5 cybersecurity mistakes you might already be doing

As cybersecurity experts we understand that in an ever-changing cyber-threat landscape, keeping your security posture in optimal operational state can be a daunting task.

With our vast experience in the cybersecurity field, we have pinpointed certain persistent cybersecurity mistakes that keep reoccurring time and time again. Here’s what you should do:

 

1. Weak passwords

Surprisingly enough, weak passwords are still one of the greatest vulnerabilities posing serious threat to your cybersecurity. A large number of employees tend to use simplistic easy-to-guess passwords such as ‘password1’, ‘qwerty’, ‘abcdefg’ or ‘987654321’, which are the first that any aspiring intruder tries. However, a brute force attack may easily be successful if a password is too short, or if it only contains lowercase letters, disregarding numbers and special characters. The longer the password, and the more types of digits it uses, the harder it is for intruders to discover. Remember, for each digit added to your password, breaking it becomes exponentially harder, so keep your passwords long and complicated. Also, it’s a good idea to use different passwords for each service, and also to change them frequently, because you never know who might have intercepted your credentials in the past, one way or the other.

2. No staff awareness of social engineering

Despite the cyber secure culture that is being promoted over the last few years, the human factor remains the greatest vulnerability to information security. Email phishing tactics still deceive staff into thinking that they should click on a link or open a specific file. No matter how convincing they look, and even if they greet you by name and come from a known domain name, you should always be skeptical of any message that requires you to immediately perform a certain action, especially clicking on a link or downloading a file. A good measure to apply is to verify the validity of the message by calling the sender to make sure it was them who actually sent it, and what the link or file does. Get to know your colleagues and associates, as well as the inner workings of your organization. If you can identify their normal lingo and way of working, you can more easily spot something suspicious. Lastly, be extra wary of any message that appeals to your emotions, especially urgency, threat or excitement. Many phishing scams use psychological techniques to make you act a certain way without thinking first, because they present you with an ultimatum: either act now or miss out on something! Be thoughtful and always take your time when reading through your messages. Real messages shouldn’t stress you!

3. Inadequate network and systems administration

Hardware come with factory default settings that, if kept as they are, make it extremely easy for cybercriminals to exploit and breach your networks. This is because these factory settings are already known to the public, and so a cybercriminal could easily exploit them. The truth is that security devices require ongoing and tailored configuration and maintenance if they are to be of real value to your cybersecurity needs. For example, configurations include constantly refreshed correlation rules, custom security policies, stringent authentication protocols, data encryption, etc. If you don’t possess the knowhow to address these needs, perhaps it’s time you outsourced to a reliable and tested Managed Security / Managed Detection & Response (MDR) Services Provider.

4. Not updating

Some people still insist on delaying updating, or not updating at all, their personal devices, even when they receive notifications of available new updates for their operating system, antivirus, or other applications. Each application could be a unique potential doorway for wannabe intruders. The reason why updating software as soon as possible is crucial for staying cyber secure is because when vendors publish those updates they also list which bugs or errors were fixed. This is a dead giveaway of the vulnerabilities of the previous versions, which may prompt cybercriminals to exploit them quickly before you’ve had a chance to update. So let’s keep ‘automatic updates’ on on our personal devices and give priority to updates when we are prompted to undergo one. Staying cyber secure should take precedence.

5. Using only signature-based antivirus

Many investments are made in antivirus technology, which is good for detecting known threats. However, it does not detect unknown advanced 0-day exploits. This is because antivirus works with a signature-based approach where each malicious software has already been discovered, identified and acknowledged by the antivirus vendor, a process which may take months to be completed. This means that new threats can go undetected for months and months. Solely relying on antivirus is not the best strategy for mitigating your organization’s cyber risk, and you should combine antivirus with Advanced Security Analytics, Managed Detection & Response (MDR) as well as Next-Generation Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) for a more holistic and comprehensive approach to cybersecurity. With such a toolbox at your fingertips you are empowered with Advanced Security Analytics and the ability to discover suspicious/malicious behavior previously unseen. This results in a significantly reduced Mean Time To Respond (MTTR), further mitigating your organization’s cyber risk.

Don’t be outsmarted by cybercriminals!

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