With every new transaction or employee login, the risk of a cybersecurity breach increases exponentially. So, whether you are an individual browsing the internet or a large-scale corporate, you need to implement certain security practices to prevent data loss and reduce the risk of a breach.
From passwords and infrastructures to security awareness and beyond, we will use six practical strategies to help you strengthen your defenses. And by implementing these, you can safeguard your digital assets and operate in a more secure online environment.
Let’s get right into it.
What is a Cybersecurity breach?
Simply put, a cybersecurity breach is any security violation that exploits system or network vulnerabilities. A breach implies that your system security has been compromised, and the cybercriminal has gained unauthorized access to your data and can manipulate however they like.
The information can be stolen, leaked, altered, deleted, or manipulated in other ways with malicious intent. Therefore, a data breach can seriously disrupt regular operations and negatively affect individuals and organizations.
Phases of a Data Breach: A simple outline
After the attacker carries out their initial research and locates network vulnerabilities, the security breach process begins. Here is a basic outline of what a general data breach looks like:
1. Initial attacks
An attacker exploits the system vulnerabilities using phishing attacks, compromising passwords, or some other way to access the organizational network.
2. The waiting period
An attacker generally goes dormant after gaining access to the company’s system or network. This is mainly to learn more about the operations, monitor activity, and gather any other helpful information that could be useful down the road.
3. Lateral movement
Cybercriminals move laterally to learn more about the layout of the network. And as they attain more and more information, they move deeper into the network, hoping to get their hands on privileged credentials.
4. Data exfiltration
After gaining privileged credentials, the attacker extracts data from the compromised system. A hacker can intercept the data by using trojans, backdoors, etc.
5. Remove logs
Once the attacker gets access to the required assets, they remove the logs and timestamps to avoid detection and eliminate any other evidence linking that might link their identity to the breach.
During the last phase of a data breach, the attacker generally sells the data to the highest bidder on the dark web. They can also exploit the data and ask for a ransom payment.
6 Proven Ways of Preventing Cybersecurity Breaches
To avoid this vicious data breach cycle, we have 6 proven strategies to help you prevent Cybersecurity Breaches. Take a look:
1. Limit access to sensitive data
The first step in preventing cybersecurity breaches is to limit access to sensitive data. You can implement access levels so employees can access and interact with the data according to their privileges.
By limiting access, you can take care of insider threats and prevent unauthorized employees from accessing sensitive information. Here is how you can manage access:
- Use role-based access control to grant access according to their job role.
- Use MFA or multi-factor authentication for enhanced security.
- Monitor any unauthorized activity.
- Review permissions.
2. Conduct security awareness training.
Data breaches can result from carelessness as much as some other malicious intent. At times, employees can unintentionally compromise a system, and it could cost you quite a lot of money.
Therefore, educating employees about these risks and informing them about security practices to prevent breaches is essential. Security awareness training and workshops can equip your employees to recognise better and handle potential security risks. Here are some important topics to cover:
- Secure browsing habits.
- Identifying phishing and other cyberattacks.
- Significance of creating strong and unique passwords.
- Necessary data handling protocols.
- Importance of regularly updating software.
- Reporting suspicious system/network activity.
- Best practices for securely accessing and sharing data remotely.
3. Update your software regularly
Another crucial practice is regular software updates. This practice ensures that your OS, system software, and applications are up-to-date and equipped with the latest protections. You can even opt for automatic updates so that your system can always be protected against a threat or a security risk by installing patches, security fixes, and updates on its own.
4. Secure the network at all costs
Securing the network is crucial to protecting your organization against cybersecurity threats. It is to ensure that your system remains protected using adequate network perimeter security. You can even employ endpoint security practices to handle data security in a distributed work environment.
Using security protocols, you can limit unauthorized lateral movement and create isolated network zones to prevent the attacker from moving deeper into your network even after penetration.
- Use network perimeter security measures like firewalls, intrusion prevention, or detection systems.
- Deploy endpoint security solutions.
- Use malware detection software.
- Use micro-segmentation to create isolated network zones.
- Encrypt sensitive data to ensure data confidentiality.
- Use secure network protocols, such as HTTPS.
- Update network devices regularly.
5. Practice stronger password policies
One of the first things an attacker targets is your password. That is because it offers a straightforward route through the network once the credentials are compromised. Therefore, an organization must enforce more robust password policies and guidelines.
Keeping a password manager to generate and store more complex passwords avoids the hassle. Here are some strategies that can help create and manage a strong password:
- Use uppercase and lowercase letters.
- Use numbers and special characters.
- Set a minimum password length of 15 characters or more.
- Avoid common passwords.
- Do not use the same passwords across multiple accounts.
- Update your passwords within 6 months.
- Use two-factor authentication [2FA] or multi-factor authentication [MFA] to increase security layers.
6. Develop a substantial data breach response plan
Many organizations don’t know how to deal with a data breach if their network gets attacked. Therefore, it is crucial to develop a robust response plan to minimize the damage caused by the cyberattack.
This plan should have proper guidelines outlining ways to handle a data breach. It will also help you assemble the post-attack report to analyze security vulnerabilities. Here are some crucial steps for the breach response plan:
- Establish an incident response team.
- Define roles within the group.
- Implement a detection and monitoring system.
- Establish robust communication protocols.
- Test out the response plan.
- Regularly review and improve the program.
Browse around the internet more securely: Use a reliable VPN
Be it an individual or an organization, investing in practical security tools is a must. And one such tool is a VPN (Virtual private network), which can allow you to browse the internet more securely.
A VPN does more than hide an IP address! It helps people access regional deals, bypass government-imposed bans, host private servers, and encrypt network traffic. With the help of advanced encryption protocols, your data can be protected from unauthorized monitoring and interception by passing it through a secure network tunnel.
Security experts recommend that individuals and organizations invest in a reliable VPN service and ensure their communication channels are encrypted to help improve their network security against potential cybersecurity threats.
Organizations are urged to be more cautious when maintaining network security against the risk of a breach. Investing in practical security management tools and enforcing protocols can help you reduce the blow of breach attacks.
However, it is equally important to educate your employees regarding these risks so that they know and understand the scope of the problem and do not fall prey to vicious security attacks.