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Cyber Hygiene Practices: Tips and Checklist

by DriveLock
Cyber hygiene isn't just important for remote work. A checklist

Cyber hygiene - these are simple security principles that every organisation should know and implement to keep all sensitive data under control and protect it from theft or attack. 

Worldwide, the costs caused by cybercrime are growing. If the business of cybercrime were measured as a gross domestic product, it would be the third-largest economy in the world after the US and China. Cybercrime is a profitable business, with relatively low risks compared to other forms of crime. Not only are the number of cyber attacks continuously increasing, but attackers are also becoming more and more tricky. They specifically exploit the human factor, which often becomes a gateway. IT security must adapt to changing hybrid working models and the increase in human error. It must keep pace with attack methods, distributed workplaces and infrastructures, and at the same time not interfere with daily work.

There are ways for companies to implement security measures that do not inconvenience users or make them feel restricted in their freedom.

Ever heard of cyber hygiene?

If not, then here is a brief explanation: By cyber hygiene we mean simple security principles that every IT department must know and implement. The main goal is to keep all sensitive data under control and protect it from theft or attack. Cyber hygiene deliberately includes the association with personal hygiene, where we take precautions to maintain our health. Thus, if a person neglects hygiene, he or she can catch an infection. If a company neglects IT hygiene, it can lead to data breaches and infection with malware.

Cyber hygiene affects everyone

Like personal hygiene, cyber hygiene starts with basic measures that contribute to good health. Although people like to attribute cyber hygiene to the IT department, it is a whole-business organisational task. It affects everyone. For example, the IT department can set password policies, but users must also set strong passwords and keep them secret.

Cyber hygiene requires regularity

The principles of cyber hygiene are not new, but they are easily forgotten in everyday life. Simple rules make it easier to follow the hygiene protocols regularly and completely.

 

An exemplary cyber hygiene checklist

We carry out hygiene measures regularly - at the very least when we are exposed to a significant threat. Thus, many of these measures are actually basic cyber security measures. We focus here on what needs to be regularly checked and adhered to:

1. Patch regularly
Every time malware develops further or a new vulnerability becomes known, software manufacturers respond with system and software updates. A regular patch helps to reduce your attack surface.

2. Inventory your hardware and software
A prerequisite of cyber hygiene is that you as a company know what you have in your inventory. Before you can adequately protect your attack surface, you need to identify all the assets within it. The basics of patch management include a complete inventory of all hardware and software assets across the corporate network. A vulnerability management solution continuously assesses risks from vulnerabilities and becomes a daily routine through automation.

3. The least privilege is better than maximum rights
Say goodbye to the idea of trusting everyone in the company, even if you know them well. "Never trust, always verify" is the maxim of Zero Trust, which applies to data, devices and users. An HR employee needs different access rights to contracts, for example, than an IT employee. Give users the minimal access they need and minimise the potential points of attack on your data.

4. Encrypt sensitive data
Use data encryption. If all else fails and your firewalls and access protocols are breached, or your laptop is stolen, encryption means that any important data you have stored is useless to the attackers. Basic cyber hygiene means encrypting your files and data before sharing them via removable media or, in the case of computers and laptops, the entire hard drive. The same applies to the encryption of removable media.

5. Strengthen the login with multi-factor authentication
Implementing two-factor authentication more rigorously verifies that the right person is granted access. And the more personal you make the authentication, the more secure your network. Thumbprint ID and facial recognition create even more security.

6. Security when working remotely
Employees who work from home and use their personal computers (and also those who use a company-owned device) should adopt basic cyber hygiene practices. These include:

  • Anti-virus protection. Employees should have antivirus and anti-malware software for use on their private computers. While this does not provide fail-safe protection, it does prevent many low-level attacks. Application control with application whitelisting is a necessary addition, preventing the execution of programmes not detected by the virus scanner.
  • Security Awareness. Employees should be regularly educated on cyber security best practices and procedures. This includes raising awareness of the need to be vigilant when receiving emails and checking the authenticity of the sender's address.
  • Home network security. Employees working in a home office should ensure that their home Wi-Fi is protected by a secure password.
  • Use a VPN. Virtual private networks provide another layer of protection for home internet use. While they cannot prevent cyberattacks on their own, they can provide a useful barrier against cyberattacks. There are some basic cyber security strategies that companies can adopt.

Further regular safety measures from the home office can be found here.

Fotos: iStock

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