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Employee Security Training

7 Best Practices for Social Media Security

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Social media is deeply ingrained in our lives, both for personal use on platforms like Instagram or TikTok and for professional networking on sites such as LinkedIn. While social media offers numerous benefits, it also presents potential security risks. Employees serve as the first line of defense against cyber threats, making it essential for organizations to equip them with effective social media security practices and tools to safeguard their online brand presence. Inadequate social media security measures can lead to multiple challenges and potential threats, including data breaches, impersonation, and reputational damage, which necessitate our utmost attention and proactive measures.

To help navigate these risks, we have compiled the best social media security practices to secure your social media accounts and protect your digital presence.

What is Social Media Security?

Social media security refers to the proactive measures taken by individuals or organizations to protect their data, privacy, and confidentiality and prevent businesses from threats and risks present on social media platforms. 

It involves protecting personal information through various methods such as ensuring secure account authentication processing, controlling third-party access control and permissions, and raising awareness programs about common social engineering tactics, and best practices for online safety.

Why is Social Media Security Important?

Social media is important for safeguarding the digital assets, privacy, and reputation of individuals and organizations. It involves implementing a range of proactive measures to mitigate the potential impact of cyber attacks, data breaches, and unauthorized access.

Why is Social Media Security Important?

Recent actions by Meta highlight this urgency. Meta took action against 631 million fake accounts between January and March 2024. This staggering number underscores the significance of robust social media security practices. Here are a few reasons why social media security is critical:

                                                              Image Source : Meta

Protects Customer Data and Sensitive Information: 

Social media stores vast amounts of personal data. Safeguarding this data from unauthorized access ensures privacy and prevents misuse, such as identity theft or financial fraud.

Maintains Brand Reputation: 

Social media security is crucial for preserving online reputation and safeguarding brand trust and credibility. It provides better control over one's online presence, prevents unauthorized access that can lead to the posting of inappropriate content, and protects sensitive information such as intellectual property maintaining brand reputation.

Mitigates Social Engineering Attacks: 

Robust social media security measures help prevent cyber threats, identify theft, scams, and social engineering attempts including phishing, malware, catfishing, brand impersonation and more. This helps protect users from being tricked into revealing sensitive information fostering a safe online environment.

Compliance with Regulation:

Implementing strong social media security practices ensures compliance with relevant data protection regulations and industry standards such as GDPR, CCPA, and PCI DSS. This protects sensitive data, avoids legal penalties, and enhances your customer trust and credibility.

Best Practices for Social Media Security

Social media is a powerful tool, but it also presents significant security risks. For example, if an individual's account is compromised by an attacker, the hacker could then send out phishing links to coworkers or extort the company's information from them. This highlights how easy it would be for a threat actor to inflict damage on an organization by hacking an employee's social media accounts. 

To mitigate these risks, it's crucial to adopt security best practices that protect both individuals and the company. Here are some best practices for social media security:

Implement Strong Passwords

  • Establish clear guidelines for creating passwords. Encourage the use of strong and unique passwords, avoid using common phrases, and use a mix of numbers and special characters to bypass social engineering tactics.
  • Utilize a password manager to manage multiple social media accounts and to manage the access credentials ensuring all data is secure.
  • Emphasize the importance of regular password updates to fortify defenses against evolving security threats. Social media applications release regular updates to ensure privacy and security settings may get more features and changes. Encourage employees to review these settings to ensure that you’re protected from any security vulnerability.

Enable Two Factor Authentication

  • MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring additional verification forms such as a code sent to your phone or email in addition to your password. This ensures that even if the passwords are compromised hackers cannot access accounts without additional authentication.
  • MFA also prevents cyber attacks by securing accounts even if the credentials or identities have been stolen or exposed by third parties.
  • Most social media platforms offer 2FA methods of authentication to reduce the risk of authorized access. Make sure you enable them to protect your accounts and applications.

Maintain Access Control

  • Apply the least privilege principle and limit access to social media profiles, features, and data to only those employees who need it for their roles, ensuring compliance and minimizing risk.
  • Keep track of user actions enabling timely detection and response to unauthorized activities. Verify and audit access permissions regularly to ensure only authorized employees have access, especially when roles change or employees leave the organization.
  • Develop procedures for account recovery to ensure that legitimate users can regain access in case of forgotten passwords or other authentication issues. 

Be Cautious about Social Engineering Tactics

  • Be aware of phishing attacks that trick you into revealing sensitive information. Ignore or report suspicious links or messages. Never share passwords, personal details, or financial information through social media or unsecured channels. Legitimate organizations won't ask for sensitive information this way.
  • Verify the identity of senders before interacting with links or messages. Even a trusted coworker, or friends and family’s accounts could have been hacked and their messages could be part of a phishing attack.
  • Do not post or store system details or access credentials online, even in private messages. In an event of a data breach, hackers could use this information to infiltrate the system.

Implement Social Media Monitoring Strategy

  • Continuously monitor social media activity across all platforms to detect potential security threats and identify areas of improvement.
  • Assign a person to verify the authenticity of all account posts and investigate any unexpected posts that deviate from your social media calendar
  • Keep an eye out for imposter accounts, inappropriate brand mentions and negative conversations surrounding your brand to protect your brand reputation.

Improve Security Awareness Among Employees

  • Educate your employees on identifying phishing attempts, suspicious sites and social engineering tactics through regular training sessions. 
  • Implement and enforce comprehensive guidelines for social media use, password management and data handling. Make sure new hires receive these guidelines and protocols for handling sensitive information during their onboarding.
  • Encourage continuous learning and awareness to follow reliable cybersecurity resources, and ensure annual mandatory privacy and security training for all employees. 

Leverage Security Automation Tools

  • Utilize automation tools to continuously monitor social media accounts in real-time and flag any non-compliant activities or potential security threats.
  • Implementing automated systems helps you track all social media interactions and changes providing a clear audit trail for security reviews and incident investigations.
  • These systems identify potential threats and patterns and help respond promptly, reducing the risk of data breaches, minimizing the impact of security incidents, and helps restore your online presence. 

How Cyber Sierra Enables Social Media Security

Social media security faces a multitude of threats today. Especially in regulated industries like banking, finance, and healthcare, it is a critical aspect that cannot be overlooked; making it imperative for companies to stay vigilant and adaptable. Hence implementing these best practices alone may not be sufficient for the evolving threat landscape. That’s where Cyber Sierra comes in.

As an AI-enabled compliance automation platform, Cyber Sierra empowers businesses to achieve comprehensive data security. Through continuous controls monitoring, the platform identifies vulnerabilities in real-time, ensuring proactive threat detection, response, and remediation.

The platform offers comprehensive security policy templates that allows businesses to disseminate to their employees efficiently. It also provides security training modules to educate employees on identifying and mitigating social media security risks.

Read: How Speedoc grew its security posture using Cyber Sierra’s interoperable cybersecurity platform

Cyber Sierra's specialized third-party risk management (TPRM) module assesses, monitors, and mitigates the vendor risk lifecycle. Additionally, it seamlessly integrates access to cyber insurance policies and facilitates smooth risk transfer, ensuring organizations are financially protected.

To see the platform live in action, schedule a demo today.

Srividhya Karthik

Srividhya Karthik is a seasoned content marketer and the Head of Marketing at Cyber Sierra. With a firm belief in the power of storytelling, she brings years of experience to create engaging narratives that captivate audiences. She also brings valuable insights from her work in the field of cybersecurity and compliance, possessing a deep understanding of the challenges and pain points faced by customers in these domains.

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Employee Security Training

Everything You Should Know about Cloud Security in 2024

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The utilization of cloud services has become an indispensable aspect of both personal and professional work. From storing personal files to hosting critical business operations, cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud have revolutionized the way we store, access, and manage data. 

While cloud computing offers numerous advantages, it also presents several security challenges that demand attention. Sensitive data, such as our personal data, emails, customer data, etc., are stored on servers beyond our immediate vicinity, underscoring the necessity for robust security measures. In this article, we’ll explore the significance of cloud security and how to protect your assets. Let’s get started.

What is Cloud Security?

Cloud security refers to the set of cyber security measures that includes security controls, policies, and procedures laid by enterprises to protect its data, applications, tools, in the cloud environments from internal and external threats.

As organizations heavily rely on cloud platforms, service providers keep increasing the security capabilities to meet evolving demands. But cloud security operates with a unique framework - that of shared responsibilities between the service provider and the customer, which is further categorized into provider-based, customer-based and service- based security measures. 

Types of Cloud Security

Organizations have access to a range of cloud security solutions tailored to their specific needs. Some common cloud security solutions include:

Types of Cloud Security

Data Loss Prevention (DLP)

DLP is a set of tools and processes employed to ensure the safety of data stored in the cloud environment. This includes classifying sensitive data and monitoring them for potential threats. DLP involves methods like encryption, access control and remediation plans to prevent data leakage and exposure. 

Identity and Access Management (IAM)

IAM is a framework that ensures only authorized users and devices can access cloud resources. It is a set of policies and procedures for managing digital identities, which the security operation or the IT team utilizes to set forth restrictions such as multi factor authentication, single sign in, role based access controls (RBAC) and more, to ensure secure access.

Cloud Native Security Framework (CNSF)

Utilizing Cloud Native Application Protection Platform (CNAPP) provides security solutions for cloud native applications or serverless platforms. This ensures robust application security by seamlessly integrating with DevOps processes, conducting vulnerability scans, deploying intrusion detection systems and policy enforcements to safeguard critical applications and their data. 

Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)

SIEM coordinates an organization's IT security by gathering and analyzing data from various sources such as logs, alerts and events. Using AI, SIEM provides you with a unified dashboard that consolidates security activities across multiple platforms offering a comprehensive view of your overall cybersecurity posture.

Unified Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)

SASE network security operates by merging various security functions into a single unified platform. This offers secure access from any device by integrating measures like Firewall as a Service, Zero-trust network access and Secure web gateway. With SASE organizations can streamline security and connectivity across cloud infrastructure. 

Why is Cloud Security Important?

“The cloud services companies of all sizes… The cloud is for everyone. The cloud is a democracy.” – Marc Benioff, CEO, Salesforce

Today, cloud computing is a ubiquitous technology that enables organizations to access a vast array of computing resources, software, databases and applications. It offers various services such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), Function as a Service (FaaS). These services, with their serverless architecture, power cloud computing and enhance the way businesses operate today. However, moving to the cloud brings new security challenges that need our attention.

Cloud services providers and their customers have a shared responsibility when it comes to cloud security. Cloud services providers are generally responsible for the security of the platform, infrastructure, and applications while the customers are responsible for the security of endpoints, user and network security, applications developed on the cloud platform, and data.

As enterprises heavily rely on cloud services, migrating their data, applications, and infrastructure, they face an increased risk of data breaches, cyber threats and compliance violations. Let us learn how to mitigate these threats. 

Common Challenges faced by Cloud Services

Cloud services offer organizations numerous benefits, but their complex infrastructure and the shared responsibilities between the service provider and the customer present vulnerabilities and security challenges. A few common threats faced by companies using cloud services include:

Common Challenges faced by Cloud Services

Data loss: This is one of the common security issues caused by malicious attacks, accidental deletion, insider threats and failure to include services. Loss of account access and breaches can lead to the loss of important data stored in the cloud such as personal information, activity logs, and system backups.

Hijacking of account: There are a lot of weak passwords utilized by employees which makes it easy for anyone to breach employee accounts on the cloud. Sometimes, cloud-based deployments are outside a customer’s network and accessible by anyone on the internet. Weakly configured security can enable an attacker to gain access without the organization’s knowledge

Denial of service attacks: A successful denial of service (DoS) attack on cloud infrastructure can affect multiple companies. A DoS attack is done by flooding a target with traffic higher than the manageable level of traffic. This causes the target to shut down.

Shared resources and responsibility: Cloud service operates on a shared model. If a customer's data is compromised it affects sharing the same resources too hence navigating through the shared responsibility between vendor and the customer is crucial. Failure to do it properly can lead to security gaps. 

Compliance and regulatory requirements: Different regions and industries impose specific regulations to comply in regard to data processing. Achieving compliance with these regulations and industry-specific standards such as MAS, GDPR, HIPAA and PCI-DSS requires careful planning and implementation in cloud environments.

Read more : 30 Common Types of Cyber Attacks and How to Prevent Them

How to Protect Cloud Security?

How to Protect Cloud Security?

Enhance Access Management

Implementing robust access control tools and measures are essential for cloud security. Access management enables organizations to centrally manage user access to both on-premise and cloud-based services ensuring adherence to predefined policies and roles. This includes centralized identity management, access controls, multi factor authentication and continuous monitoring. By deploying access management solutions, organizations can safeguard sensitive assets, enhance security and minimize the risk of unauthorized access. 

Integrate CSPM and SIEM tools

Utilize Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tools for monitoring real-time activity within your cloud environment. This automates threat monitoring and enables early detection of potential threats allowing for prompt response. The tool also leverages AI driven techniques to correlate data across diverse systems and provides your security operations team with actionable insight to mitigate evolving threats. 

Maintaining Data Protection Policies

Having data protection policies enforces guidelines and protocols to safeguard sensitive data and categorizing different types of data based on how sensitive they are and ensures that highly sensitive data is not stored on the cloud where the risk of breaches is high. This covers implementing appropriate security measures such as data encryption, access restriction and performing regular audits. By adhering to these policies organizations can minimize the risk of data breaches and uphold regulatory compliance. 

Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans

Develop comprehensive BCDR plans tailored to your cloud infrastructure to ensure business operations can continue seamlessly in an event of security incident. These solutions equip you with the tools and protocols needed to swifty recover lost data and resume business operations. Prioritizing BCRD in cloud security strategy is indispensable for minimizing downtime, mitigating financial losses and maintaining customer trust. 

Education on Cyber Hygiene

Human errors account for a significant portion of breaches and losing access to an account on the cloud can cause major breaches. Providing comprehensive training programs on cloud security best practices reduces this risk by a huge margin.Emphasize the importance of setting up strong passwords management, phishing awareness, and reporting suspicious activities.

Subscribing to a Reputable Cloud Security Solution

Cloud security providers constantly update their solutions based on the latest threats. Invest in cloud security solutions that provide a range of security features, such as threat detections, vulnerability management, compliance monitoring, to ensure all-around protection of cloud services. Leverage the expertise and threat intelligence provided by the cloud security vendor to enhance the overall security posture of the organization.

How to Choose the Right Cloud Security Solution?

With the vast number of options available in the market, it is challenging to choose the best solution that fits your organization’s needs. Here are few factors to consider that will help you choose the best security solution:

How to Choose the Right Cloud Security Solution?

Understand your Security Requirements

Start by clearly defining your security objectives and specific challenges you aim to address ;consider factors such as:

  • Types of data you need to protect 
  • Level of access control, data encryption and user authentication required
  • Potential security risks to your cloud environment
  • Compliance requirements specific to your industry or region

Evaluate Security Features and Capabilities

Look for solutions that provide:

  • Advanced threat detection and real-time monitoring
  • Automated incident response and remediation plans
  • Comprehensive vulnerability management and penetration testing
  • Secure access control and role-based permissions
  • Provides threat intelligence and compliance management

Ensure Compliance and Regulatory Adherence

Verify that the cloud security solution aligns with the relevant compliance standard and regulations applicable to your organization, such as:

  • Industry-specific regulations such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS
  • Region-specific regulations such as MAS, CCPA, GDPR
  • Widely-accepted security frameworks such as SOC 3

Consider Scalability and Integration

As your business grows, your cloud security needs may change too. Choose a provider  that offers tailored services that can be customized as per your needs.Select options that have:

  • Scalable infrastructure to accommodate increasing data volumes and user demands
  • Flexibility to adapt to new business initiatives, locations or technologies.
  • Seamless integration with existing security tools and access management systems
  • User- friendly interface with intuitive management console
  • Provides APIs for easy integrations with other platforms

Consider Cost Effectiveness and Total Cost of Ownership

Evaluate the overall cost-effectiveness of the cloud security solution, taking into account:

  • Initial setup and implementation expenses
  • Ongoing subscription or user based costs
  • Maintenance, support and training requirements
  • Potential costs associated with migrating incase in the future.

Audit and Reporting Capabilities

Assess the solutions audits and monitoring features including logging, reporting and real time alerts. Look for solution that provide

  • Centralized monitoring and reporting management across multiple cloud environments.
  • Comprehensive logging of user activities, system events, and security incidents.
  • Customizable reporting template for compliance needs
  • Real time alerts for suspicious activities

In addition to these factors, consider reviews and customer testimonials to assess the reliability and reputation of the vendor. Together, they will help you find the right solution for your business. Also remember that cloud security is an ongoing process. And hence you will need to review and update the security measures regularly to mitigate potential threats and to uphold the security posture of your cloud environment.

How Cyber Sierra enables Cloud Security

Cyber Sierra is a cutting-edge GRC (Governance, Risk, and Compliance) automation platform that leverages the power of generative AI to provide comprehensive cloud security solutions. This intelligent platform empowers enterprises to fortify their cloud environments against emerging threats while ensuring stringent compliance with regulatory requirements and operational resilience.

Cyber Sierra's robust offerings encompass a full suite of security solutions that help enterprises comprehensively secure their asset surface vis-a-vis siloed security tools. For instance, Cyber Sierra’s Third-Party Risk Management enables organizations to assess and mitigate risks associated with third-party vendors and suppliers, while its Continuous Control Monitoring capabilities provide real-time visibility into potential vulnerabilities and deviations from security policies, allowing for proactive risk mitigation.

And the Threat Intelligence module equips organizations with actionable insights and timely alerts regarding emerging cyber threats, empowering them to stay ahead of potential attacks and safeguard their cloud assets effectively.

To harness the power of generative AI and secure a holistic solution to streamline risk management and compliance, schedule a demo with Cyber Sierra today!

  • Employee Security Training
Srividhya Karthik

Srividhya Karthik is a seasoned content marketer and the Head of Marketing at Cyber Sierra. With a firm belief in the power of storytelling, she brings years of experience to create engaging narratives that captivate audiences. She also brings valuable insights from her work in the field of cybersecurity and compliance, possessing a deep understanding of the challenges and pain points faced by customers in these domains.

Find out how we can assist you in completing your compliance journey.

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Employee Security Training

30 Common Types of Cyber Attacks and How to Prevent Them

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In today's digital age, cybersecurity threats are a constant and evolving concern for individuals, businesses, and organizations alike. Cybercriminals employ a wide range of tactics and techniques to gain unauthorized access, steal data, disrupt operations, or demand ransom payments. Understanding these threats is crucial for implementing effective defense strategies. 

This comprehensive guide provides an overview of 30 common cyberattacks, their characteristics, and potential consequences.

What is a cyberattack? 

Cyberattack refers to an intentional or malicious attempt taken to gain unauthorized access to an organization network or systems, to steal, destroy or misuse data. Some examples of cyber attacks include ransomware, malware injection, phishing attacks, social engineering scams, password theft, denial of service attacks (DoS) etc. 

Why do people launch cyber attacks?

People launch cyber attacks for various reasons. The motive might be personal, such as disgruntled employees seeking retribution by stealing money, data or disrupting the systems. Or, for financial gain, stealing sensitive credit card information, for monetary extortion or identity theft. The motive can also be political or corporate espionage, engaging in cyber warfares where intellectual property or government secrets are exploited. Or performing hacktivism for simply showing off skills.

Who do cyberattackers target?

Cyber attacks target a wide range of entities from individual users, businesses of all sizes, government organizations, healthcare providers, NGOs, celebrities and educational institutions. Cyber threat actors often choose targets based on the motive, perceived vulnerabilities, existing security measures and the extent of access to sensitive information.

How often do cyber attacks occur?

According to a report by University of Maryland, a cyber attack occurs every 39 seconds amounting to approximately 2200 a day.  The frequency highlights the relentless nature of cyber threats and emphasizes the requirement for organizations to implement robust cybersecurity measures. 

Common Types of Cyber Attacks

Some of the common types of cyber attacks are malware attacks, phishing, SQL injection attacks, ransomware, man-in-the-middle attacks and distributed denial of service (DDoS). 

These cybersecurity attacks, however, are not limited to large enterprises alone. Malicious actors often exploit any internet-connected device, making it a potential weapon or target. This makes small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), which often have less robust cybersecurity measures in place, also vulnerable to various security incidents.

Security professionals and their teams, therefore, must be prepared to counter a wide range of cyber attacks. To aid in this effort, we will discuss 30 of the most common yet damaging types of cyber attacks and how they work.

Common Types of Cyber Attacks

Backdoor Trojan 

Backdoor trojans are malicious software that creates a hidden entry point for authorized access to launch a remote attack into a system or network. Once installed, cybercriminals can control the compromised system, steal data, monitor user activities, or launch further attacks. Backdoor trojans can be distributed through phishing mails, malicious websites, or through software vulnerabilities. 

These attacks remain undetected to traditional antivirus softwares making them a significant threat. Implementing robust cyber security practices and keeping systems patched and exercising caution against unsolicited programs is crucial to prevent such attacks. 

Birthday Attack

A birthday attack is a type of cryptographic attack or a collision attack that exploits the mathematics behind the birthday probability theory of finding collisions in the output of cryptographic hash functions.

In this context the attack aims to find the hash function by generating a large number of inputs, and find two inputs that produce the same hash value. This compromises the security of systems relying on hash uniqueness such as digital signatures or data encryption.To stay safe use hash functions with large output spaces and consider techniques like salting to enhance security.

Brute Force Attacks

A brute force attack is a hacking technique where attackers systematically guess every possible combination of characters to passwords, encryption keys, or other authentication mechanisms through trial and error method until they hit upon unauthorized access into systems. 

It is considered as a favored strategy among hackers due to its reliability and effectiveness of cracking weak and poorly implemented security systems. To mitigate brute force attacks enabling strong lengthy passwords, secure encryption with key stretching algorithms, rate limiting failed attempts and account lockouts for incorrect guesses are suggested. 

Business Email Compromise (BEC)

BEC attacks refers to a type of phishing attack where cybercriminals utilize email accounts and impersonate as executive-level employees or trusted business partners to trick victims into transferring funds or disclosing sensitive information via email. BEC accounts often target employees responsible for financial transactions or sensitive data.

To mitigate the risk of BEC attacks, organizations should implement stringent security measures such as 2FA and email authentication protocols, conducting employee training and awareness programs, and verification procedures for financial transactions.

Code Injection Attacks

As the name indicates, Code injection refers to an attack where malicious code is inserted into a web application or software allowing attackers to gain control of the system or access sensitive data.Code injection poses serious threats potentially leading to catastrophe outcomes such as spread of computer virus or worms.  It can be in the form of SQL injection, or command injection depending on the vulnerability. These vulnerabilities arise when an application passess untrusted data to the interpreter. 

To defend against code injection attacks implement secure coding practices, web application firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and regularly update and patch software to identify gaps and vulnerabilities.

Cross-site Scripting (XSS) Attacks

Cross-site Scripting (XSS) is a type of attack that allows attackers to inject malicious side scripts into trusted web based applications. These scripts are executed by the victim's web browser to hijack user sessions, steal cookies, or redirect users to malicious sites. There are different types of XSS such as reflected XSS, stored XSS, AND DOM based XSS each targeting different parts of the web application.

To mitigate XSS attacks web developers should implement proper input validation, output coding, and content security policies (CPSs). Also, web security firewalls and regular security audits can help detect and prevent XSS vulnerabilities. 

Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking is a cyber attack where hackers hijack a victim's computing resources to secretly mine cryptocurrency without their knowledge or consent, resulting in compromised performance and increased energy costs. The profits generated from this mining are directly to the hacker cryptocurrency wallet. Before its shutdown in March 2019, Coinhive emerged as a prominent tool for cryptojacking, being utilized in such incidents. 

To mitigate this users should regularly update software, use ad blockers and antivirus programs, and employ intrusion detection systems.

Distributed Denial of Service

A distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) is a type of attack where an attacker floods the targeted server, service, or network by overwhelming it or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of internet traffic from multiple users making it unavailable to other users or disrupting normal operations.

In Oct 2016, Dyn, a major DNS provider faced a record DDoS attack reaching 1.5 terabits per second. This assault disrupted services for websites like Twitter, Netflix, Paypal highlighting severity of the DDoS attacks and the importance of implementing robust strategies. Utilizing traffic filtering and cloud-based real-time monitoring tools can block suspicious traffic patterns and help minimize DDosS and ensure protection for your network.

DNS Spoofing

Domain Name System (DNS) spoofing is also called DNS cache poisoning where the attacker targets the DNS servers and redirects legitimate web traffic to malicious websites. 

This is done by exploiting vulnerabilities in the DNS protocol or by corrupting the DNS cache leading to phishing scams and malware attacks. Implementing (Domain System Security Extensions) DNSSEC and DNS resolvers can minimize the risk of DNS spoofing and ensure authenticity of DNS responses. 

DNS Tunneling

DNS tunneling is a technique used by attackers to bypass firewalls and security controls by encoding unauthorized data or commands within DNS queries and responses making them look like legitimate DNS traffic.

Utilizing DNS sinkholing techniques and deep packet infections help analyze anomalies in DNS traffic and redirect to a controlled servier and helps prevent unauthorized access. 

Drive-by Attacks and Drive-by Downloads

Drive-by attacks refers to an automatic malware download  in web browsers or browser plugins that is unaware to the users, compromising the systems and leaving the victim vulnerable for cyber attacks. In 2016, the Angler Exploit Kit, a type of drive-by attack toolkit, was used to target Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight, and Java leading to the widespread distribution of ransomware and other malware. 

Ensuring that web browsers, installed plugins and applications are regularly updated. Employ ad blocking and anti malware tools to prevent these types of download. 

Eavesdropping Attacks

Eavesdropping, also called as sniffing, is a type of attack where the attackers intercept, monitor, modify or delete data. This is done by compromising unsecured network traffic or communications without authorization, potentially exposing sensitive data.

To mitigate these types of attacks it is suggested to utilize strong encryption methods, implementing network segmentation, and educating users on secure communication practices. 

Identity-Based Attacks

Identity-based attacks are a form of social engineering where cybercriminals target user identities and credentials to gain unauthorized access to systems or data. These attacks can take various forms, such as phishing, credential stuffing, password spraying, or account takeover attempts.

Establishing comprehensive, Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions to control user identities, access privileges, and authentication processes, reducing the risk of unauthorized access.

Insider Threats

Insider threats are cyber security risks that involve malicious activities by authorized users or individuals within an organization, such as disgruntled employees or contractors, who abuse their access privileges to steal data, sabotage systems, or conduct other harmful activities.

In 2013, Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, leaked classified information, revealing government surveillance programs. This breach of national security sparked global debates on privacy and surveillance, highlighting the risks of insider threats. Implementing role-based access control (RBAC) to restrict access to sensitive data, conducting regular employee monitoring can reduce the risk of insider threats.

Internet of Things (IoT) Attacks

IoT attacks target smart devices and applications exploiting vulnerabilities in their design or implementation to gain unauthorized access or control. 

In 2016, the Mirai botnet attack targeted vulnerable IoT devices, such as routers, IP cameras, and DVRs, by exploiting default passwords and insecure configurations. Regularly updating device firmware and applying security patches to address known vulnerabilities can enhance the security posture of IoT devices. 

Malware

Malware attack, short for malicious software, is a common cyber attack designed to disrupt systems, steal data, or gain unauthorized access. Examples of malware include harmful code, viruses, worms, Trojans, ransomware, and spyware.

Enabling a multi-layered approach, implementing antivirus protection, regular software updates, and user awareness training, can reduce the risk of malware attacks. 

Man-in-the-Middle (MITM) Attacks

MITM attacks also known as an on-path attack involves intercepting and potentially modifying communications between two parties, allowing attackers to eavesdrop on or manipulate the exchanged data.

In 2018, researchers discovered a vulnerability in the Starbucks mobile app that allowed attackers to conduct MITM attacks on customers using the company's public Wi-Fi networks. The vulnerability enabled the attackers to intercept and potentially modify the communication between the app and Starbucks' servers, potentially exposing sensitive user information. By adopting security measures, like encryption, network segmentation, and continuous monitoring, organizations and individuals can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to MITM attacks.

Password Attacks

Password attacks is a type of attack aimed to exploit password protected accounts by cracking or guessing user passwords through techniques like brute force, dictionary attacks, or exploiting password reuse or weak password policies.

In 2012, LinkedIn experienced a significant data breach where hackers exploited weak password encryption practices, resulting in the exposure of over 100 million user passwords. Enforce strong password requirements, regular password changes, implement MFA like SMS codes or biometric data to access their accounts can help mitigate these attacks.

Phishing

Phishing is a form of social engineering attack that involves tricking victims into revealing sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial data, through fraudulent emails, websites, or messages that appear legitimate.

In 2017, a phishing scam aimed at Google users sent fake Google Docs collaboration invites. Many fell for it, granting access to their google account and risking sensitive data exposure. Educating users about the common signs of phishing emails and implementing email filtering solutions and anti-phishing tools that can detect and block phishing emails reducing the likelihood of successful phishing attacks.

Ransomware

Ransomware is a type of cyber extortion technique attack that encrypts a victim's files or systems making them accessible, demanding a ransom payment in exchange for the decryption key. 

One notable  ransomware attack is the WannaCry ransomware attack that occurred in May 2017, affecting 250,000 users of Microsoft Windows across 150 countries. Maintain regular backups of critical data on separate, secure storage devices or cloud services to ensure that data can be restored without paying the ransom. Educate users about the risks of clicking on suspicious links, downloading attachments from unknown sources, and practicing safe browsing habits to prevent ransomware infections.

Session Hijacking

Session hijacking also known as cookie hijacking is a malicious attack that involves intercepting and taking control of an established user session, allowing attackers to impersonate the victim and gain unauthorized access to their accounts or data and is permitted to perform operations instead of the user whose session was hijacked.

Implementing secure communication protocols like HTTPS and utilize techniques such as session tokens, expiring sessions, and multi-factor authentication to enhance session security and reduce the risk of hijacking attempts.

Spear-phishing Attacks

Spear-phishing attacks are highly targeted phishing campaigns that target high profile individuals through malicious mails. The attacks use personalized information or social engineering tactics to increase the likelihood of a victim falling for the attack.

Conducting awareness training on  phishing attempts, verifying sender authenticity and avoiding clicking on suspicious links or attachments. Also, implementing email filtering tools and email authentication protocols like SPF, DKIM, and DMARC can prevent such types of attacks.

Spoofing

Spoofing is a type of cyber attack where attackers impersonate a trusted source, such as a website, email address, or network entity, to deceive victims into revealing sensitive information or executing malicious actions. 

These types of attacks can be mitigated by implementing robust authentication mechanisms,  encryption, and educating users about the importance of verifying the legitimacy of sources before sharing sensitive information or taking action. 

SQL Injection Attacks

SQL injection is a prevalent code injection tactic where attackers exploit vulnerabilities in web applications by inserting malicious SQL code into user input fields, allowing attackers to access or manipulate databases without proper authorization. Ensuring proper input validation and sanitation mechanism before using SQL queries can help prevent SQL injections.

Supply Chain Attacks

Supply chain is a type of attack where the attacker targets the elements in the software supply chain, introducing malicious code or vulnerabilities into legitimate software or hardware components, potentially compromising numerous systems and organizations downstream processes. One notable example is the 2020 SolarWinds attack where malicious code was injected into the software's build cycle, affecting about 18,000 downstream customers, including major firms and government agencies.

Implementing rigorous due diligence and vetting processes for third party suppliers and employing software integrity checks helps prevent these attacks.

Trojan Horses

Trojan horses is a type of malware that impersonates legitimate software or files, tricking users into installing it and granting unauthorized access or control to attackers. 

This is done by inserting a malicious code in the software or the file attachment once downloaded the code executes to steal sensitive information. Utilizing antivirus software with real time monitoring capabilities exercising caution about downloading unknown files and phishing email can help mitigate these types of attacks. 

URL Interpretation

URL interpretation also called as URL poisoning attacks are when an attacker exploits the way web browsers and servers interpret and handle URLs, allowing attackers to bypass security controls, conduct phishing attacks, or execute malicious code. 

Implementing URL validation mechanisms, strong coding practices, input validation, and enforcing access controls help mitigate URL exploitation.

Web Attacks

Web attacks are a wide range of threats targeting web applications, such as cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injection, and cross-site request forgery (CSRF). These attacks exploit vulnerabilities in the code or design of a web application allowing attackers to manipulate data and alter website content and steal sensitive information.

 In 2017, Equifax, a major credit card company suffered a major data breach due to a web based vulnerability exposing personal information of 147 billion people. Implementing strict input validation mechanisms, conducting regular security audits, penetration testing helps prevent these types of attacks. 

Whale-phishing Attacks

Whale-phishing attacks are targeted phishing attacks that focus on high-profile individuals or key executives within an organization, typically aiming to gain access to sensitive data or financial resources. 

These attacks look more personalized and sophisticated since the attacks use social engineering tactics to make the profile look more credible for phishing which makes it difficult to bypass. Recommended mitigation strategies include employee infosec training, utilizing multi factor authentication, and using SIEM and end point detection tools.

Zero-day Exploits

Zero-day exploit is a cyber security vulnerability where the attackers take advantage of previously unknown vulnerabilities in a software application to compromise systems and steal sensitive information before a patch or solution is available. Since the vulnerability is not known to the vendor it is challenging to mitigate this. However performing regular software patches, implementing continuous monitoring, network segmentation and application whitelisting can help mitigate zero day attacks.

Next Steps - Adopt a Multi-layered Security Approach

(Design with the four pointers given below)

Defending against these diverse cybersecurity threats requires a multi-layered approach, including robust security measures, regular software updates, employee awareness training, and continuous monitoring and incident response capabilities to create a strong defense against cyber security threats.

Multi-layered Security Approach

Cultivating a Culture of Cyber Resilience

A multi-layered security approach ensures that each vulnerable area of the network is protected by multiple security controls that together bring a strong interconnected defined mechanism against potential attacks and enhances system, application , network, and infrastructure security.

By adopting this multi-layered security approach organization fosters a culture of cybersecurity awareness and resilience, to enhance their ability to defend against diverse threats. This holistic strategy empowers them to anticipate, withstand, and recover from cyber incidents, ensuring the continued protection of their critical assets and the trust of their customers and stakeholders.

Practicing Continuous Vigilance

Cybersecurity is an ongoing battle, requiring organizations to maintain a state of constant vigilance. Regular software updates and patches are essential to address known vulnerabilities and keep systems secure. Additionally, comprehensive employee security awareness training helps individuals recognize and respond to emerging threats, such as phishing and social engineering attacks.

Strengthening Incident Response Capabilities

Complementing these preventive measures, organizations should also invest in robust incident response capabilities. This includes implementing security monitoring tools, incident response plans, and dedicated security teams to quickly detect, investigate, and mitigate the impact of any successful cyber attacks.

Leverage automation for enhanced security

Understanding the nature and impact of cyber threats is crucial for organizations and individuals to prioritize cybersecurity efforts effectively. Implementing robust countermeasures to safeguard systems, data, and assets is paramount. However, considering the complexity of these systems, managing all these manually can be daunting. This is where the power of automation tools comes into play. 

Utilizing automation tools protects your cyber assets, streamlines your operation, helps you track real-time monitoring of your cyber posture, automate proactive security measures and improves your indecent response capabilities thereby effectively mitigating cyber attacks.

Cybersecurity with Cyber Sierra

Cyber Sierra offers a comprehensive and integrated approach to cybersecurity, addressing security challenges both within the organization and across the extended ecosystem. Our platform streamlines governance, risk, and compliance for organizations, ensuring robust security practices and regulatory compliance.

The platform also features a robust Continuous Control Monitoring (CCM) functionality, which helps to continuously monitor security controls, rapidly detect and alert for deviations putting security controls on auto-pilot. The platform also offers threat intelligence by analyzing real-time data to help organizations stay ahead of emerging cyber threats.

Cyber Sierra's dedicated third-party risk management (TPRM) module assesses, monitors, and mitigates the vendor risk lifecycle. It also enables seamless risk transfer by integrating access to cyber insurance policies, allowing organizations to transfer unmitigated risks and ensure financial protection. 


To see the platform live in action, schedule a demo today.

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Srividhya Karthik is a seasoned content marketer and the Head of Marketing at Cyber Sierra. With a firm belief in the power of storytelling, she brings years of experience to create engaging narratives that captivate audiences. She also brings valuable insights from her work in the field of cybersecurity and compliance, possessing a deep understanding of the challenges and pain points faced by customers in these domains.

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Employee Security Training

A Guide to Managing Sensitive Data

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Are you taking all the necessary steps to protect your sensitive data?

In today’s fast-paced digital age, organizations, businesses, and individuals are experiencing increasing concern surrounding potential data breaches and the serious consequences they entail – from financial losses to legal troubles and reputational damage.

With the threat landscape constantly evolving and new risks emerging every day, it has become more important than ever to address this issue promptly.

Fortunately, there is a remedy at hand. Read on to know how you can adopt a comprehensive approach to managing sensitive data, encompassing the latest industry standards and recommended practices to shield your organization’s most valuable resource.

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What Is Sensitive Data?

Sensitive data is any information that is considered highly confidential, requiring special protection to prevent unauthorized access, misuse, or disclosure.

It can also include other types of data that can impact the privacy of individuals or organizations—for example, credit card details, medical records, and financial information.

Examples of sensitive data include:

  • Personal information (e.g., social security numbers, credit card numbers, medical records)
  • Intellectual property (e.g., trade secrets, patents, copyrights)
  • Financial information (e.g., bank account numbers, financial statements)
  • Confidential business information (e.g., customer lists, pricing strategies)

This type of information is sensitive because there are serious consequences that could result from its improper use. Unauthorized sensitive data exposure could cause financial loss to companies, compromise an entity’s security, affect someone’s privacy or diminish a company’s competitive advantage.

Regulations on Sensitive Data

Sensitive data is information that, if lost, stolen, or accessed without authorization, could lead to severe consequences for individuals and organizations.

To protect this data, various regulations have been established globally. In this article, we will discuss five key regulations on sensitive data.

 

five compliance frameworks

1. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR is a comprehensive data protection regulation the European Union (EU) implemented in 2018. It aims to protect the privacy and personal data of EU citizens. The regulation applies to all organizations that process the personal data of EU residents, regardless of where they are located. Key components of the GDPR include:

  • Obtaining explicit consent from individuals before collecting and processing their data
  • Providing individuals with the right to access, modify, and delete their data
  • Implementing data protection measures such as pseudonymization and encryption
  • Reporting data breaches to authorities within 72 hours

2. California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

The CCPA is a data privacy law enacted in California in 2018, granting California residents the right to control their personal information. The CCPA applies to businesses that collect, process, or sell personal data of California residents. Key provisions of the CCPA include:

  • Allowing individuals to request access to and deletion of their personal information
  • Providing individuals with the right to opt out of the sale of their personal data
  • Implementing reasonable security measures to protect personal data

3. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA is a US federal law enacted in 1996 to protect the privacy and security of individuals’ health information. It applies to healthcare providers, health plans, clearinghouses, and business associates. Key aspects of HIPAA include:

  • Establishing Privacy and Security Rules to protect individuals’ health information
  • Limiting the use and disclosure of protected health information (PHI) without authorization
  • Implementing administrative, physical, and technical safeguards to protect PHI
  • Requiring notification of affected individuals and authorities in case of data breaches

4. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)

PCI DSS is a set of security standards designed to protect cardholder data and ensure the secure processing of credit card transactions. It applies to all organizations storing, processing, or transmitting cardholder data. Key requirements of PCI DSS include:

  • Building and maintaining a secure network and systems
  • Protecting cardholder data through encryption and access controls
  • Implementing robust access control measures
  • Regularly monitoring and testing networks and systems
  • Maintaining an information security policy

5. Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)

PIPEDA is a Canadian federal law governing private-sector organizations’ collection, use, and disclosure of personal information. It applies to businesses operating in Canada, except for those in provinces with substantially similar privacy laws. Key principles of PIPEDA include:

  • Obtaining informed consent for the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information
  • Limiting the collection, use, and retention of personal data to necessary purposes
  • Ensuring the accuracy, confidentiality, and security of personal information
  • Providing individuals with the right to access and correct their personal data
  • Developing and implementing privacy policies and practices to comply with PIPEDA

 

How to Manage Sensitive Data?

 

10 Best Practices to Manage Sensitive Data

 

Here are five best practices to handle sensitive data properly. 

  1. Encrypt sensitive data
  2. Implement data retention and disposal policies
  3. Train employees on data security
  4. Adopt anti-malware practices
  5. Deploy dedicated data security software 
  6. Implement access management
  7. Conduct risk assessment
  8. Do regular backups
  9. Create incident response plans 
  10. Manage third-party risks

Let’s look at them one by one.

1. Encrypt sensitive data

Encrypting data ensures that only authorized users can access it and protects against unauthorized interception of the data during transmission. A study by Ponemon Institute and Thales eSecurity found that organizations that used encryption extensively were less likely to suffer from a data breach 

Use encryption to protect,

  • Sensitive data at rest (e.g., stored on hard drives) and
  • Data in transit (e.g., during transmission over a network).

This ensures that even if the data is intercepted, it cannot be read without the proper decryption key.

Encrypting data helps keep information safe from hackers and other intruders. This can significantly reduce the risk of data breaches and their associated costs. For instance, the GDPR mandates organizations to implement data protection measures such as pseudonymization and encryption.

2. Implement data retention and disposal policies

Establish and maintain policies that clearly state 

  • What data should be retained, 
  • How long it should remain confidential, and 
  • How to dispose of sensitive information once its purpose has been fulfilled. 

Update these policies regularly to keep them relevant for your organization.

Proper data retention and disposal policies help minimize the risk of data breaches due to outdated or unnecessary data. They also help to ensure compliance with regulations such as GDPR and protect sensitive information.

3. Train employees on data security

A well-trained workforce is essential to maintaining the security of your company’s data. Ensure all employees are aware of the company’s data security policies and have access to any necessary training.

Provide regular training to employees on the importance of data security and best practices for handling sensitive information. In this way, the entire organization is aware of its responsibility to protect sensitive data and how best to respond in case of a security breach.

Cyber Sierra’s cybersecurity platform allows organizations to maintain a central repository of company policies that can be read and acknowledged by all employees. It also offers a comprehensive employee security training program that is tailored to the present cyber risks. Book a demo with us to know more.

4. Adopt anti-malware practices

Implement anti-malware practices to protect your organization from malware attacks.

  • Install antivirus software
  • Use administrator accounts only when necessary
  • Keep software up-to-date
  • Implement spam protection and email security
  • Monitor user accounts for suspicious activity

An effective anti-malware infrastructure reduces the risk of data breaches, system downtime, and other financial costs.

5. Deploy dedicated data security software

Implement an integrated data protection system to control data security from a technological standpoint. Use a single, powerful piece of security software to monitor, automate access control, send notifications, and manage password auditing.

Deploying dedicated data security software can reduce the risk of security incidents by providing a centralized and comprehensive approach to data protection. This allows for better visibility and control over sensitive data and enables organizations to respond quickly to potential threats.

6. Implement access management

Access management involves implementing procedures and systems to ensure that only authorized individuals can access sensitive data. This can be achieved by:

  • Using secure passwords and multi-factor authentication
  • Limiting access to sensitive data on a “need-to-know” basis
  • Monitoring access to sensitive data and logging all access attempts

When organizations implement access management measures, they can ensure that sensitive data remains secure and only accessible to those who need it.

7. Conduct risk assessments

Risk assessment involves identifying potential threats to sensitive data, ascertaining their probabilities of occurrence and taking steps to prevent them or mitigate their impact. With regular risk assessments, organizations can:

  • Identify vulnerabilities in their data security infrastructure
  • Develop a plan for responding to security incidents
  • Ensure that data is protected against unauthorized access or theft

Regular risk assessments also help ensure compliance with data protection regulations and standards.

8. Do regular backups

Conducting and maintaining regular backups of sensitive data is critical to ensuring that it remains secure and accessible in the event of any data loss or security incident.

Regular backups allow you to restore your data quickly in the event of a breach and minimize any damage caused by it. Backups should be stored in an offsite location that is not accessible from the network where sensitive data resides.

9. Create incident response plans

Incident response plans are a critical component of managing sensitive data. By developing a plan for responding to security incidents, organizations can:

  • Identify the types of security incidents that could compromise sensitive data
  • Develop a clear response procedure for each type of incident
  • Train employees on how to respond to security incidents
  • Regularly test and update the incident response plan

Having an effective incident response plan in place ensures that your organization can respond quickly and effectively to security incidents and minimize the impact on your sensitive data.

10. Manage third-party risks

Many organizations work with third-party vendors or partners who may have access to sensitive data. It is, therefore, essential to establish clear requirements for handling and protecting data when working with third parties. Some ways to manage third-party risks include:

  • Conducting due diligence before working with third parties
  • Establishing clear contractual obligations for data protection
  • Only sharing data with third parties on a “need-to-know” basis
  • Monitoring third-party compliance with data protection regulations and standards

Proactively managing third-party risks helps organizations ensure that their sensitive data remains secure when they share it with others.

Cyber Sierra has a specialized third-party risk management feature that allows organizations to continuously monitor and manage vendor risks. Book a demo to know how to implement it in your organization.

 

Tips to Protect Sensitive Data

 

Tips to Protect Sensitive Data

 

Here are some tips to help you protect your sensitive data:

  1. Implement strong access controls
  2. Perform data protection impact assessment
  3. Use data masking
  4. Use physical security of devices

Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.

1. Implement strong access controls

Access control is a cornerstone of information security. It helps ensure that only authorized people can access your data and protects against insider threats by preventing unauthorized employees from accessing sensitive data.

Limit access to authorized individuals on a need-to-know basis and use proper identity management systems, such as biometrics, passwords, and passphrases.

Implementing strong access controls helps prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data, reducing the risk of data breaches and ensuring that only those who genuinely need access to specific information can obtain it.

2. Perform data protection impact assessment

A Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) is a systematic process to identify and minimize the risks associated with the processing of personal data. Conducting a DPIA ensures that your organization complies with data protection laws and regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

3. Use data masking

Data masking is a technique to conceal sensitive information by replacing actual data with fictitious yet realistic data. This method is often used when the actual data is unnecessary, such as in testing and development environments, training sessions, or when sharing data with third parties.

Data masking can protect sensitive data from unauthorized access and reduce the risk of data leaks.

4. Use physical security of devices

Maintaining the physical security of devices that store or handle sensitive data is crucial in protecting your information. This includes proper locks, secure storage, and access controls for laptops, devices, and servers.

Implementing strong security measures like video surveillance, card access systems, and alarms can also help protect your physical infrastructure from unauthorized access or theft.

 

Wrapping Up

The most important thing to remember regarding security is that it’s an ongoing process. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and you will need to constantly evaluate your environment, technology infrastructure, and business practices.

Managing passwords, organizing folders, and following the best security practices can sometimes seem overwhelming. But as long as you are mindful of all your responsibilities, it is completely manageable!

  • Employee Security Training
  • CTOs
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Srividhya Karthik

Srividhya Karthik is a seasoned content marketer and the Head of Marketing at Cyber Sierra. With a firm belief in the power of storytelling, she brings years of experience to create engaging narratives that captivate audiences. She also brings valuable insights from her work in the field of cybersecurity and compliance, possessing a deep understanding of the challenges and pain points faced by customers in these domains.

Find out how we can assist you in completing your compliance journey.

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Employee Security Training

Creating a Culture of Security in Your Organization: From Awareness to Action

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We live in an era where cyber-attacks are on the rise. As a business owner, you need to know that your company’s data is not only valuable to you—it’s also valuable to your customers. You must do everything possible to protect it and make sure it stays safe!

That’s why building a security-first culture is so important: it protects not only your company’s reputation but also its bottom line.

In this blog post, we’ll explore six answers to the question, “Can you share your most impactful reasoning for why building a security-first culture is a smart business move in today’s landscape?” From protecting a company’s valuable assets and reputation to securing customer trust and improving productivity, we’ll examine the various benefits of prioritizing security in your business.

Creating a Culture of Security in Your Organization: From Awareness to Action

The Growing Threat of AI-Driven Cyber Attacks 

You cannot simply assume that employees understand issues related to cyber attacks, phishing, and the growing threat of AI-related fraud. You need to ensure training is in place to show your teams what to be looking for in relation to potential threats.

Tracey Beveridge
HR Director, Personnel Checks
quote_by

In the rapidly evolving digital age, businesses face a growing threat from AI-driven cyber attacks. As a result, building a security-first culture and investing heavily in digital security training for your workforce has become essential.  

“You cannot simply assume that employees understand issues related to cyber attacks, phishing, and the growing threat of AI-related fraud. You need to ensure training is in place to show your teams what to be looking for in relation to potential threats.”

Tracey Beveridge, HR Director, Personnel Checks

Increasing Frequency of Cyber Attacks

Building a security-first culture is a smart business move in today’s landscape due to the increasing frequency and severity of cyberattacks. To combat these risks, businesses should invest in cybersecurity training and education for employees, implement robust security protocols and technologies, and conduct regular security assessments to identify and address vulnerabilities.

Jeremy Reis
Founder, Million Tips
quote_by

As more and more businesses and individuals rely on technology for daily operations, cybercriminals have become increasingly sophisticated and aggressive in their attempts to access valuable data and assets. According to a report by IBM, the average cost of a data breach in 2022 was $9.44 million, a significant increase from previous years, including not only direct expenses but also the loss of trust and reputation that can have long-term consequences. 

“Building a security-first culture is a smart business move in today’s landscape due to the increasing frequency and severity of cyberattacks. To combat these risks, businesses should invest in cybersecurity training and education for employees, implement robust security protocols and technologies, and conduct regular security assessments to identify and address vulnerabilities.”

Jeremy Reis, Founder, Million Tips

Protecting a Company's Valuable Assets and Reputation

A security-first culture ensures that security is not an afterthought but an integral part of every aspect of a business’s operations. It encourages employees to be vigilant and proactive in identifying and reporting security incidents, fostering a mindset of continuous improvement to stay ahead of evolving threats.

Anirban Saha
Founder and Editor, TechBullish
quote_by

Building a security-first culture not only reduces the risk of security incidents but also increases customer trust and confidence. Customers seek out companies that prioritize their security and privacy, and a security-first culture demonstrates a commitment to these values.

“A security-first culture ensures that security is not an afterthought but an integral part of every aspect of a business’s operations. It encourages employees to be vigilant and proactive in identifying and reporting security incidents, fostering a mindset of continuous improvement to stay ahead of evolving threats.”

Anirban Saha, Founder and Editor, TechBullish

Securing Customer Trust

A security-first culture sends a clear message to customers that a company prioritizes their security. By implementing robust security measures and educating employees on best practices, companies can demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding customers’ personal information

Shawnee Wright
Business Development Manager, Integrated Axis Technology Group, Inc.
quote_by

In today’s digital landscape, customers are increasingly concerned about the security of their personal data. High-profile data breaches have made headlines in recent years, and consumers are more aware than ever of the risks of sharing their personal information online.

“A security-first culture sends a clear message to customers that a company prioritizes their security. By implementing robust security measures and educating employees on best practices, companies can demonstrate their commitment to safeguarding customers’ personal information. This may involve implementing strong encryption protocols, regularly testing and updating security systems, and conducting routine security audits.

In addition to technical security measures, companies can also prioritize communication and transparency to build customer trust. By being upfront and transparent about their security practices, companies can help customers understand the steps they are taking to protect their data.”

Shawnee Wright, Business Development Manager, Integrated Axis Technology Group, Inc.

Remembering Data is Power

Companies utilizing cloud services and third-party integrations are particularly susceptible to these threats, which can disrupt their operations, damage customer trust, and harm their reputation, ultimately impacting their profits.

Marco Genaro Palma
Co-Founder, TechNews180
quote_by

With the increasing interconnectivity and automation in today’s tech-savvy world, the risk of cyber-attacks and data leaks is rapidly growing. Thus, establishing a security-first culture is imperative for every employee.

“Companies utilizing cloud services and third-party integrations are particularly susceptible to these threats, which can disrupt their operations, damage customer trust, and harm their reputation, ultimately impacting their profits.”

Marco Genaro Palma, Co-Founder, TechNews180

Improving Productivity and Reducing Downtime

Prioritizing cybersecurity enables businesses to protect their assets, maintain customer trust, and ensure continual operation. Robust security measures can also improve productivity and reduce downtime, leading to cost savings. Building a security-first culture not only shields businesses from cyber threats but also demonstrates a commitment to responsible and ethical business practices.

Basana Saha
Founder and Editor, KidsCareIdeas
quote_by

A security-first culture is crucial for business continuity in today’s landscape, as cyberattacks can result in severe consequences, such as loss of intellectual property, legal liabilities, damage to reputation, and financial ruin.

“Prioritizing cybersecurity enables businesses to protect their assets, maintain customer trust, and ensure continual operation. Robust security measures can also improve productivity and reduce downtime, leading to cost savings. Building a security-first culture not only shields businesses from cyber threats but also demonstrates a commitment to responsible and ethical business practices.”

Basana Saha, Founder and Editor, KidsCareIdeas

  • Employee Security Training
  • CTOs
  • Startup Founders
Srividhya Karthik

Srividhya Karthik is a seasoned content marketer and the Head of Marketing at Cyber Sierra. With a firm belief in the power of storytelling, she brings years of experience to create engaging narratives that captivate audiences. She also brings valuable insights from her work in the field of cybersecurity and compliance, possessing a deep understanding of the challenges and pain points faced by customers in these domains.

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completing your compliance journey.

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Employee Security Training

5 Best Phishing Protection Solutions

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Security breaches are executed through multiple tactics, but 90% of the time, they come in the form of phishing attacks.

The most common manoeuvre of phishing cybercriminals is to use famous brands and logos and pretend to be high-ranking individuals of an organization to dupe victims into opening malicious emails and links.

Thus, phishing, pronounced like fishing, is an online attack that deceives victims into sharing confidential information or sending money.

To protect your business from phishing attacks, read this article and learn about what your business can do for the best phishing protection.

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Phishing Scams in Recent History

Though there has been a growing awareness of phishing threats, many companies are still getting duped into these scams.  

In 2014, the Swedish Bank lost almost $1 million to digital fraudsters when bank customers opened phishing emails with Trojan malware (masquerading as anti-spam software).

That same year, Sony executives were lured into sending over sensitive data thinking that the phishing email came from Apple.

Below are just some of the largest phishing scams in history.

Phishing Scams in Recent History

 

Common Phishing Attacks

Phishing threats have evolved, and cybercriminals have become more sophisticated.

However, regardless of the type of phishing scam, the common denominator remains: pretend to be someone else to steal things of value.

common phishing attacks

  • Smishing and vishing

SMS phishing (smishing) and voice call phishing (vishing) utilize phones to execute the attack. An example is a message, purportedly from a bank, saying that the victim’s account has been compromised. The letter then instructs the victim to send over the bank account number and password. Sharing these confidential details allows the attacker to control the victim’s bank account.

  • Spear phishing

In some instances, phishing attackers target a specific individual in a company because of his position—a strategy known as spear phishing.

Check the example below. Examine how the phishing attack is mainly directed to a member of the HR department and how the business email compromise (BEC) seems to be knowledgeable of the industry where the victim works. Unaware employees can get easily duped by this type of email.

spear phishing

  • Whaling

Cybercriminals often want the biggest catch—the whale. Whaling is more targeted as it attempts to dupe senior executives, such as CEOs and CFOs.

Phishing Protection: Company’s Actions

Phishing attacks constantly threaten the survival of companies. Therefore, companies must invest in the form of phishing protection.

Awareness Training and Simulations

Because employees are often the unfortunate targets of phishing, they should learn how phishing attempts are executed by knowing the basics of phishing detection.

For example, Cyber Sierra offers employee awareness training with simulation exercises that help employees distinguish suspected phishing emails and messages and how to react to these threats accordingly.

Through training, employees learn how to recognize malicious links and attachments easily.

Anti-Phishing Software

However, phishing detection should be independent of employees.

Companies must invest in anti-phishing software that could examine emails and websites that go through the company’s system. Through this, employees can be warned before opening any email or URLs. Some highly-advanced anti-phishing software can prevent a phishing email from entering the company’s inbox.

5 Best Phishing Protection Solutions: How to Protect Yourself Against Phishing Attacks

Cybercriminals have become more competent, and an email’s security tools are only sometimes dependable in filtering suspicious messages.

Thus, it is always essential to add extra layers of protection through targeted anti-phishing solutions. 

Know how to spot a phishing attack.

Prevention remains the best medicine, and the same rule applies in cyberspace.

Cyber Sierra advises that employees know how to spot a phishing attempt to evade the company’s potential financial and data loss. 

According to a 2021 report, phishing attacks tend to have high success rates when targets have low awareness about common cyber threats and anti-phishing protection solutions.

know how to spot a phishing attack

Make sure that your computer’s security software is updated.

Up-to-date security software ensures essential components are present to protect the computer and system from phishing-related threats like malware.

Use multi-factor authentication.

Cyber Sierra recommends multi-factor authentication—the process of undergoing two methods to validate the identity of a user. Phishing attackers will usually subvert and compromise an account to steal information.

Thus, multiple ways to authenticate the user reduce potential unauthorized access.

Think before you click, especially about clicking on pop-up ads.

When browsing, pop-up ads are common occurrences targeted for advertising. However, cybercriminals may use legitimate websites and insert malware into pop-up ads.

Often the pop-up message warns the user of a system problem and presents a downloadable tool to repair it. Downloading the app gives cyber criminals access to your computer.

Notify the IT department immediately if you suspect a phishing attack.

If a suspected phishing attempt is detected, Cyber Sierra strongly suggests notifying one’s IT department as soon as possible to prevent further compromising of the computer.

IT professionals can conduct an analysis of the extent of the attack and can present advice on how similar phishing incidents can be prevented in the future.

protect yourself from phishing

Next Steps

No business is safe from phishing scams. 

Nevertheless, consistent monitoring and acting quickly can stop phishing attempts even before they occur. 

To help you achieve assured protection, we at Cyber Sierra offer the best anti-phishing tools, software, and other threat protection solutions. We are an emerging tech company based in Singapore that provides cybersecurity tools and cyber insurance. We have an extensive range of products for attaining security compliance and solutions. Check our current plans to know which service is customized to your company’s needs.

  • Employee Security Training
Srividhya Karthik

Srividhya Karthik is a seasoned content marketer and the Head of Marketing at Cyber Sierra. With a firm belief in the power of storytelling, she brings years of experience to create engaging narratives that captivate audiences. She also brings valuable insights from her work in the field of cybersecurity and compliance, possessing a deep understanding of the challenges and pain points faced by customers in these domains.

Find out how we can assist you in completing your compliance journey.

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Employee Security Training

A Guide to Cyber Hygiene Best Practices

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Picture this scenario: Your organization’s network has fallen victim to a breach, resulting in the compromise of your valuable customer information. As if that wasn’t distressing enough, you suddenly uncover that your personal email account has been unlawfully accessed. In a single moment, both your professional aspirations and personal endeavors are thrown into disarray.

How would you respond in such a situation? It’s probable that your reaction wouldn’t be favorable. When a hacker manages to breach one device, they gain potential access to all aspects of your online presence. That is precisely why practicing good cybersecurity hygiene is crucial for both individuals and businesses.

In this article, we will delve into the significance of cyber hygiene and its role in enhancing your online security. We will explore various measures and practices that can be adopted to bolster your defenses against cyber threats.

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What is Cyber Hygiene?

Cyber hygiene is a set of best practices that individuals and organizations can embrace to safeguard themselves against cyber threats. Its fundamental objective is to shield user accounts, data, and systems from potential attacks that may jeopardize their security. By adhering to cyber hygiene principles, individuals and organizations can fortify their defenses and minimize the risks associated with online vulnerabilities. 

This includes:  

  • Regularly updating software and operating systems, 
  • Using strong and unique passwords, 
  • Avoiding suspicious links and emails, and much more. 

 

What Are the Components of Cyber Hygiene?

Cyber hygiene encompasses a range of practices and habits that effectively safeguard users against threats like phishing and malware. The following components are integral to maintaining cyber hygiene:

  • Monitoring systems and databases
  • Managing user access
  • Protecting sensitive data

Let’s look at these in detail.

 

the Components of Cyber Hygiene

1. Monitoring systems and databases

Monitoring systems and databases regularly for unusual activity or access can help identify potential vulnerabilities or threats. This includes reviewing logs and reports as well as analyzing any unusual activity.

2. Managing user access

An organization must control user access to sensitive data to ensure that only authorized individuals can access it. 

This includes implementing strong authentication measures such as two-factor or multi-factor authentication and regularly reviewing and updating access permissions so that the organization can better manage user access. 

3. Protecting sensitive data

Organizations should protect sensitive data by implementing appropriate technical measures, such as encryption and access controls. This includes protecting data at rest and in transit through the use of encryption technology. It is also important that this data be regularly backed up in case a cyber attack causes loss or damage.

This will allow the organization to restore its data and continue operations without significant disruption.

 

Benefits of Cyber Hygiene

The benefits of cyber hygiene are numerous and extend to both individuals and organizations. Here are some of its key benefits:

  1. Improved security
  2. Mitigation of financial losses
  3. Preservation of reputation and trust
  4. Future-proofing against emerging threats
  5. Regulatory compliance

Let’s look at them one by one.

 

Benefits of Cyber Hygiene

1. Improved security

One of the most essential benefits of cyber hygiene is improved security. A well-executed cyber hygiene program will help organizations

  • Identify and address security gaps,
  • Reduce the attack and
  • Heighten the difficulty for attackers to compromise their systems. 

This is because many of the best practices in cyber hygiene or design reduce risk by making an organization’s infrastructure more secure overall.

For example, creating a patch management system that updates software to prevent vulnerabilities can help reduce the number of exploitable flaws in your systems.

2. Mitigation of Financial Losses

Cybersecurity incidents can result in substantial financial losses for individuals and organizations. In fact, on average, cyber crimes result in losses that amount to 2.5% of the global GDP.

That’s why it’s essential to implement practices like,

  • Changing passwords,
  • Updating software, and
  • Enforcing policies that require users to practice good password hygiene

All this can help reduce the risk of data breaches, cyber-attacks and other security incidents.  

3. Preservation of Reputation and Trust

A cyber attack can have a significant impact on an organization’s reputation and trust. A breach of privacy or the leaking of sensitive data can result in a loss of confidence from customers and a drop in sales. 

Implementing best practices like encrypting data at rest, restricting access to confidential information, and having strong password policies can help prevent breaches that could result in loss of reputation or trust.

4. Future-Proofing Against Emerging Threats

Cyber threats are continually evolving, with new types of attacks and vulnerabilities emerging regularly. 

A robust cyber hygiene program helps organizations stay ahead of these threats by regularly evaluating and updating their security measures, ensuring they are prepared to defend against new and emerging risks.

This proactive approach to cybersecurity can save organizations time, money, and resources in the long run, as they will be better equipped to prevent or mitigate the impact of future attacks.

5. Regulatory Compliance

The regulatory landscape surrounding data protection continues to evolve, with stringent laws and regulations being enforced worldwide. This is especially true in the financial services industry, where data protection is a top priority for compliance.

Organizations that do not comply with these regulations can face significant penalties and reputational damage, which can result in lost business opportunities.

A robust cyber hygiene program helps organizations stay ahead of these laws and regulations by regularly evaluating their security measures to ensure they are compliant with new laws and standards as they emerge. This proactive approach to cybersecurity can save organizations time, money, and resources in the long run, as they will be better prepared when new regulations come into effect.

 

Best Practices of Cyber Hygiene for Businesses

The best practices of cyber hygiene for businesses include:

  1. Regularly updating software and operating systems
  2. Implementing strong password policies
  3. Educating employees about cybersecurity risks
  4. Establishing a comprehensive cybersecurity policy
  5. Conducting regular security audits
  6. Implementing a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)
  7. Creating an incident response plan
  8. Ensuring endpoint protection

Let’s look at these best practices in more detail.

 

Best Practices of Cyber Hygiene for Businesses

 

1. Regularly updating software and operating systems

According to a study by Ponemon Institute, 60% of data breaches were linked to unpatched vulnerabilities. 

This is because many organizations either do not regularly update the software and operating systems in their networks or do not have a comprehensive patching strategy. It’s important that you take care of this security issue by implementing regular updates for all your devices. 

When a new software package is released, it usually includes security patches that help protect against known vulnerabilities. 

If your organization isn’t automatically updating its software, you risk exposing your network to cyber criminals who could exploit these vulnerabilities.

2. Implementing strong password policies

Businesses should enforce strong password policies, requiring users to create unique, complex passwords that are changed regularly, as over 80% of hacking-related breaches happened due to weak/stolen passwords.

Here are some best practices for creating strong password policies:

  • Passwords should be at least 10 characters and include a mix of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols. 
  • Don’t use words that can be easily guessed (e.g., your name, username, etc.) or have been used in previous hacks of other companies databases. 
  • Use different passwords for each account—don’t reuse the same password for multiple accounts.

Additionally, multi-factor authentication (MFA) can provide an extra layer of security for sensitive accounts and systems.

3. Educating employees about cybersecurity risks

Employees should be trained to recognize and avoid common cybersecurity threats, such as phishing emails, suspicious links, and social engineering attacks. 

For example, employees should be taught why they should avoid clicking on links in emails that erroneously appear to come from their company or its vendors. And how they should check the sender’s email address and verify if it matches those listed on the company’s website before opening any attachments or clicking on links in that email.

Businesses can make this easier by implementing security awareness training programs that provide the tools and knowledge necessary to help employees stay safe online.

Cyber Sierra has a comprehensive employee security training module that includes multiple counter phishing campaigns that simulate phishing attempts. Talk to us to know more about our employee security training program. 

4. Establishing a comprehensive cybersecurity policy

A clear, comprehensive cybersecurity policy should outline the roles and responsibilities of employees and the procedures and protocols to follow in case of a security incident. This policy should be regularly reviewed and updated to stay current with emerging threats and industry best practices.

This will ensure your organization has the resource and knowledge to identify cyberattacks, and the best practices to respond to security incidents.

5. Conducting regular security audits

Regular security audits can help businesses identify potential vulnerabilities and areas for improvement in their cybersecurity posture. This will allow you to identify weaknesses and take proactive measures to fix them.  

Security audits can be conducted by people who are experts in the subject of security and how to use it properly. The results will help businesses improve their cybersecurity practices, thereby making them less susceptible to cyberattacks.

Cyber Sierra’s threat intelligence feature can help you run vulnerability scans and conduct penetration testing periodically. It also has a continuous control monitoring feature that flags security gaps and makes suggestions to remediate them as well. 

6. Implementing a Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB)

A cloud access security broker (CASB) is a software solution that can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud. It offers visibility and control over how employees use SaaS applications, including Office 365. It also provides security controls for these applications such as data encryption, malware protection, user authentication, and more.

A CASB can also help enforce your company’s security policies. It provides better visibility and control over the data in cloud-based applications by authenticating, encrypting, detecting loss of sensitive information (e.g., PII or PHI) and preventing malware infections within those apps.

7. Creating an Incident Response Plan

There have been many high-profile cyber attacks on corporations in recent years, such as the Colonial Pipeline Ransomware Attack (2021), T-Mobile Cyber Attack (2021), and SolarWinds Hack(2020). So, while you do everything to build your cyber security moat to protect your business, it is equally important to develop and implement incident response plans to deal with cyber attacks and incidents.

A solid incident response plan, therefore, is a must for any organization. This plan should include steps to take if an incident occurs, who’s responsible for certain tasks and how long it should take to complete each step.

8. Ensuring Endpoint Protection

Endpoint protection is a very important part of your overall security strategy, but many organizations fail to implement it properly. You must know what’s happening on each endpoint, who has access and which applications are installed.

Most businesses provide their employees with Internet-connected devices, such as laptops and mobile phones, so they can access the corporate network. While it may be tempting to overlook endpoint devices, businesses should ensure that these computers have appropriate protections in place—such as antivirus software, firewalls, and encryption—to keep data secure.

 

Best Practices of Cyber Hygiene for Individuals

For individuals, there are several steps you can take to help protect yourself from cyberattacks. Here are some tips:

  1. Use strong, unique passwords
  2. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  3. Keep your software and devices up-to-date
  4. Be cautious with public Wi-Fi
  5. Be vigilant against phishing and social engineering attacks

Let’s look at each of these in more detail.

 

Best Practices of Cyber Hygiene for Individuals

 

1. Use strong, unique passwords

Create strong, unique passwords for your online accounts, and change them regularly. A Verizon study found that 81% of hacking-related breaches are caused by stolen or weak passwords.

Avoid using easily guessable information, such as your name, birthdate, or common words. Consider using a password manager to help you generate and store secure passwords.

2. Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA)

Whenever possible, enable multi-factor authentication (MFA) for your online accounts. MFA adds an extra layer of security by requiring additional verification, such as a code sent to your phone, fingerprint, or facial recognition.

This extra step helps prevent unauthorized access to your account.

3. Keep your software and devices up-to-date

Regularly update your software, operating systems, and devices to help protect against known vulnerabilities. Enable automatic updates to ensure your devices always run the latest security patches.

It is also essential to stay on top of security updates for all your software, including operating systems and applications.

4. Be cautious with public Wi-Fi

Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for sensitive tasks like online banking or accessing sensitive data. If you must use public Wi-Fi, use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your connection and protect your data from potential eavesdroppers.

5. Be vigilant against phishing and social engineering attacks

Learn to recognize and avoid phishing emails, suspicious links, and social engineering attacks. Do not click on links or download attachments from unknown sources, and always verify the legitimacy of a website before entering your login credentials or personal information.

 

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, the best way to keep your data safe is to practice good cybersecurity hygiene and be aware of the potential threats to data security. It is important to remain vigilant against cyberattacks and data breaches, as the consequences of losing your information could be devastating. Even if you do not feel like a “high-value target” for hackers, it is still important to take precautions to protect yourself from cybercriminals.

However, cyber hygiene is not a one-time effort but rather an ongoing process that requires constant vigilance and adaptation to the ever-changing landscape of cyber threats. Follow these steps, and you’ll be well on your way to protecting yourself from hackers and other bad actors.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the importance of cyber hygiene?

Cyber hygiene is essential for protecting personal and organizational information from cyber threats. Implementing and maintaining a set of best practices can help individuals and organizations reduce their risk of cyber attacks, protect sensitive data, and preserve their reputation with customers/stakeholders.

2. How can businesses improve their cyber hygiene?

Businesses can improve their cyber hygiene by implementing best practices to protect sensitive data and reduce the risk of a cyber attack. These include:

  • Regularly updating software, including programs for antivirus protection, firewalls, and operating systems.
  • Locking down user accounts with strong passwords (at least eight characters with a combination of letters and numbers)
  • Educating employees about cybersecurity risks and how to avoid them
  • Regularly testing their networks for vulnerabilities (using a third party if necessary) and patching any security holes that are discovered.   

3. What can individuals do to maintain good cyber hygiene?

To maintain good cyber hygiene, individuals can undertake several proactive measures to protect their online security. Here are some essential practices:

Strong and unique passwords: Create strong, complex passwords that are unique for each online account. Avoid using easily guessable information and consider using a reliable password manager to securely store and manage passwords.

Two-factor authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA whenever possible to add an extra layer of security. This requires a second verification step, such as a unique code sent to a mobile device, in addition to a password.

Regular software updates: Keep all devices and software up to date with the latest security patches. Updates often address vulnerabilities that hackers may exploit.

Awareness of phishing attempts: Be cautious of suspicious emails, messages, or links. Avoid clicking on unfamiliar or unsolicited attachments or providing personal information unless you are certain of the source’s legitimacy.

Secure Wi-Fi and network connections: Use encrypted Wi-Fi networks and avoid connecting to public or unsecured networks when handling sensitive information. Ensure your home network has a strong password and a secure encryption protocol.

Regular backups: Back up important files and data regularly to an external hard drive, cloud storage, or both. This protects against data loss in case of ransomware attacks or device failure.

Social media privacy settings: Review and adjust privacy settings on social media platforms to control the visibility of personal information and restrict access to your profile.

Safe browsing habits: Exercise caution when visiting websites and downloading files. Stick to reputable websites and avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading files from untrusted sources.

Educate yourself: Stay informed about the latest cyber threats and security practices. Attend online security awareness training, read reliable sources, and follow trusted cybersecurity experts for guidance.

 

  • Employee Security Training
Srividhya Karthik

Srividhya Karthik is a seasoned content marketer and the Head of Marketing at Cyber Sierra. With a firm belief in the power of storytelling, she brings years of experience to create engaging narratives that captivate audiences. She also brings valuable insights from her work in the field of cybersecurity and compliance, possessing a deep understanding of the challenges and pain points faced by customers in these domains.

Find out how we can assist you in completing your compliance journey.

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Employee Security Training

Ransomware

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Ransomware is defined as a type of malicious software designed by threat actors to block access to a computer system until a sum of money is paid.

Threat actors include individual hackers, hacker organizations, government entities, and terrorist organizations.Over the last few years, ransomware has become a major cybersecurity threat to companies and people alike.
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According to SonicWall, there were around ~600 million ransomware attacks in 2021! One of the prominent cases of ransomware was the attack on Colonial Pipeline in Texas, US which led to a severe crunch in gasoline supply in 18 states in the US.

Given the rapid rise of ransomware, here’s a short explainer of how it works:

  • The threat actor infiltrates network security and looks for systems that are vulnerable or directly exposed to the public internet.
  • Subsequently, the vulnerabilities and the protection level of the system are analyzed to see what type of code would stay undetected and breach the system.
  • Malicious software is installed on the system which stays dormant for a period of time until it gets executed.
  • Upon execution, the malicious software encrypts a large number of files in the system. The owner of the system would not be able to access the files without decrypting the files.
  • Malicious software displays a message on the system stating the ransom required to release the files. The ransom is usually paid in cryptocurrency.
  • The owner of the system pays the ransom to the threat actor and the threat actor sends a decrypting tool to access the files again.

How to Protect Yourself from Ransomware:

Install the latest software and firmware updates
Installing the latest software and firmware updates ensures that there are minimal vulnerabilities and better detection of malicious software.

Back up important data online:
Backing up your data regularly will allow you to revert back to a safe version of the a system without malicious code. However, the limitation of this is that you would not know when the malicious software was installed as it could have stayed dormant for days or months before being executed.

Use modern security solutions that are updated regularly:
Using the latest security solutions vastly increases the likelihood of detecting malicious software which can be blocked from being installed on the system.

In the event you are a ransomware victim, here are a few options to explore:
1. Isolate the affected system and consult experts on the next step
2. Secure existing backups of data and software
3. Change all your passwords linked to that system

What is Ransomware and How Can I Protect Myself against it?
As the name implies, ransomware actually refers to malicious software that is designed to block access to a computer system until the ransom is paid. In a typical ransomware scenario, the attacker demands a form of payment before releasing access to critical software containing valuable information and managing important processes.

Common ransomware attacks include:

  • Sending a phishing email with an attachment and taking over the victim’s computer and demanding a ransom to restore access
  • Exploit security gaps to infect computers without the need to trick users
  • The attacker threatens to publicize the user’s sensitive data unless a ransom is paid

What should you do?
1. Keep your operating system patched and updated
2. Install antivirus software
3. Be very careful about admin privileges and limit that strictly
4. Back up your files
5. Invest in cyber insurance

  • Employee Security Training
Srividhya Karthik

Srividhya Karthik is a seasoned content marketer and the Head of Marketing at Cyber Sierra. With a firm belief in the power of storytelling, she brings years of experience to create engaging narratives that captivate audiences. She also brings valuable insights from her work in the field of cybersecurity and compliance, possessing a deep understanding of the challenges and pain points faced by customers in these domains.

Find out how we can assist you in completing your compliance journey.

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Employee Security Training

Reporting A Data Breach

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Data breaches occur in various manners and the specific definition of a data breach varies from company to company.

Please refer to your Company’s Information Security Policy for details on what the firm defines as a data breach and how to escalate/respond to it. Here, we cover general information about a data breach and steps you can take to report it.
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What is a Data Breach?
Conventionally, people think of hackers, who use complex tools to access company systems and extract data, in relation to a breach. However, any unauthorized access to your company’s data may constitute a breach. Some examples include:

  • Employees leaving the company with sensitive information and no prior authorization.
  • A database with personal information of customers being available publicly (with no prior consent of customers)
  • Emailing company or customer information to the wrong party
  • Unauthorized access by cyber threat actors (aka hackers), who exfiltrate data and use it wrongfully with no consent from the company or its customers.

Notice that some breaches relate to company information, while others to personal data. You have an obligation to report both.

How can I report a data breach, and to whom should I report this?
Please note, based on your country of operation, reporting a data breach may be legally mandatory. The best ways to be sure of your responsibilities are to:

  • Refer to the cyber laws of the countries your company has operations in
  • Check with your IT team or your Company’s Data Protection Officer (DPO)
  • Visit the regulatory authority’s – typically Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) or its equivalent – website to learn of your responsibilities. Example – A tool like this, from the Singapore Government’s PDPC, is a relevant reference.

Generally, authorities get involved when the personal information of individuals is compromised. The best first step is to escalate any breach internally to your Management, who can then decide on appropriate next steps.

  • Employee Security Training
Srividhya Karthik

Srividhya Karthik is a seasoned content marketer and the Head of Marketing at Cyber Sierra. With a firm belief in the power of storytelling, she brings years of experience to create engaging narratives that captivate audiences. She also brings valuable insights from her work in the field of cybersecurity and compliance, possessing a deep understanding of the challenges and pain points faced by customers in these domains.

Find out how we can assist you in completing your compliance journey.

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Safe Browsing Habits

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Many of us spend significant time on the internet for work and leisure.

This makes internet browsers a potential target for cyber attacks as well as information farming for advertisers and data brokers.
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To ensure a safe, privacy-preserving internet experience, there are a few best practices that we can keep in mind as listed below:

4 Safe Browsing Habits:

1. Update your browser’s privacy and security settings:
Almost all modern browsers have a section to update the privacy and security settings. These settings correspond to having controls over browsing data, safe browsing practices, and managing security keys among other options.

2. Block pop-ups:
Pop-ups in the milder form are mostly invoked to redirect traffic to an inappropriate website or farm the user’s data. In some cases, the pop-ups also lead to potentially downloading malware on the user’s systems. Hence, it’s generally a good practice not to allow pop-ups as a default option.

3. Avoid suspicious websites:
Modern browsers have in-built capabilities to identify websites that are potentially suspicious or shady. However, it’s important to exercise extra caution when navigating sites that seem suspicious. Hence, be extra wary of websites that aren’t running on HTTPS or have their SSL Certificates expired.

4. Keep the browser updated:
Most browsers have the option to have it updated automatically. It’s advisable to keep the option of automatic updates to be on as it minimizes the possibility of a breach happening because of potential vulnerabilities in the older versions.

  • Employee Security Training
Srividhya Karthik

Srividhya Karthik is a seasoned content marketer and the Head of Marketing at Cyber Sierra. With a firm belief in the power of storytelling, she brings years of experience to create engaging narratives that captivate audiences. She also brings valuable insights from her work in the field of cybersecurity and compliance, possessing a deep understanding of the challenges and pain points faced by customers in these domains.

Find out how we can assist you in completing your compliance journey.

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