Cybersecurity Lessons Learned in 2021 

The pandemic ignited an explosion of digital transformation. Instant pivots to remote operations meant pushing forward with technology investments in cloud, innovation, connectivity, and automation that would have taken months or even years to implement in normal times. As the world began relying on these new digital capabilities, new challenges and risks were introduced.

In 2021, organizations faced a digital pandemic of breaches, widespread supply chain attacks, and ingenious uses of human engineering to compromise enterprise systems. The number of breaches soared as attackers targeted the millions of remote workers who didn’t have adequate security protection or sufficient training to spot hacking and phishing attempts.

As we look back on the past year, it’s clear that organizations need to stay cyber-resilient and have an empowered and proactive cybersecurity team backed by robust processes and supported by effective technology. Organizations must make the necessary investments to defend themselves against cyber threats and put plans in place to brace for any future disruptions.

Following these top cybersecurity tips will help your business improve your best practices for 2022 and strengthen your security stance as cyber threats and compliance obligations ramp up.

Embrace MFAs and VPNs

Weak or stolen credentials are the primary means by which a bad actor hacks into an organization. Passwords, especially those with privileged access to company systems and networks, are targets for hackers since they can get so much information from just one singular source. By implementing two-factor authentication (2FA), multifactor authentication (MFA), and end-to-end encryption, businesses can provide an extra layer of protection against data breaches.

Additionally, operating on an unsecured Wi-Fi network is just inviting hackers to come in and wreak havoc. While most company networks are secure, the modern business extends beyond the office, exposing companies to unsecured networks. Investing in a solid virtual private network (VPN) is crucial to combat this. Leveraging the private tunnels created by VPNs can allow businesses to keep a mobile workforce while still working to maintain their cybersecurity.

Adopt a Zero-Trust Approach

Since the pandemic began, we have seen an increased shift and emphasis toward zero trust principles. With the Zero Trust model, every request to access a network resource has to be authenticated and authorized at all seven security layers. The Zero Trust model begins with identity-driven security that puts a modern identity and access management (IAM) system at the core of your organization’s security posture.

Key components of an effective identity and access management system include:

  • Privileged access management
  • Automated lifecycle management for both internal and external users
  • Integrated MFA capabilities
  • Comprehensive identity governance

With modern IAM in place, your organization can effectively enforce least privilege access, restricting employee or contractor access to only what they need to perform their job. This starts with implementing role-based and attribute-based access controls (RBAC and ABAC) to help ensure that users have access only to appropriate permissions.

Keep Data Integrity Top of Mind

Hackers are almost always after your data, whether to steal it or take control of it and sell it back to you, and this at least helps narrow down where you need to focus the most energy. Similarly, if mission-critical data is unobtainable during a disruption such as a breach or a natural disaster, it will interfere with your ability to do business. Efforts should be concentrated on preserving the integrity of the information contained in your systems and policy built out to fulfill them.

Implement Security Awareness Training

According to the Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, 85% of breaches involved a human element. Remote work opens the door to risks posed by unsecured Wi-Fi networks, wireless printers, shared workspaces, and similar technologies not vetted by IT security. To combat this, organizations must activate frequent, thorough, and relatable, touchpoints to boost cybersecurity awareness among their employees.

Showing team members how threat actors operate, helping them recognize and understand the threats, and empowering them to be the first line of defense in stopping cyberthreats can go a long way in reducing incidental and unintentional impact. Cyber-security training should include best cybersecurity practices for remote work, including personal use of company computers, working environment, router security, VPN use, oversharing screens during online meetings, and IT support.

Wrapping Up

Digital transformation opens up vast opportunities for both businesses and attackers. To ensure that your organization takes advantage of those opportunities for growth while limiting the opportunities for attackers to access your valuable assets, you need to ensure a robust cybersecurity posture.

Atlantic IT will help you get a grip on your cybersecurity and compliance risks, forge a path forward, and implement the right technologies that will keep your data safe and your organization compliant. We provide a comprehensive suite of cybersecurity services, including endpoint protection, remote access, data protection, firewall systems, patch management, and audit assessment. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and let us help secure your business data.

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