Secure Your Business with Cybersecurity Awareness Month
Australians held their breath last month, captivated by the Matildas advancing to the semi-finals at the World Cup. We all watched in awe as their strong defence showed how structured routines are essential for success. Likewise, cybersecurity requires robust defence to protect your digital assets.
As you know, defenders block the opponent’s advances, intercept passes, and secure the team’s territory. In cybersecurity, firewalls, encryption, and intrusion detection systems act as the defensive line, intercepting and repelling cyber threats. Both domains demand strategy, teamwork, and constant vigilance to guarantee a successful outcome. In the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats, a solid defence is the goalpost that keeps our digital world secure.
While cybersecurity may appear daunting to the average person, it is not solely the responsibility of your IT department. Every employee has a part to play on the team like the Matildas. Each employee plays a part in preserving their company’s data integrity, not to mention their personal information.
As we observe Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October, it serves as a timely reminder that numerous strategies exist to protect our data. By adhering to fundamental cybersecurity principles, we can significantly enhance the security of our networks and provide a safer digital environment.
What is Cybersecurity Awareness Month?
Cybersecurity Awareness Month (CAM), is a global initiative dedicated to promoting cybersecurity education and awareness. Its mission is to empower individuals and organisations with knowledge and resources to fortify their defences against cyber threats.
Initially established as the U.S.-based National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, CAM swiftly gained international recognition.
This initiative is jointly led by two key agencies: the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). It fosters collaboration among diverse stakeholders. These can include government entities, industry leaders, and cybersecurity experts, all working together to raise awareness about risks and share best practices.
In Australia, the Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) promotes CAM. This agency is part of the Australian government’s commitment to fortifying cyber security and making Australia the safest place to interact online.
Theme for 2023
In its 20th year, CAM celebrates its journey by exploring the past and future of cybersecurity. This year’s theme reflects on the progress made and the challenges that lie ahead. CAM zeroes in on four pivotal cybersecurity best practices:
- Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA)
- Employing robust passwords and utilising password managers
- Regularly updating software
- Developing the ability to identify and report phishing attempts
Let’s explore these essential elements of maintaining strong cyber hygiene.
4 essential cyber hygiene practices you can’t ignore
At the heart of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, lies the emphasis on crucial cyber hygiene practices. In the same way, we prioritise daily routines like brushing our teeth and exercising for physical well-being, maintaining strong consistent online security is critical.
These exercises serve as the bedrock of a tough cybersecurity defence benefiting individuals and companies alike.
Implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Introducing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) adds a crucial security layer to all login processes. In most cases, a cybercriminal cannot breach an account fortified with MFA, even if they have the password.
Microsoft reports that MFA can stop 99.9% of attempted account compromise attacks, showcasing its effectiveness. With such a strong track record, it becomes imperative for everyone to employ MFA on all their logins without exception.
Robust passwords and utilising password managers
Passwords continue to be a pivotal element in safeguarding online accounts, even with the growing adoption of biometrics. It’s crucial to motivate your team to employ robust and unique passwords for every account, avoiding easy-to-guess details such as birthdays or names.
Your business can help establish password enforcement rules so that only strong passwords are accepted.
For example, your enforcement policy may require passwords to have:
- At least 12 characters
- At least 1 upper case letter
- At least 1 lower case letter
- At least 1 number
- At least 1 symbol
Regularly updating software
Outdated software exposes security vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can take advantage of. It’s essential to routinely update operating systems, applications, and firmware to guarantee the installation of the most recent security patches.
Automating updates offers an efficient way to ensure prompt installation. Employing endpoint device managers like Intune streamlines the process. They can elevate endpoint security, enabling companies to manage updates seamlessly across all employee devices.
Identify and report phishing attempts
Phishing attacks remain a significant threat to individuals and businesses. Equip your team with the skills to recognise phishing emails, suspicious links, and unsolicited attachments. Stress the importance of scrutinising sender email addresses and refraining from sharing sensitive information unless they can verify the recipient’s authenticity.
Additionally, extend phishing awareness education beyond emails. You should ensure employees understand that text message phishing is on the rise, and cybercriminals are also sending direct messages on social media.
Encourage employees to promptly report phishing attempts. Reporting not only alerts fellow employees to avoid potential traps but also equips your IT team to take swift action to mitigate the threat.
Do you need some help with your cyber hygiene?
Cyber Awareness Month (CAM) is a great opportunity to help your business refocus on cybersecurity and build awareness with your employees. Discover how we can support your Melbourne business in reducing security vulnerabilities and improving your resilience.
About the author
Yener is the founder and Managing Director of Intuitive IT. Prior to running his own business Yener worked for a number of corporate organisations where he gained invaluable experience and skills, as well as an understanding of how IT can complement and improve business outcomes.