Top 10 tips to stacking odds against cyber criminals

10 tips on cybersecurity@4x-100

In partnership with Cyphere –

In today’s climate, organisations must do their homework to protect themselves in cyberspace. With the increasing dependence on digital systems and data, the threat landscape is constantly evolving – making it more important than ever to take a proactive approach to cybersecurity.

Whether an organisation has mature security programme or a beginner, these 10 areas of cybersecurity encompass the biggest security pain points to enable an organisation’s growth. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of 10 areas, also recommended by NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre), to consider when it comes to protecting your organisation in cyberspace.  

1. Risk management

Adopt a risk-based approach to securing your assets hosting sensitive data. This means understanding the threats you face and prioritising the risks accordingly. Cybersecurity is not a one-size-fits-all proposition – different organisations will have different risks and vulnerabilities. Taking a risk-based approach can focus your resources on the areas that matter most.

2. Engagement and training

Build a cyber security programme that works for your people. This will lead to better trust, earlier detection and safety. Employees are often the biggest weak spot in cybersecurity – they may unknowingly open up your organisation to attack by clicking on malicious links or opening attachments from unknown senders. By ensuring that your employees are engaged with your cybersecurity programme, you can reduce the likelihood of them becoming unwitting accomplices in a cyberattack. 

3. Asset management

Integrate asset management into your org to know what data and systems you manage. This will help you understand where your vulnerabilities lie and enable you to take steps to protect yourself accordingly. Too often, organisations need to take stock of their assets and as a result, they are blindsided when an attack occurs. By taking an inventory of your data and systems, you can be better prepared for an incident. 

4. Architecture and Configuration

Getting security right early in the development cycle with well-architected services and systems reduces attack surface significantly. When designing new systems or modifying existing ones, think about the principles of least privilege and need to know. Ensure access is provided on need only basis. Use strong authentication methods such as two-factor authentication wherever possible. And consider using a microservices approach to break up large monolithic applications into smaller, more manageable components that are easier to secure.

5. Vulnerability Management

As it says on the tin, vulnerability management is an approach to ensure systems are updated, vulnerabilities are triaged and legacy equipment is managed securely. Regular patching is essential to close known security holes that could be exploited by attackers. But it’s not just about applying patches—it’s also about testing them thoroughly before deploying them into production environments. Be sure to have a solid process in place for patch management so that you can be confident in the security of your systems. 

6. Identity and Access Management

Without knowing who and what can access your data, you are leaving blind spots that could be an open invite for threat actors. Identity and access management (IAM) is a security control that helps organisations control user access to systems and data. IAM solutions provide a centralised location for managing user identities, permissions and access rights. They also provide features such as role-based access control (RBAC), single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) to further secure access to sensitive data and systems. 

7. Data Security

Know your data, where it is stored, how it is processed and consider relevant protections through a risk focussed approach. Identify what data is most valuable to your business and put appropriate controls in place to protect it. Establish governance around who can access this data and how it can be used. If you are collecting personal data from EU citizens, be sure to comply with GDPR requirements around consent, storage, retention, destruction, disclosure/breach notification etc. Consider implementing encryption at rest or in transit to protect data from being accessed by unauthorised individuals. And choose reliable cloud service providers who offer robust security features to host your data if you don’t have the resources to do it yourself. 

8. Logging and Monitoring

Logging events is a crucial first step in understanding which services or systems are in use within an organisation. This information can then be used to determine which areas are most vulnerable to attack. Security monitoring goes one step further by providing organisations with visibility into what is happening on their systems and whether or not the activity is usual or unusual. This allows organisations to quickly identify and respond to potential threats.

9. Incident Management

Security incidents can potentially jeopardise an organisation’s productivity, reputation and expenses. As such, it’s important to have a robust incident management plan in place to minimise the impact of any incidents that may occur. Here are three key steps to take in developing an effective incident management strategy:

  1. Increase your organisation’s capability to detect incidents. It is achieved through several technical measures (e.g. intrusion detection systems) and awareness-raising initiatives (e.g. security training for employees).
  2. Respond quickly and effectively to incidents. This includes having a clear understanding of what actions by whom in the event of an incident and having the necessary technical capabilities and protocols to contain and resolve the issue quickly.
  3. Reduce the impact of incidents through effective recovery planning. This entails putting measures in place ahead of time to ensure smooth business operations of critical araes in the event of an incident. For example, this may involve having redundant systems or data backups located off-site.

10. Supply Chain Security

As organisations become increasingly reliant on third-party suppliers, it’s important to follow a risk-based approach when it comes to managing supplier relationships. This includes identifying, analysing and regulating your suppliers about their cybersecurity posture. Additionally, be clear in communicating both your organisation’s and your suppliers’ commitments to data security and privacy. By taking these steps, you can help mitigate the risks posed by vulnerabilities within your supply chain.

Prevention is always better than cure, so make sure you have robust cyber security measures in place before you need them. Following the guidelines above increases odds against ever-evolving cyber threat landscape.

Where to start?

Highgate is here to help you – wherever you are in your cybersecurity journey. We can help you know your unknowns through a technical risk assessment, provide analysis and lead the risk remediation – whether it is people, process and/or technology solutions.

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