The Foundation of a Solid Cybersecurity Program
As businesses continue to digitize their operations, the complexity of cybersecurity has grown drastically. Remote work, in particular, has expanded the attack surface, and the rapid development of AI and machine learning has provided cyber criminals with more sophisticated ways of bypassing security measures. On top of that, businesses have more assets to manage than ever while the number of cyber vulnerabilities have increased even more (up 133% and 589% respectively from 2022 to 2023).
However, while it might seem that cybersecurity measures have evolved by equal measure in order to keep pace, the basic foundations of a solid cybersecurity program remain intact and vital. Cornerstones like two-factor authentication, password management, and regular software updates still provide businesses with the base-layer of security they need to face the challenges ahead.
The Cornerstones of Robust Cybersecurity Programs
Secure Passwords and Password Management
Secure passwords are the first line of defense in a robust cybersecurity program. They are the initial barrier that restricts access to sensitive accounts, systems, and data. Unfortunately, passwords can also be the weakest link in the cybersecurity chain. Overly simple passwords, reuse, predictable patterns, and limited length all create password vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Even moderately strong passwords are becoming more vulnerable to the advanced techniques and tools attackers use to crack them.
Creating passwords that are long, complex and unique, and enforcing company-wide password policies can help fortify your organization’s security. Additionally, password managers and multi-factor authentication (MFA) are essential when it comes to minimizing unauthorized access, preventing credential theft, and protecting critical systems.
Two-factor authentication (2FA) has emerged as one of the most fundamental defense mechanisms. Designed to provide an extra layer of security beyond usernames and passwords, 2FA significantly strengthens security by preventing unauthorized access, blocking transactions, and making remote access more secure.
Implementation of 2FA involves a two-pronged approach: something the user knows (such as a username and password) and something the user possesses (a physical token, device, or biometric data like fingerprints). In practice, this might involve a variety of methods, including SMS or email codes, authentication apps, biometrics, hardware tokens, and push notifications. 2FA is an invaluable cornerstone for cybersecurity because it shores up account security and provides a safety net in the event that a password is compromised.
Regular Software Updates
Almost everyone is familiar with regular software updates, but it can be easy to overlook them as a fundamental part of your cybersecurity approach. Software updates (sometimes called patches) are critical for maintaining the functionality of software applications and systems. These updates often include fixes for known vulnerabilities, bugs, crashes, compatibility issues, and anything else that might interfere with your system’s efficiency.
Establishing clear policies regarding automated updates and applying updates promptly to mitigate risks associated with the vulnerability window are some basic best practices that businesses can implement. Beyond updates, organizations can also utilize network segmentation, firewalls, and access controls to further restrict potential points of entry.
Recognizing and Reporting Phishing Attempts
The final cornerstone of a healthy cybersecurity approach involves recognizing and reporting phishing attempts. Phishing attempts are deceptive efforts by cybercriminals to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, credit card information, or personal data. When successful, phishing attacks can be devastating, leading to your entire network being compromised at various levels.
Early detection, raised awareness, and robust incident response procedures are the minimum security measures that should be in place to prevent or mitigate phishing attacks. Teaching every member of your organization how to recognize and report is also essential, and can help you mitigate data breaches, protect personal and financial data, and prevent unauthorized access.
Beyond the Basics
With those cornerstones in place, there is still no denying that the threat landscape evolves almost every day. With zero-day vulnerabilities, more intricate ransomware, and other emerging threats like cloud vulnerabilities and state-sponsored attacks, it’s more important now than ever for organizations to have cybersecurity measures they can rely on. And that means staying ahead of the threats.
AI and machine learning are two tools that cybersecurity experts use to help support the foundational aspects of cybersecurity. With capabilities like behavioral analytics and threat intelligence sharing, cybersecurity professionals can provide proactive security solutions that focus on preventing breaches rather than dealing with the aftermath.
It’s also important to find a balance between security and usability within your organization. User experience should be taken into account, as your human employees are an essential factor in your cybersecurity. Security in the age of remote work and increasing privacy concerns also present unique challenges that require a more tailored approach.
Bringing It Together: The Synergy of a Cybersecurity Program
At the end of the day, a robust cybersecurity program requires a holistic approach. The four cornerstones listed above form the basic foundation and all of them work together to mitigate data breaches, prevent unauthorized access, and enhance the overall security of your operations. Beyond that, however, it’s essential to build a company culture that is centered around security awareness. Making sure all of your employees are on board with your policies and procedures is one of the best defenses you can have against cyber attacks.
But in order to have a cybersecurity strategy that fully integrates the four cornerstones with more advanced, tailored solutions, you’ll want to consider investing in a cybersecurity professional. Whether in-house or out-sourced, cybersecurity experts are the ones that take the various pieces of a security framework and build it into a cohesive whole.
Build an Unshakeable Cybersecurity Program with Inversion6
Even as cyber threats and cybersecurity both continue to evolve, the endurance of basic cybersecurity practices cannot be understated. It’s important to make sure both are taken into consideration in your cybersecurity program.
At Inversion6, we provide managed cybersecurity services that are tailored to your specific needs, including fractional CISO services, managed detection & response (MDR) services, and a security operations center (SOC) for 24/7 protection. Our team of seasoned experts can work with you to create a cybersecurity solution that integrates seamlessly into your organization.
Connect with our team today to get started.