One pill that’s hard to swallow among businesses and organizations is that cyber security risks are here to stay. In fact, they will likely get more sophisticated. And unless you implement proper measures, such as cyber security monitoring services, to prevent potential cyber breaches beforehand, your business remains at great risk of all sorts of attacks.
The recent cyber security statistics are overwhelmingly alarming, considering that they point more concerns towards small and mid-size companies, which are the backbone of our economy. As such, the only hope of keeping such malicious acts as ransomware, malware, and business email compromise at bay is to invest in airtight cyber security monitoring services.
But what does it take to confidently state that you’ve made massive progress in heightening your Los Angeles business security posture? In this two-part comprehensive guide, we’ll discuss:
- Five essential steps to assess your security network and detect a threat before it becomes an incident
- Four common cyber security threats facing businesses and how to prevent them
We’ll also answer a few questions we believe will be atop your mind after reading this post. Let’s get started!
5 Essential Steps to Assess Your Security Network and Detect Threats
1. Identify and Document All Potential Threats
You can’t monitor or prevent what you don’t know, right? So the first step is to conduct a comprehensive network and systems assessment to note the types of vulnerabilities your business faces, plus all the corners and loopholes those attacks can emerge from. This helps in prioritizing the IT security services needed to protect against different threat levels. Also, you can use the data to collaborate with your IT security services provider and create an unbeatable strategy for preventing cyber-attacks.
Conducting an all-inclusive assessment to smoke out potential threats also enables you to consider some information assets that you might be overlooking. Yet, they bear significant vulnerability. A critical point to remember is that cyber threats aren’t restricted to your organization’s walls. Risks reside virtually anywhere, and cybercriminals may attack as your partners or employees access and share business information using their devices and cloud-based technology. So you must think outside your premises.
2. Proactively Assess Your Cyber Risk
Does your business have an internal and external cyber threat intelligence (CTI) plan to detect and mitigate risks rapidly? In case you’re wondering, CTI leverages processes, people, and technology to proactively collect, analyze, and distribute intelligence within and without your business to improve your security posture. The motivation is to eliminate or reduce the likelihood of a cyber risk occurrence in your industry.
Externally, CTI helps organizations and their employees get smart on where, how, when, and why cyber-attacks are happening. Having this information enables you to implement business strategies to seal all the loopholes within your organization before falling prey to hackers and data thieves. Plus, pass the same knowledge among the firms with whom you share data for business purposes.
On the flip side, internal CTI can help you keep track of all data access activities regarding who, when, why, and how. In the long run, this improves the overall security posture. You have firsthand information on what’s happening in your organization in real-time.
3. Prioritize Security Awareness
Is every department within your firm aware of the threats, risks, and challenges you’re looking to overcome through cyber security monitoring services? If the answer is NO, then your priority at this stage should be to change your employees’ security culture and behavior.
Security awareness involves ensuring that each participant understands what risks are at stake, what you expect of them, and what roles they need to play. Most workers have this mindset that cyber threats are IT departments’ problems. Hence, not their concern. Well, change that culture and make them understand that cybersecurity is a people problem. Their input is just as critical as that of the IT security services unit.
Some of the tactics to get every participant onboard include:
- Partner with a top cyber security services company in Los Angeles. Develop and provide security awareness training programs.
- Make a sincere effort to explain the security challenges your organization faces.
- Develop and implement strict security rules and best practices in line with the compliance standards.
- Approach security awareness in a more interactive and ongoing manner to engage your IT security services partners and employees. This makes threats seem more concrete.
4. Prepare for the Inevitable
Strange as it may sound, the only way to overcome a cyber threat is to treat it as an eventuality and not a possibility. It’s not the IF that matters, but the WHEN! Embracing that fact helps your organization develop an actionable plan of how you’ll react to put everything under control should the inevitable attack happen.
Below are a few questions you should seek answers for as part of your cyber security monitoring services to prepare for attacks.
- Do you have a cyber security services company you can consult during and after an attack?
- Which third parties and stakeholders do you need to contact and engage?
- Which external users and clients do you need to alert? What should you tell them, and how?
- How about engaging the compliance regulators?
- How quickly can you respond to a security breach and restore normal operations within your organization?
Seeking answers to these questions helps your business craft a clear-cut road map for bouncing back should the worst happen. However, that’s just half the task. The next and, perhaps most critical, part is testing your preparedness based on the answers provided. That’s where cyber simulations come in handy. Simply put, these are interactive techniques that put participants under simulated attacks to gauge their response to cyber threats.
5. Make Cyber Security Monitoring a Continuous Process
You may have the most airtight cyber security management program, but without continuous monitoring, everything cancels out. Cybercriminals are becoming more innovative and expanding their scope by the day, and so should you. As we mentioned in step 2, you should continually leverage CTI to collect and analyze security events across your industry, IT security infrastructure, network, systems, and applications.
Ongoing management helps unmask new tactics that cybercriminals use and proactively develop counteractive means for eliminating the threats. But here’s the catch; you need to dig through thousands of events and analyze countless raw log files to stay updated with the cyber security goings-on in your industry.
That’s a lot of work and takes valuable time and resources that you need to channel elsewhere to achieve your business goals. As such, partnering with a top-rated IT security services firm is your best bet to getting your network infrastructure monitored 24/7 at a fraction of the cost of doing it internally.
4 Common Cyber Security Threats Facing Businesses and How to Prevent Them
Like we stated previously, that cyber risk might occur at your business is not a possibility (if), but an eventuality (when). The big question is, will you have implemented the cyber security best practices discussed above when data thieves and hackers come knocking? Do you even understand the cyber threats your business may be susceptible to in the first place? Let’s discover the top five cyber security threats facing businesses today.
Malware or malicious software is just as straightforward as its name. A cybercriminal inserts malicious software on your computer network. The software enables them to perform any action they please. These may include stealing your personal/financial information, spying on your online goings-on, or hacking other systems.
For a malware operation to succeed, the attacker sends their targets malicious links, attachments, or software programs. If you fall for the trap and open or download the links, programs, or attachments, you shall have installed malware on your computer. Some of the common types of malware include:
- Virus. Once activated, a malicious virus replicates itself across multiple folders, inserting its unique code. It spreads so rapidly that within a short while, the hackers can manage to steal personal/financial information, send spam, or shut down the system.
- Spyware. As the name suggests, this is a type of malware that cybercriminals install on your computer to spy or monitor all your online activities. They collect critical data such as passwords, browsing activities, credit card numbers, etc.
- Ransomware. Here, a hacker encrypts your sensitive data and blocks access until you pay a ransom. What makes ransomware more dangerous is that there’s no guarantee that the perpetrator will restore your data, even after you pay the ransom.
How to Protect Against Malware
One of the best ways to protect your business against malware attacks is to install top-rated antivirus software. And NO, we don’t mean the antivirus software that usually comes with your PC on a free trial basis. Go for the ones designed for your business-specific systems.
Besides acquiring protective software, refrain from downloading suspicious software or files over the internet. Create awareness among your employees. Impose rules against downloading non-work-related items like music, computer games, or clicking on links from suspicious sources. Last but not least, partner with a top-rated managed IT security services provider like Frontline. We’ll monitor your systems 24/7 and respond to red flags before they become incidents.
Business Email Compromise (BEC)
BEC is the latest email hacking technique used by cybercriminals to steal sensitive data by duping company employees and executives. In a BEC attack, the perpetrator hacks into your corporate email account and impersonates you to defraud your company, partners, customers, colleagues, or suppliers by asking them to transfer funds or sensitive information into their (the perpetrators’) accounts.
The attacker primarily targets an influential figure of the company – say, the COO, CEO, Founder, or CFO. After accessing their email accounts fraudulently, they proceed to the inbox settings and alter the “reply-to” button, so the victim won’t receive any alerts when the scam gets executed.
Below are the common examples of BEC attacks:
- The fake boss scam. It occurs when the attacker impersonating the boss asks employees to transfer money urgently to their fraudulent accounts. They usually ride on the fact that a subordinate can’t doubt, let alone question their boss.
- The fraudulent invoice scam. Here, the cybercriminal uses an employee’s (e.g., the company’s accountant) email account, asking customers or suppliers to wire funds to their fraudulent accounts.
- The fake attorney scam. It happens when the attacker hacks into a lawyer’s email account and asks their clients to deliver payments immediately to keep matters confidential.
How to Protect Against Business Email Compromise
There are several preventive measures you can take to avoid BEC attacks. These include:
- Enable multi-factor authentication, which prevents unauthorized email access. Attackers will need more than just the password to hack into accounts.
- Take employees through security awareness training. This equips them with skills for identifying and handling fraudulent emails.
- Encourage employees to always verify urgent money transfer requests by calling or checking in person, especially from C-level executives.
- Add a banner to emails coming from without your organization.
- Prohibit employees from automatically forwarding emails to external addresses.
- Check the email address lettering for slight changes, i.e., I instead of 1 or u instead of v.
Past and Present Employees
Believe it or not, your employees – past or present alike – also pose an inside security threat to your business. Some of them have or used to have direct access to your sensitive data. For instance, if by the time of letting them go, you weren’t on good terms with your former employees, they can decide to seek revenge by trying to hack into your system.
On the flip side, greenhorn employees may also expose your data to external threats through unintentional activities. Perhaps they may be too naive to not click on a pop-up message that says they’ve won $1000 worth of a brand-new iPhone, not knowing that falling into the trap installs malware to their computer.
How to Protect Against Inside Security Breaches
The most straightforward step is to expose all your new employees to thorough security awareness training to learn all the tricks and bait traps used by cybercriminals to carry out attacks. The other measure is to minimize the amount of work that employees perform on their personal devices. You also want to prohibit employees from connecting their non-work devices to the office Wi-Fi.
Dealing with vengeful ex-employees shouldn’t be tough. By altering all communal passwords and revoking their access to all work accounts as soon as they leave, you shall have prevented them from causing chaos.
Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks
As the title suggests, a DoS attack occurs when the attacker shuts down your machines or network, denying you service. This happens when the hacker floods your system with countless requests until it can’t process normal traffic, making it inaccessible for some time.
However, you may think that the DoS attacker’s primary mission is to steal sensitive data, but it’s not! Their goal is just to slow or take down your website, maybe for competition purposes or just disturbance.
Preventing a DoS Attack
The first critical step to preventing a DoS attack is to develop an incident response plan, i.e., ensure your teams are ready for their responsibilities and your data center is fortified. You also want to secure your network infrastructure by acquiring and installing threat management systems, advanced intrusion detectors, firewalls, anti-spam content filters, and most importantly, partner with a reliable managed IT security services company for round-the-clock monitoring.
Other DoS preventive measures to take include:
- Outsourcing DoS prevention to cloud-based solutions providers
- Maintaining a rock-solid network infrastructure by spreading out servers to make it difficult for attackers to launch targeted attacks
- Practicing basic network security, e.g., using complex passwords (changing them regularly), securing firewalls, implementing anti-phishing techniques, etc.
Top Cyber Security FAQs
What is cyber security monitoring?
Cyber security monitoring is the practice of keeping an eye on your IT security infrastructure to identify, analyze, detect, and mitigate cyber risks. It’s a proactive step that helps businesses evaluate cyber events, mark the ones that pose threats, and develop strategies to prevent the risks from actualizing.
What are cyber security services?
These are activities undertaken by IT security experts to manage and monitor computers, mobile devices, servers, networks, data, and electronics systems in the hopes of defending them from malicious attacks.
What are security monitoring tools?
These are software-or-hardware-based tools that help your company’s IT security services teams protect its network, systems, and sensitive data against attacks. They may include firewalls, virus detectors, intrusion detectors, etc.
What are security measures in cyber safety?
These are actions taken by your IT security services team to keep sensitive information, network, and systems private and safe from compromise or damage. They may include installing a firewall, raising awareness, monitoring for intrusion, updating systems, etc.
Now that you understand the steps needed to enhance cyber security monitoring practices, what next? Are you still going to ride on the fact that your business is too small to be targeted by cybercriminals (a big mistake), or will you act proactively to protect your IT security infrastructure? Don’t accept contributing to the alarming cyber security statistics!
Now is the time to implement these best practices with the assistance of a reliable managed it security provider like Frontline. Our self-motivated team of IT experts finds pleasure in helping businesses achieve healthy security postures through constant monitoring, cloud services, backup & disaster recovery, and more. Contact us today for the best cyber security monitoring services.