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How to Prevent Being Targeted by Hackers

Are hackers looking at your business? Here it is. All the juicy details you need to know to prevent your business from cyber attacks and how to mitigate a breach. We’ve come to the finale of our cybersecurity series and thought it’d only be fitting to give you the insider details on how to best defend yourself and develop contingency plans in the event of cyber mishaps.

Previously, we covered Cyberattacks: Different Types of Security Attacks, Are you at risk of being a Cybersecurity Target?, and Compromised Data – What Do Cyberattackers Do With it? – so have a read first to bone up on these topics if you haven’t already done so.

Everyone is at risk of being a target of hackers and accidental breaches, so cybersecurity is everyone’s business.

How to prevent being hacked

Hackers access your systems through malicious scripts, malware, and other sneaky inroads that are usually well hidden, designed to trick the average human being. As we noted in our first post, malware is the number one attack vector, often spread by seemingly legitimate emails.

The best way to prevent being hacked is a layered security approach, which not only deals with tools and technologies, but also with people and processes, too.

Processes

Start with a strategy and framework

Before you start buying up cybersecurity tools like a anti-hacker beast, take a step back. Now is the time to develop a cybersecurity strategy. Your cybersecurity strategy needs to address your assets, your risks, and your current cybersecurity position. It also needs to look to the near future.

Have a strategy? Now it’s time to create a cybersecurity framework that fits your strategy and your business. There are plenty of cybersecurity frameworks that you can use as a basis to develop your own, such as NIST. This article from TechRepublic provides a good starting point to find out which framework will work best for you.  

Your framework should include an incident response plan – so you’re not running around like a chicken with its head cut off if something were to happen.

People

The number one step to fortifying your defences against hackers when it comes to personnel is training and education. How else will your reception staff know to scrutinise incoming emails to see if they’re from who they think they’re from? Should you use that free USB you got at the conference in your work computers (hint: no)?

Training and education means meetings and/or training packages and other learning activities, cyber-awareness updates such as through email blasts or intranet, and even informal chats if necessary. Make sure that your staff are versed in disseminating cybersecurity incidents, too! If there is a close call, or even an attack, this should be known to the whole team – so everyone else can avoid something similar in the future.

Technology

There are a plethora of tech solutions available to help address cybersecurity. These include:

  • Firewall
  • Anti-virus
  • Email fortification
  • Network traffic analysis
  • VPN
  • Network access control
  • Application security (or careful vetting of apps)
  • Data loss prevention systems (e.g. no auto-forwarding)

Don’t forget that your solutions need documentation, plus data collection and analysis – not only for noticing and catching anomalies, but for tracing incidents back to where they began.

How to mitigate a breach

Discovered a breach? Don’t panic.

Even if you don’t have a cybersecurity framework in place that points you to the steps you need to run through yet, you can contain this as much as possible now by following these steps.

Isolate the breached system

This means taking the system offline if necessary, or putting careful monitoring in place to determine access.

Change security access controls

Time to update all passwords, enable multi-factor authentication, or lock credentials to everyone except those most relevant in the incident. Imagine you are on lockdown in a jail. You want to make sure nothing more accidentally slips out.

Determine the impact of the breach

Is this a code red breach – all your customers’ credit card details were stolen – or just an accidental spill for an hour, where your Amazon S3 configuration for storage of some new building blueprints was wrong? Determining the level of impact of the breach will determine how many resources you need behind you in the coming steps.

Inform relevant parties

What are your responsibilities in the event of a data breach? If your customers’ data is breached, it may be your legal obligation to inform them, as per the GDPR or Australian Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme. If it is company data, you may need to inform relevant departments, shareholders, or the public. Mismanaged notification of breaches can do a lot of damage to your company’s reputation, and even result in fines, depending on what data was exposed.

Investigate the root cause

How did the breach happen? Hopefully you will have some monitoring/logging systems in place to determine how the breach occurred, or be able to determine a configuration mishap in the event of an accidental breach.

Fix the problem

Now that you know or have an idea of what happened, you have the opportunity to fix the problem so that it doesn’t happen again.

Take lessons learned and bake them into your cybersecurity framework plan

Don’t let this happen again! Documenting the incident and response, then building in new controls into your systems will help prevent a similar incident from occurring.

There’s a lot to manage when it comes to cybersecurity

Whether you are a small business, mid-sized organisation, or large enterprise, there is a lot to manage when it comes to cybersecurity – which can seem overwhelming, even with a cyber defence strategy and team in place.

This is one of the main reasons that many businesses choose to partner with cybersecurity professionals to help develop and maintain up to date security controls and analysis solutions. 

If you are looking for a helping hand with your business’s cybersecurity strategy, tech stack, training solutions, or a full cybersecurity analysis, then look to A1 Technologies. We can reduce your cybersecurity risk while ensuring your systems are up to date with defending against the latest threats. Ask us for more info!

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