be filled.

protect yourself from cyberattacks

Enterprises face a catch-22 situation: Security is more vital than ever, but cybersecurity positions are nearly impossible to fill. Fortunately, there are several security best practices enterprises can follow that don’t require them to have an in-house cybersecurity expert.

3 tips to enhance your security now

Here are three best practices that can help strengthen your security sooner rather than later:

1. Establish authorization safeguards

Even the smallest of openings can be exploited by cybercriminals to gain access to a businesses’ network. Case in point: the Colonial Pipeline hack, where an inactive authorized account was compromised and allowed cybercriminals to do as they pleased with the company’s data. It’s essential for IT leaders to integrate the proper authorization protocols to prevent a Colonial Pipeline-like attack from happening to them.

Glaring security oversights like a newly inactive authorized account or a successful phishing attempt on an authorized account must be addressed as soon as they occur — not hours, days or weeks later. In fact, four out of five breaches that involved hacking or brute force tactics used lost or stolen employee credentials to enter the system, according to a report from Verizon. And three out of four “common” data security breaches are caused by privilege misuse — when employees have unrestricted access to a system even when it’s not needed to do their job.

Organizations need to establish authorization protocols — like multi-factor authentication, regular password changes and least privilege user access — to mitigate the likelihood cybercriminals will have unfettered access to the system.

While business leaders may fear that requiring employees to jump through hoops to access sensitive information will slow down internal operations or functions, the consequences of a successful attack will disrupt business operations significantly more than the time it takes to follow a few authorization best practices.

2. Leverage encryption

Encryption uses algorithms to make data or other information an unreadable cipher if one doesn’t have the right cryptographic key. Encryption ensures only the audience that the information is intended for can access the information.

Encryption key management — the process of creating, storing, deleting, and destroying encrypted keys — makes secure access to sensitive information possible. By establishing key-encrypted access, information is not saved directly in the system, and the key can be changed by the organization at-will.

Without the encryption key, it’s difficult and time-consuming for bad actors to guess which cipher the sender used to encrypt the message, as well as what keys were used as variables — which is why encryption is such a valuable tool to deter cybercriminals.

Solutions that can automatically pre-activate, activate, change, and reassign encryption keys are helping organizations of all sizes use this type of complex technology, even without a cybersecurity expert. However, be sure to lean on vendor-neutral trusted advisors who have the resources, network, and experience to ensure your encryption key management solution will fit your enterprises’ needs.

3. If all else fails, utilize DRaaS (disaster-recovery-as-a-service) solutions

The true meaning of cybersecurity can be boiled down to preparation, especially for the worst possible case scenario. If a cyberattack is successful and sensitive information is compromised, a recovery plan or a solution can help mitigate the damage. This is where a disaster-recovery-as-a-service (DRaaS) solution comes into play, as it replicates server information and digital business operations onto a recovery site, allowing for a backup to replace the main server in the event of an emergency, malfunction or system compromise.

Additionally, DRaaS solutions can be fortified with an immutable backup to add another layer of security to their infrastructure. Immutable backups secure data and make it unable to be changed, establishing a fixed, undeletable data source for your disaster recovery solution. With an immutable backup, cyberattacks will encounter difficulty attempting to permanently delete or alter data when a fixed source exists for recovery.

DRaaS solutions lower the chance for cybercriminals to cause permanent damage or possess sole ownership of sensitive data. Without it, cybercriminals may hold your data hostage and disrupt business operations, leak sensitive information, or destroy the data if their demands are not met.

Even though cybersecurity talent is scarce and cyberattacks are at an all-time high, organizations can still strengthen their security posture today. By combining proactive security measures with a disaster recovery solution, you can mitigate the likelihood that an attack will be successful when it happens.

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