The escalating issue of cyber attacks is sounding alarms across organizations worldwide. A report sponsored by Apple and authored by MIT professor Stuart Madnick reveals a troubling uptick in ransomware incidents within the first nine months of 2023, surpassing the entire year of 2022. It’s not just the high-profile breaches grabbing headlines that are concerning; the more-frequent, less-notable attacks are also significantly lining hackers’ pockets. Understanding and applying cyber security best practices have become indispensable skills for every organization, big or small.
Keeping up with the ever-evolving cyber trends and threats can be overwhelming, especially for those outside the tech sphere. Many of your business clients might feel lost, pondering questions like “What is cyber security?” and “How do I even begin to tackle it?”
Let’s demystify the subject with 13 essential cyber security best practices to help your clients defend themselves against a cyber attack.
13 Critical Cyber Security Tips for Your Business Clients
As cyber criminals grow more sophisticated, outpacing their tactics to manipulate employees is increasingly challenging. To counter this problem, your clients must implement multiple cyber security measures. This approach is key for thwarting potential incidents and ensuring your clients are well-prepared to handle an attack. Encourage your clients to follow these crucial cyber security tips.
1. Keep Software Up-to-Date
Indeed, the frequent pop-ups and reminders on computers, tablets, and phones can be bothersome, yet they serve an important purpose. Your client should require their employees to perform software updates promptly as they become available. This step ensures systems are up-to-date and protected against the latest attack strategies.
2. Create a Culture of Continuing Education
Hackers excel in manipulation, often exploiting human emotions to access personal information. All employees must undergo cyber security training covering the latest threats, including phishing attacks, and how to recognize them effectively. Identifying an attack is the critical first step in preventing it.
3. Use a Secure Email Gateway and DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM)
Implementing best practices for cyber security is essential to protect business communications, particularly through email. A Secure Email Gateway (SEG) plays a critical role in this strategy by rigorously monitoring incoming and outgoing emails within an organization. It effectively filters out spam, blocks malicious attacks, and identifies fraudulent content, ensuring only legitimate emails reach employee inboxes.
To level up email security, your clients should use a trio of advanced protective measures: DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM), Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC), and Sender Policy Framework (SPF). These systems authenticate a business’s email server, bolstering defense mechanisms against potential compromises.
4. Utilize Strong Passwords
A strong password is a key defense against cyber threats. Mixing letters, numbers, and symbols makes it harder for hackers to gain access. It’s smart to use unique, strong passwords for each online account. Using the same password everywhere could give hackers a master key to your digital assets. To ensure passwords remain complex, strong, and unique without taxing your memory, your clients should utilize a password manager. This convenient tool generates and memorizes your passwords, safeguarding your online engagements.
5. Use Multifactor Authentication
Multifactor authentication (MFA) adds an extra layer of security for your clients, requiring users to present two or more forms of verification before accessing their online accounts. Beyond the standard username and password, MFA may ask for an additional password, a code from a smartphone app or token, or even biometric verification such as fingerprints or facial recognition.
For an affordable yet effective solution, your clients might explore Google Authenticator. It offers significant protection at a minimal cost, serving as a crucial safeguard against cyber crime.
6. Use Dual Authorization
Implementing dual authorization is a vital cyber security best practice that protects financial transactions. With dual authorization, two individuals must sign off or input their credentials to approve any submitted transaction. This measure significantly reduces the risk of fraudulent schemes, such as paying false invoices or inadvertently transferring funds to cyber criminals posing as legitimate entities.
Furthermore, clients should exercise caution after receiving suspicious emails. Rather than contacting the phone number on a questionable invoice, which could potentially connect them directly to the perpetrators, verifying the request’s legitimacy through independent means is best. Similarly, avoid responding to suspicious emails requesting payment confirmation to avoid providing hackers with sensitive information.
7. Secure Remote Desktop Protocol Ports
Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) is a Microsoft proprietary protocol that enables remote connections to other computers. In other words, it lets people control a computer from anywhere in the world. Hackers can exploit RDP ports to get into networks, so businesses should secure these open ports.
There are two simple steps that businesses can take to secure RDP ports:
- Prevent the exposure of their RDP servers to the internet by keeping them behind a firewall.
- Enable Network Level Authentication (NLA) to limit potential attackers to only those authenticated.
8. Proactively Back Up Data
Data loss significantly affects an organization’s operations. In the event of a cyber attack leading to data loss or unavailability, the company incurs not only the direct costs of the attack but also potential business interruption expenses. Regularly backing up crucial data is essential, as it greatly expedites recovery following a cyber attack.
9. Form a Breach Response Plan
Ensuring your clients are adequately prepared for a potential cyber attack involves clarifying each party’s role and responsibilities. By defining these details in advance, everyone can act swiftly and confidently in the event of an incident. Recommend devising a comprehensive, written plan outlining step-by-step procedures upon which all organization members have agreed. This proactive approach enhances readiness and reduces the impact of a breach.
10. Secure a Cyber Liability Insurance Policy
In 2023, the average cost of a business data breach amounted to $4.24 million. For small businesses that need more preparation, such substantial losses could result in bankruptcy. These expenses stem from various areas and services, such as:
- IT forensic costs
- Credit protection costs
- Crisis management costs
- Breach of contract claims
- Negligent protection of data claims
- PCI fines, penalties, and assessments
Offering your clients a comprehensive cyber liability policy is another best practice for cyber security. The policy covers all of the associated costs of a cyber attack.
11. Act Quickly with MDR Services
A fast response limits the hacker’s power during a cyber attack. One of the best ways to minimize your response time is to utilize managed detection and response (MDR) services. MDR services are a cost-effective way to provide 24/7 real-time cyber incident response and security consulting services.
In addition to MDR services, businesses should have a preset breach response plan. Have your clients organize a breach plan so they don’t
waste time mitigating the damage. A few breach plan meetings could save the business millions in damage.
12. Secure the Breach & Identify Compromised Data
For businesses, having an experienced IT forensics team is crucial to promptly identifying and remedying data breaches while ensuring data security. However, these essential services can pose a significant expense for companies lacking a Cyber Insurance policy, highlighting the importance of adhering to cyber security best practices.
13. Be Transparent with Customers
An organization that has suffered a breach must be transparent with its customers and the public about what sensitive information was accessed. This restores trust and avoids additional fines and penalties from regulators. Even though it is news nobody wants to deliver, hiding a data breach can make an already big problem even worse.
Offer Your Clients Comprehensive Cyber Insurance
Incorporating Cyber Insurance into cyber security best practices is one of the best ways your clients can protect their data. Cyber Liability Insurance shouldn’t just be an optional add-on but a crucial, stand-alone element of their policy framework. Whether they realize it or not, it’s a service your clients need.
ProWriters provides extensive Cyber Liability coverage, greatly minimizing cyber risks and protecting businesses in the event of a cyber attack. Enhance your sales approach and persuade your clients to embrace this policy with our latest FREE eBook, How to Sell Cyber: Big Claims in Ransomware & Social Engineering.