The Importance and Best Practices of Cyber Hygiene

The Importance and Best Practices of Cyber Hygiene

Cyber hygiene means the steps businesses use to secure computers and other devices to enhance and maintain online and system security. It refers to setting security-centric habits and mindset. It helps businesses and customers mitigate all potential online breaches. Companies have to make it part of everyday routine. It is a fundamental principle of cyber hygiene.

Cyber hygiene is all about maintaining good habits around cybersecurity. It makes companies and individuals stay ahead of online security issues and other cyber threats. Cyber hygiene has become part of personal hygiene nowadays. Carrying out both regularly ensures health and well-being.

Building a routine around cyber hygiene prevents cybercriminals from conducting security breaches or stealing sensitive business information. It also helps businesses and customers keep all operating systems and software updated.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic, cyber hygiene has increased in relevance because increased remote work globally has led to a rise in cybercrimes.

Common Cyber Hygiene Problems

A few problems which cyber hygiene can address are:

Security breaches: These include threats from phishing, hackers, malware, and viruses.

Data loss: Online cloud storage and hard drives with backup are vulnerable to corruption, hacking, or other issues and cause losing data.

Out-of-date software: Software that is outdated and needs an update can make devices in organizations vulnerable to online attacks.             

Older antivirus: Security software which is not up to date will not be effective in protecting businesses against the latest cyber threats.

Why Cyber Hygiene is Important

It keeps computers, networks, and data safe from all the threats, such as ransomware, malware, and other attacks. This is obvious of the Importance of cyber hygiene. Besides protecting the infrastructure and machines, users and clients rely on organizations to keep their data safe. More prominently, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) needs some organizations to remediate all critical vulnerabilities as soon as possible to secure sensitive data.

Most network breaches happen when bad actors exploit security gaps. This results from organizations overlooking the security gaps as part of the current security hygiene. Due to this, businesses need to assess all the current cyber hygiene approaches properly.

It can include regularly inspecting the entire network and all hardware, software, and applications. More importantly, organizations should asses all the access and login protocols regularly. From this point, the business can ensure a routine cyber hygiene procedure that provides proper security and maintenance.

Because correctly maintained systems run more efficiently, maintenance is essential. Besides, a lack of proper care can lead to outdated programs, fragmentation, and other issues. Having a routine maintenance procedure helps companies detect potential risks earlier and mediate them before any problem arises.

Cyber Hygiene Best Practices

Here are a few cybersecurity hygiene best practices. These best practices can help companies maintain comprehensive protection against ever-evolving cyber threats.

  • Create and enforce a cyber-hygiene policy.

Most importantly, companies should maintain a comprehensive cyber hygiene policy. It is a set of practices that help companies ensure regular safety checks, maintenance, and upgrades as needed. Documenting this policy and sharing it at a central location where all the relevant users can access it is helpful to implement it effectively. The policy document should include timeframes and all network assets for routine hygiene practices, including system updates, password changes, etc.

When it comes to online security, humans are the weakest link. Therefore, the document should include a constant user education policy as well. Various instructions on protecting personal devices, creating strong passwords, and identifying and reporting phishing attempts help maintain cyber security.

Organizations must ensure adequate compliance with policy regulations. All those involved in it should make it a habit. Organizations can also set calendar dates or alarms for specific dates like backing up data, virus scanning, and checking for security updates.

  • Use the Right Cybersecurity Tools

Right cybersecurity tools should be in place to keep data safe. It is like using soap to help water to remove gems from hands. However, all soaps are not good at removing rocks. Likewise, all tools are not equal in their quality. Businesses have to find the right tool to safeguard the network and data.

Tools to include in the security portfolio include:

  • Antivirus and antimalware software
  • A network firewall
  • Password protection
  • A central platform
  • Automation

Combining these tools will provide the best security for businesses to protect data, networks, and devices.

  • Establish Secure Authentication and Access Policies

It can be a start to having all users create a login and password. However, businesses should have a more strong authentication in place. It is more important to ensure that the users have strong passwords that no one can easily guess or hack. The password must be unique. It should contain at least 12 characters and must have numbers and symbols. It is also good to have both capital and lowercase letters. Passwords have to be changed every month or quarter.

Implementing multifactor authentication is a highly-effective security practice for safeguarding access. It involves users validating their identity via multiple factors, such as passwords, personal identification questions (e.g., mother’s maiden name), a specific device or token, or a biometric signal like a fingerprint.

Also Read: Supply Chain Security Tools Supporting High-Security Capabilities

  • Confirm endpoint protections

Modern-day networks have grown increasingly intricate, posing more significant challenges to their safeguarding. Due to the widespread practice of remote work practices, such as the “work from anywhere” concept, organizations must now protect networks and users beyond traditional office boundaries, encompassing all endpoints, home or hotel.

It is imperative to monitor partner networks integrated into your network and assess the security measures in place. It strongly establishes efficient endpoint security. Network segregation can mitigate potential damages in case of network compromise by a partner.

Employing a zero-trust network access practice is an effective way to secure a distributed network. With this framework, no device or user is presumed trustworthy, inside or outside the network. Every access request must undergo thorough authentication, and users can only access those assets necessary for their work.

  • Data backup

To prevent information loss in a security breach, backing up the data to a secondary location is recommended. It can include hard drives or secure cloud storage. Ideally, it is best practice to store the backed-up data offline, thus creating an air-gapped environment inaccessible from the internet. Depending on the frequency of data changes or updates, establishing a backup schedule is essential to minimize potential loss.

Summing Up

Cyber hygiene aims to maintain software and hardware’s essential health and security. It ensures the protection of it from threats such as malware. More importantly, if businesses practice cyber hygiene regularly, it will keep all the sensitive data safe and secure. Therefore, cyber hygiene needs routine and repetition to be effective. Cyber hygiene helps companies protect their assets effectively and avoid unexpected losses.

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