It is no exaggeration to compare cybersecurity to a never-ending war. Just as hackers are always working to find new exploits, cybersecurity people are always attempting to fix those weaknesses. The result is a back-and-forth struggle that will probably never end. Unfortunately, a lot of unfortunate businesses are caught in the middle of that conflict, and that is because they present the most lucrative targets. Because a business stands to lose so much from just one data breach, we would like to give you some advice on winning the cybersecurity war.
1. Hire A Penetration Tester
There are many methods of cyber-attack, and the average person would never think of them all. Likewise, a normal cybersecurity worker is unlikely to be intimately familiar with hacking methods. That is the case because these people look at cybersecurity from a purely defensive viewpoint. However, if you really need to see how secure your system is (or isn’t), you need the services of someone who can think like a hacker.
Penetration testers are basically “good guy” hackers that are paid to test existing systems. The idea is to let them find the holes in your security, as opposed to waiting for the bad guys to find that weakness. Of course, you should take great care when selecting a penetration tester, and all their actions should be monitored as a precaution.
2. Concentrate On Accountability
One of the reasons that cyber-attackers have become so prolific is the fact that they usually get away with their crimes. Even if the attack fails, it often isn’t possible to trace things back to the perpetrators. Thus, they are free to try again. Without consequences for these actions, it is inevitable that they will happen again.
Your IT/cybersecurity people should be working to prevent a cyber-attack, but they should also be ready to respond in the event of one. That means capturing and securing any data that could later be used to identify the attacker. You have to be very careful that you don’t allow the criminals to cover their tracks. For instance, automatic backup of log files can do a lot of good since hackers will often attempt to wipe these. This also relates to the next section.
3. Employ Intelligent Network Monitoring
Some cybersecurity authors make things look a lot bleaker than they really are. Although it isn’t easy, it is possible to prevent most cyber-attacks through diligence and preparation. One of the most effective ways to do this is through the use of intelligent network monitoring. Tools like Nmap and Wireshark can “see” every bit of data that goes across the network in real-time. As long as you have a way to recognize suspicious activity quickly, it should make you much better prepared.
Of course, it does mean having an expert pair of eyes on that screen at all times. This isn’t really an easy thing, so many people and companies are turning to AI-enhanced network monitoring. Sure, it isn’t as good as a pair of educated eyes, but they make a good substitute during those downtime hours. Many times, hackers will try to penetrate the system after normal business hours when people aren’t watching. 24/7 monitoring may seem excessive, but it’s one of the surest ways to stay safe.
4. Maintain Offline Backups
We could write many pages about the importance of data backups, but that is not our object here. Anyone who knows anything about cybersecurity understands that your data is not safe unless you have (at least) one valid backup. However, a lot of people underestimate the importance of offline backups.
When we say “offline,” we mean that the most crucial/sensitive files should be stored on a device that is not capable of accessing the internet. There are all kinds of ways that connections can be hijacked, so it isn’t enough for the computer to simply remain unconnected. It should indeed be physically incapable of accessing the internet. Removing the network card is probably the easiest way to do this.
To be honest, this doesn’t remove the possibility of physical-access hacking, but that kind of thing requires the attacker to be physically present. In most cases, they will not want to subject themselves to that kind of risk, especially when they know there are softer targets out there.
5. Don’t Hesitate To Use Encryption
We have talked about this before, but it warrants a little more attention. Encryption is one of the best cybersecurity tools out there and has proven to be very effective when used properly. Although hackers have found ways to get around encryption, they have not yet found ways to get through most of them. “Brute force” hacking (where they directly jack your password) is only possible when weak passwords are used, and social engineering methods are dependent on the mistakes of their potential victim. Thus, these “workarounds” will only work if you fail to close those vital security gaps.
A VPN is probably the easiest way to deploy encryption on your network, and it tends to be both easy and cheap. It’s a great way to keep unauthorized people off your network. The use of HTTPS encryption, which many web browsers automatically use, can be maximized with the use of a browser add-on called “HTTPS Everywhere.” Your offline servers should be protected with full-disk encryption and a highly complex password. You can even encrypt the connection to your DNS if you really want to go all-out on this concept.
At PCH Technologies, we understand that any war requires good intelligence gathering. That means staying updated on all the latest threats and receiving all the latest updates and patches (among other things). Admittedly, it is a big job, and not everyone has the capacity to get it done. That’s why you might want to consider calling us at (856) 754-7500. Thank you for reading, and we hope to hear from you soon.