Cybercrime has become more advanced, more ambitious, and more persistent than ever in the past year. It’s a lucrative source of income for fraudsters, and there is no sign of it abating as we enter the new year.
It’s predicted that a business will fall victim to a ransomware attack every 11 seconds in 2021. The surge is due in large part to the pandemic-driven transition to a remote workforce and hurried operational changes that create gaps in IT security systems.
Securing your remote workforce should be the top IT priority going into the new year. In this article, we’ll go through the top cybersecurity tips for 2021.
Secure Remote Access
Remote network access technologies enable users to access important company resources, such as phone call monitoring software, from a home PC using an internet connection. However, these technologies have known vulnerabilities that hackers exploit to gain network access.
Ensure a virtual private network (VPN) is always used when anyone connects to the company network remotely. A VPN creates a secure tunnel between the remote device and your company’s network. VPN access needs to be limited to authorized devices only so that access attempts by a threat actor can be spotted and denied.
For an extra layer of security, require multi-factor authentication (MFA) to access the VPN. MFA is a process of verifying identity by using at least two pieces of independent evidence or factors, such as a password, security question, or personal identification number. Requiring MFA is especially important for remote connections.
Segment Your Network
Network segmentation is the process of dividing your network into sections. These subnetworks, or subnets, are created by separating parts of your network which don’t need to communicate with each other. Structuring your network in this way gives you complete control over the flow of traffic between subnets.
Segmentation improves your cybersecurity for 2021 by enabling you to contain threats. A segmented network can be compared to the structure of a boat; it is compartmentalized so that only one section of the boat will flood in the event of a puncture or crash.
Similarly, in the event of a cyberattack, the infection will be contained within the targeted subnet and won’t propagate throughout your organization.
This is especially useful if you use cloud-hosted applications such as a hosted predictive dialer. Cloud servers can be prone to attacks so the threat must be contained before your entire network is compromised.
Additionally, a segmented network provides stronger data protection. It fences off your data stores so that the number of subnets that can access them is limited. This reduced access to your data means there are fewer entry points for hackers to steal sensitive information.
73% of customers are increasingly worried about personal data privacy. If you run an online store, for example, a major selling point in your e-commerce brand communication can be the strong data security you provide.
Unified Endpoint Management (UEM)
Of all the cybersecurity tips for 2021, implementing a unified endpoint management system is perhaps the most important for a dispersed and remote workforce.
In the same way that project management tools provide an overview and support structure for your projects, UEM tools provide you with an overview and support structure for your network. UEM allows administrators to secure, manage, and provision mobile devices, desktops, laptops, and tablets through one single interface.
When UEM tools detect suspicious activity such as unusual data download patterns or the unexpected installation of a firmware update, the endpoint can be automatically quarantined, locked, or wiped.
UEM tools also enable you to restrict certain actions such as file transfers and opening certain content on unmanaged devices. For example, a remote employee would only be able to open documents that contain clients’ personal information on their work laptop. They also would not be able to transfer these documents to a personal device.
Email is by far the most common delivery mechanism for ransomware, malicious attachments, malicious URLs, viruses, and phishing attacks. For instance, a cybercriminal could send their victim a link to a fake e-commerce checkout page where their personal information and credit card details will be stolen.
Email filtering solutions block these types of harmful incoming content before it reaches the end-user.
Using DNS filtering is also recommended. This blocks access to malicious domains, IP addresses, or cloud applications before a connection is ever established. Many email services provide these filtering solutions with additional benefits such as end-to-end encryption and easy CRM integration.
The attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” means that many updates do not get deployed on company networks and devices. This is done to avoid the inconvenience of scheduling as well as possible incompatibility issues. In other words, it creates more work.
However, this can be a very costly decision, especially when scaling a business and increasing the size of your network. Keeping operating systems and applications up to date is one of the best ways to protect them from being hacked.
Cybercriminals seek out vulnerabilities in your systems, such as your data quality software, and exploit them to access sensitive company data. Installing the recommended patches, updates, and upgrades helps fix vulnerabilities and keeps devices secure.
Social Media Awareness
The above cybersecurity tips for 2021 will keep you one step ahead of many of the threats you will face. However, none of them can prevent employees from being manipulated by threat actors.
Social engineering has grown proportionally with the rising use of social media sites, especially during the pandemic. Cybercriminals can take public information and use it to create targeted phishing emails containing malware. Attackers have also used chatbot apps to spread malicious URLs and steal information by using social engineering techniques.
They can also directly target your company by posing as a customer and sending you unsafe links or files through customer support on social media. Employees should be adequately trained and made aware of these potential pitfalls. Cybint training effectively changes user behavior to reduce such cyber risks.