The Significance of Cybersecurity in the New Normal
It is not news that the pandemic has altered the way businesses function and expedited digital transformation. The first lockdown phase led to an unprecedented surge in remote working or work-from-home culture, which has since become the new normal in many enterprises.
The Case for Cybersecurity
The remote working culture led to employees connecting their personal computers into the company server with limited end-point security, exposing them to higher cyber security risks.
Cyber attackers have taken advantage of vulnerabilities caused due to the requirement of employees working from home and increased their activities. Data suggests that nearly half a million people faced data breaches during video conferencing meetings.
Implementing better cybersecurity strategies for the evolving yet vulnerable IT landscape has become the need of the hour. Companies have no choice but to address increasing cyber-attacks.
How can companies bolster their security posture?
Here are a few basic measures that enterprises can take to improve the cybersecurity of employees working from home:
- Audit the existing security infrastructure
Even with the best of security measures, any IT system can have weaknesses. Enterprises may employ vulnerability scanning and penetration testing on their existing security systems to identify loose ends, prioritize the vulnerabilities, and fix them in a time-bound manner.
- Offer antivirus protection by default
We may think that Antivirus is a fading security mechanism, but it helps us protect against conventional/known threats. Companies can offer antivirus software to their employees regardless of whether they use a personal computer or the one provided by the organization. Although this is not a foolproof way to secure all data in a computer, it helps eliminate many low-level attacks on the system.
- Provide VPN
Virtual Private Network (VPN) adds a layer of security to systems that operate remotely. It is a fundamental cybersecurity strategy for any enterprise. However, it is not recommended to rely on VPNs alone to prevent cyber-attacks, but they can be deployed as the first wall of defense against threats.
- Create awareness
More often, cybercrimes take place without the knowledge of the victim. Companies can educate staff during onboarding with a dedicated session on cyber threats, phishing, and the need for cybersecurity to equip them with adequate knowledge and help maintain cyber hygiene while working remotely. Such sessions/workshops, conducted regularly, help keep enterprises up to date with the latest data protection practices. If in-person sessions are not feasible, companies can leverage virtual sessions and computer-based training.
- Conduct practical phishing simulations
Companies can test the level of cyber awareness among employees by sending random messages or emails that ask for sensitive company information. It can help monitor how employees react to the situation. Consistently rating the team’s performance will help improve their cyber-awareness.
- Upgrade security standards
Organizations should ask employees to keep their home network security tight by creating a complex Wi-Fi password with appropriate authentication mechanisms like WPA2/3 and industry-standard encryption like AES256. Companies can also set up two-factor or multi-factor authentication to ensure that employees and their data are safe from cyber threats. Implementation of next-generation breach detection tools can also prevent attacks. The earlier the organization’s security staff gets the information about the threat actor, the faster they can respond.
- Review security infrastructure frequently
Organizations should conduct frequent cyber risk evaluations and constantly assess the robustness/hardening of existing protocols/tools. New forms of cyber threats can be detected and eliminated with the help of end-point detection and response and context-aware behavioral analytics tools.
Enterprises that deal with sensitive data and information can enhance their cybersecurity with these advanced cybersecurity practices:
- Enable new technology and security tools
Organizations should continuously scan the threat landscape for any new threats or attacks and regularly upgrade/update the security systems. Companies can make use of sophisticated tools such as host checking to augment the security of remote workspaces. They can even experiment with Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning to tackle cyber crimes.
- Risk management
Governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) solutions assist organizations with risk management. Companies can prepare themselves for potential cyber-attacks by administering regular cyber crisis simulation drills. These systems provide a comprehensive view of the company’s risk vulnerabilities and how to manage them better.
- Employ zero-trust model/policies
Zero-trust is a security model/concept where only authorized and authenticated personnel or devices can access sensitive applications and data. Zero-trust doesn’t mean organizations don’t trust anybody, but it ensures proper sanitization via tools before providing access. By following a strict zero-trust policy, companies can further guard data and information against unauthorized intruders.
Today, the role of a Chief Security Officer has shifted from a reactive one to a more proactive one. A security team must foresee security shortcomings and take steady measures to improve the cyber security system.
A sound security strategy regularly reviewed and aligned with business risk alongside regulatory compliances is key to the smooth functioning of any organization.
Kuljit Singh Hooda is vice president and CISO at Xceedance