How can you reduce the risk of your next cyber security breach?

Read time 4 mins

UK businesses heavily rely on internet-connected devices to thrive in the modern world. But unfortunately, threat actors (a cyber security adversary interested in attacking IT systems) use this to their advantage, sharpening their tools and finding increasingly sophisticated ways to infiltrate our networks.

According to a recent government report, four in ten UK businesses reported a security breach or attack in the last 12 months. This figure is even higher for mid-size and large organisations, although no company is immune to cyber-attacks. Now, more than ever before, organisations need to be on high alert and deploy meaningful steps towards robust cyber security.

Investing in security monitoring tools and cyber intelligence

The UK government estimates that the risk level for cyber-attacks is higher today than in recent years due to one very concerning trend; fewer organisations are deploying security monitoring tools. Analysts believe the COVID-19 pandemic is a primary factor in this shift, with many organisations finding it harder to administer security measures during this time. Regardless of the reason, security monitoring tools play a critical role in modern cyber defence and failing to implement them leaves companies with a gap in their defensive lineup.

Organisations that want to protect themselves against the potentially irreparable financial and reputational harm caused by cyber-attacks should invest in robust security monitoring and cyber intelligence services. Security monitoring can be carried out at network and endpoint levels, with tools like Security Incident and Event Management Systems (SIEM), Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), and Endpoint Detection and Response systems (EDR).

Companies can take this further by opting for managed security services that utilise cross-industry threat intelligence. Access to comprehensive and up-to-date industry cyber intelligence allows businesses to safeguard their systems against previously unforeseen threats proactively. For example, a Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) service helps achieve these goals by offering advanced threat monitoring and remediation and an expansive view of the cyber threat landscape in the UK today.

Educating employees

An organisation’s people are the lifeblood of any thriving business, but sadly, they’re also a part of the cyber security threat. In UK businesses every day, people open emails from unknown senders, click on suspicious links or unknowingly give out sensitive information. And while there are many different types of cyber-attacks, and all need protection against them, phishing attacks are the most common. With this in mind, it’s vital that all employees, from CEOs to junior-ranking staff, know how to spot a phishing scam.

Education is especially important because research has shown that even when people are aware of the risks, they don’t always follow best practices. There’s a good reason for this. Phishing emails are carefully engineered and utilise various tactics to cause people to act against their best interests. For example, they often create a sense of urgency, so the recipient is more likely to act quickly rather than take the time to assess the email’s legitimacy. Another tactic involves redirecting the victim to a legitimate web page after carrying out the harmful action. For instance, a user might be redirected to the legitimate Microsoft 365 login page after entering their credentials on the malicious page. This tactic reduces the possibility of a user flagging the experience after the fact.

Any department and any employee, regardless of seniority, can be the target of a phishing attack. Additionally, any employee is capable of mishandling sensitive data. Therefore, the best way to protect your systems and your employees is comprehensive, engaging and frequent cyber awareness training; cyber security education must be ongoing to be effective.

Keeping your software, devices and systems up to date

Malicious actors often exploit known vulnerabilities in code to gain access to an organisation’s network. More often than not, these vulnerabilities have already been patched by the software provider, but companies haven’t got around to installing the patch.

A high-profile example of this is the WannaCry ransomware attack of 2017. The attack affected more than 200,000 computers across 150 countries, and estimates for financial damages range from the hundreds of millions to billions. Notably, the NHS was a victim of this attack in the UK.

Concerningly, Microsoft had released a security patch to protect against this exploit almost two months before the attack. Still, many organisations hadn’t prioritised installing the patch due to resources or lethargy.

Updating security policies

Staying up to date with current best practices and updating your security policies is vital to the foundation of keeping your organisation safe and secure. The cyber threat landscape continues to progress, and in response, leading cyber security bodies frequently update their advice around best practices. That said, staying up to date isn’t always easy, especially in a busy business environment. IT managed services providers can help here. They have highly skilled and experienced staff who prioritise keeping up to date with the latest practices.

Deploying robust endpoint protection

Endpoint protection ensures that devices are safeguarded from attacks. Any device, for example, smartphones, laptops and tablets, that connect to the corporate network can be an access path for an attacker. Leveraging next-generation endpoint protection services can support the detection of zero-day attacks and save companies considerable time responding to incidents and re-imaging devices.

Don’t become a statistic

Data breaches happen every day, but that doesn’t mean they are inevitable for your company. If you want to avoid becoming part of the statistics, Littelfish can help reduce your cyber risk by offering managed cyber security services to help secure your networks, bridge knowledge gaps and educate your people.

If you would like to discuss our cyber security services and how we can help your organisation be cyber-prepared, feel free to get in touch through our contact form.
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