Written by Mohamad Rizk, Regional Director, Middle East and CIS at Veeam Software
According to recent research, more than 85% of companies have been the victim of a ransomware attack in the past year. It’s not a question of whether you’ve been attacked or when you’ll be attacked, but how often you’ll be attacked. While there is no way to guarantee you will never be attacked, you can take some simple steps to make it more difficult for the attackers to succeed and keep your business running. Start with the basics. Make sure your PCs and servers are all up to date and patched. Make sure you have up-to-date virus and malware checks in place. Then, embrace good practices and educate others across your team.
Tip #1 – Be skeptical
If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Know the warning signs for phishing, social engineering, and other scams, and err on the side of caution. Don’t click on unknown links, open unexpected or suspicious attachments or provide information to someone you don’t know or weren’t expecting to hear from.
Tip #2 – Use Strong Passwords and Passphrases
Longer is stronger. Leverage passphrases to help create long passwords that are easy to remember, but hard for others to guess.
Tip #3 – Slow down
Slow down and avoid making simple mistakes. Be cautious of auto-completion in emails so you don’t send sensitive information to the wrong person. Don’t accidentally ‘reply all’ when you only intended to send information to one person on the thread.
Tip #4 – Beware of Malware
Viruses, computer worms, and Trojans can hide in legitimate-looking websites, free software packages online, and phishing emails. Ensure you have an anti-malware program enabled and kept updated.
Tip #5 – Stay Secure on the Go
Security doesn’t stop just when you leave the office. Be aware of your surroundings. Don’t talk about sensitive information, like banking details or medical information, in a location where others can hear you. Keep your device screens hard for others to see – consider a privacy screen when possible. Use an external battery pack rather than public charging ports to protect against ‘juice jacking.’
Tip #6 – Know Your Data. Protect It.
You cannot protect your most sensitive information if you don’t know what information you have. Inventory your organization’s information. Classify it based on its sensitivity level. Protect the information according to that sensitivity level.
Tip #7 – Limit Access
You may hire the most trustworthy people to work for you, but that doesn’t mean they all need access to your most sensitive information. Provide access on a need-to-know basis. This helps protect confidentiality but also reduces the impact if someone’s access is compromised. Use multi-factor authentication when given the option to minimize the damage that can be caused if someone steals your passwords.
Tip #8 – Stay Secure Online
If you understand that the internet contains scams and threats around most corners, then you can help to spot when something doesn’t seem right and steer clear. Use and require secure networks – if the WiFi you are using is not encrypted, ensure you are using a VPN or other layer of protection. Leverage bookmarks for important URLs so you’re less likely to fall for fake dupes of the real ones. Avoid oversharing on social media and assume that anything posted is public, regardless of privacy settings.
Tip #9 – Be Security Aware. Report.
Even with all the best intentions, sometimes cybercriminals will win a battle. It is important that your organization has a defined incident reporting and response plan so that your security team is promptly notified if there is a risk of compromise. The sooner your team knows about it, the sooner they can protect against it. Communicate your preferred method of incident reporting frequently so your employees have no doubt about how to contact you.
Tip #10 – If You Can Connect It, Protect It.
As the perimeter of your business infrastructure becomes blurred with cloud services and personal devices being used for work (BYOD), you need to ensure your corporate policies are inclusive to require that any device used for work that can connect to the internet is required to be protected. This may be anti-malware software, strong passwords, or access controls. Each device will require something different, but a general rule of thumb is that if you can connect it, protect it.
Tip #11 – Back up Your Data
You can have a best-in-class security program and still find yourself in a situation where your data can no longer be accessed or trusted. Regularly backing up your data in 3 different locations on 2 different media with 1 copy being offsite, 1 copy being offline, air-gapped, or immutable, and 0 errors with recovery verification, allows you to quickly restore your data with minimal downtime and keep your business running.
Tip #12 – Train Your Users // Be a Security Learner
Cybercriminals are constantly changing their tactics as they learn about what protections are being put in place. Your organization’s people can either be your weakest link or your greatest asset. Put emphasis in teaching your people about how they can be part of your human firewall, and they can become an extension of your security team.