As per projections from Cybersecurity Ventures, the anticipated global annual expense of cybercrime is set to reach $9.5 trillion USD in 2024. Adding to this, the escalating expenses associated with damages arising from cybercrime are expected to hit $10.5 trillion by the year 2025.
It’s no surprise, then, that staying protected from cyberattacks poses a significant challenge. Keeping pace becomes difficult, as cybercriminals continually seek innovative ways to exploit security vulnerabilities.
Nonetheless, there are ways to help you thwart cyberattacks. If you’re wondering where to start, however, we've compiled some general cybersecurity best practices for you to implement.
Let’s take a look.
Table of Contents
1. Generate Robust Passwords and Update Them Frequently
According to the U.S. Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, a strong password, spanning 16 characters or more, should not be a common word or mnemonic but include special characters.
Regularly changing passwords is also crucial, with experts suggesting that corporations and individuals ought to alter passwords every 60 to 90 days across all accounts. Consequently, utilizing a password manager becomes essential.
2. Opt for a Password Management Tool
There are many online password managers, ranging from free to paid, offering a convenient way to store and manage all your account details.
To start with, Google Chrome also offers a password manager, which not only stores your passwords but also notifies you if your login information has been detected on the dark web. However, opting for more comprehensive paid solutions is advised, depending on your needs.
3. Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Two-factor authentication (2FA) and even multi-factor authentication has also become the norm as an additional layer of security beyond traditional username and password credentials.
In the context of 2FA, access to an online account requires approving access via another device associated with the account. Typically, this additional device is a smartphone, but it can be any designated hardware token or biometric device.
When a user attempts to log in, they must provide the standard credentials as well as a secondary authentication method, such as a unique code sent to their mobile device, a fingerprint scan, or a time-sensitive code generated by a dedicated authentication app.
This ensures that even if a malicious actor gains access to the primary credentials, they would still be unable to log in without the secondary authentication factor.
Overall, 2FA can block 100% of automated bots and 96% of phishing attacks, making this practice one of the most important cybersecurity tips you can implement.
4. Establish a Firewall
Establishing a firewall is a fundamental step in fortifying the security of a network against external threats. Essentially acting as a barrier, a firewall is designed to prevent unauthorized access and protect the network from potentially harmful data or malicious traffic.
Firewalls come in two primary forms: hardware and software. Hardware firewalls are typically physical devices installed between the network and external sources, serving as a frontline defense. On the other hand, software firewalls are applications or programs that run on individual devices, usually as part of the operating system (OS). However, there are bespoke software firewall solutions as well.
Certain business-grade routers may also have built-in firewalls to offer an additional layer of defense at a network level.
The implementation of firewalls is a crucial component of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, acting as a vigilant guardian against potential external threats.
5. Perform Antivirus Scans
Conducting frequent antivirus scans is essential to identify potential malware on your devices. Antivirus software actively scans for threats and maintains an up-to-date database of viruses and other malware.
Plainly put, antivirus software is the bread and butter of endpoint security, i.e., protection of end-user devices, such as desktops and laptops. However, for any serious organization, employing the services of professional cybersecurity firms is more than advisable.
6. Conduct Ongoing Dark Web Scans
Conducting continuous dark web scans represents a robust strategy in protecting organizations from potential unnoticed exposure of personally identifiable information (PII), be it of clients or otherwise. The dark web, notorious for its anonymity, frequently functions as a marketplace for stolen data and illicit activities.
Consistent scans entail regular monitoring of the dark web to detect any signs of personal information, including usernames, passwords, or financial details. This can be done independently via free and paid tools or offered as a service by cybersecurity firms.
Choosing dedicated services for dark web scans is advantageous, as they typically offer a more thorough and tailored approach to monitoring your digital identity.
For example, many credit card providers, such as Capital One, have also recognized the importance of dark web scans, even offering users active dark web monitoring as part of their services. But, regardless of the nature of your business, promptly identifying and mitigating potential threats to personal information remains crucial.
7. Regularly Update Your Software
Keeping your software up to date is yet another basic but critical aspect of cybersecurity. All the software your organization uses within its network is part of a digital attack surface that malicious actors can exploit if not updated. Software updates often contain crucial security upgrades that reduce these points of vulnerability.
Cybercriminals often capitalize on outdated software and gain unauthorized access to devices or networks. Many operating systems today provide the convenience of automatic software updates, but if your company uses in-house software solutions, their security is of vital importance and can only be maintained via regular manual updates.
8. Incorporate Cybersecurity Awareness Training
For businesses, the threat of a single employee opening a malicious email poses the risk of infecting the entire company network, making effective cybersecurity practices vital. Many companies introduce awareness training to educate employees on identifying fraudulent emails and staying vigilant. Shockingly, a report by Tessian reveals that 32% of employees comply with requests in scam messages, while 36% believe they've made at least one mistake in a 12-month span that may compromise security.
All in all, a tailored cybersecurity strategy, considering specific needs and preferences, is crucial for businesses. While identifying potential risks and implementing protective measures may be hard to execute, carrying out at least the most basic best practices can’t be understated.
What types of cybersecurity attacks exist?
Cybersecurity attacks include malware, spyware, phishing, and social engineering. Malware, a harmful file, damages devices; spyware collects data without user knowledge; phishing installs malware via fraudulent emails; social engineering gathers information by interacting with individuals or organizations.
How can I defend against cybersecurity threats?
To safeguard against cybersecurity threats, awareness is crucial. Security practices involve implementing two-factor authentication, conducting antivirus scans, and regularly updating strong passwords.
What is social engineering in cybersecurity?
Social engineering is the method of gathering information for cyberattacks. Hackers use details about a company to build trust with individuals, who may then disclose sensitive information. Techniques include phishing and accessing public databases.