All it takes is one mistake, one wrong click or weak password, one unpatched vulnerability, for a malicious threat actor to infiltrate your network. Once they are inside, the options are endless. Security can never be 100% airtight, but making sure you have strong armor at the frontline will critically minimize the attacks that have a chance of penetrating your network. How is this defense built? Most of the time, our mind jumps right to the tools – which technologies can we use to armor up? But effective security is much more than that – setting in place the right mindset, personnel, processes AND tools is the key to keeping your data secure. In this blog post, we will share critical mistakes that managers, IT teams and employees alike should be aware of in order to make the right choices and keep the company network safe.
1. Clicking dubious Links
Phishing emails have become the norm for virtually everyone. We receive them on a daily basis, we try to avoid them, and sometimes we fall for them. The links can lead to phishing pages that will ask for your credentials or bank/credit card info. Or they refer your machine to a malware or ransomware download site. When in doubt – don’t click the link!
No doubt your enterprise has email filtering and phishing protection in place already - but even the best protections out there leave gaps. ThreatSTOP's IP and DNS security solutions closes that gap by blocking attempts to reach suspicious domains. In particular, ThreatSTOP flags NODs - newly observed domains. A favorite tactic of phishers is to auto-generate many "fresh' domains that point to malicious websites. We stop the communication to these websites before it even starts.
2. Reusing passwords
Let’s talk about password recycling. A recent Google study found that 53% of people reuse the same password across multiple platforms (only 13% use a different password for each of their accounts). Today, businesses’ data is being compromised at such a fast rate, that everyone has had their account compromised on some platform. But if you’re using the same password across different accounts – one account compromise means access to many or even all of your accounts. In 2019, 80% of breaches were caused by password compromise. We highly recommend using a different password for each platform and account. If you really want to use the same one, use two-factor authentication to add another layer of protection.
3. Procrastinating on software updates
Pressing the “later” button on a software update is a common bad habit. Most have done it, yet the effort required for the task is so miniscule compared to the damage that can be done when leaving a vulnerability unpatched. The notorious WannaCry attack in 2017 utilized an already-patched Windows SMB exploit, infecting over 200,000 machines over the course of only 4 days. These computers could have been protected by the click of a button, but were left unpatched and vulnerable to the ransomware infection. Make sure your OS and programs are always up to date, especially widely used software such as Office and Java.
4. Employing generic user privileges
The more privileges an employee at your company has, the bigger a target they are for attackers. At the company level, more high-privilege accounts means more potential doors for attackers to enter through to breach your network. A least-privilege approach can help minimize this risk, meaning IT admins grant each user the minimal amount of privileges needed to do their job. A privileged access management solution can also be helpful in restricting access to various parts of the network. In addition to restrictions, IT teams should also monitor accounts for unusual activity, and make sure to revoke permissions once an employee leaves the company.
5. Overlooking backup and encryption
Always back up your important data. If for some reason your device stops working, or is stolen, not having a backup can mean losing all your work. If you fall victim to ransomware, especially the kind that doesn’t actually give your files back even if you pay up, you definitely want to have a backup of your sensitive data. When attempting to protect your data from a possible theft, encryption adds a layer of security. You may lose your local files, but their thief will not be able to access them. Backup and encryption awareness is extremely important in every company and enterprise.
6. Skimping on security software
In so many cases, investing in a good security tool that will actually protect your from most threats will save you a lot more money later in ransom payments, network damage, brand impairment, IT expenditures, and remediation costs. The price of a data breach or ransomware attack can reach millions of dollars. Your security solution does not need to be the most expensive, shiny product on the market. Honestly, those are rarely the most effective. Choose a tool that fits your budget, and most importantly, that works. Blocking known threats automatically is the most effective way to critically minimize the chances of a breach or attack, protecting the network from the minute the solution is deployed.
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