Cyber Hygiene

Strengthening Your Cyber Defense: The Vital Importance of Cyber Hygiene

Chris Swagler | November 28th, 2023


In an ever-evolving digital landscape, where headlines often highlight cutting-edge technology and the latest software innovations, it’s easy to overlook the fundamental principles of cyber hygiene. Yet, this foundational aspect of cybersecurity remains the bedrock of defense against a staggering 98% of cyberattacks. It involves the implementation of practices such as zero-trust principles and the prompt application of security patches. Surprisingly, despite their effectiveness, many organizations still struggle to adopt and utilize these essential security measures correctly.

Take zero trust, for instance. The “Microsoft Digital Defense Report 2022” uncovered a disheartening fact: 93% of ransomware recovery efforts revealed inadequate privilege access controls and lateral movement restrictions, a clear contradiction to the zero-trust principle of least-privilege access. However, the silver lining is that it is never too late to introduce basic security hygiene measures within your organization. This article explores three vital components of security hygiene that you might be overlooking.

  1. Phishing-Resistant Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) – When correctly configured, multi-factor authentication (MFA) stands as a formidable barrier against cybercriminals. These threat actors often seek easy targets, and MFA raises the entry barrier by necessitating knowledge or circumvention of multiple passwords or verification methods. Remarkably, MFA has the potential to thwart 99.9% of account compromise attempts.
The key to MFA’s effectiveness lies in its ease of use for users. Options like device biometrics or FIDO2-compliant factors such as Feitan or Yubico security keys offer frictionless MFA experiences. Moreover, MFA should be strategically applied to safeguard sensitive data and critical systems. Rather than enforcing MFA for every interaction, organizations should consider conditional access policies that trigger two-step verification based on risk assessments, alongside features like pass-through authentication and single sign-on.
  2. Modern Anti-Malware Solutions – Extended detection and response (XDR) tools play a pivotal role in identifying and autonomously blocking threats, including malware attacks. They provide timely insights to security operations teams, enabling them to respond to threats with greater agility.
Embrace security automation by implementing sensors that automate, correlate, and consolidate findings before relaying them to an analyst. The objective is to equip security operations analysts with relevant information for swift alert triage and response. Streamlining alert prioritization systems, along with automating common administrative processes and security workflows, can enhance overall security.
To defend against threats across all workloads, integrate comprehensive prevention, detection, and response capabilities, including XDR and security information and event management (SIEM) functionalities. Be vigilant about legacy systems that might lack security controls, and closely monitor for any attempts to disable security features.
  3. Data Protection and Governance – In today’s hybrid work environments, where data is accessed from diverse devices, apps, services, and locations, fortifying data security is paramount. A defense-in-depth approach offers robust protection against data theft or leakage. Start by gaining complete visibility of your entire data landscape, encompassing on-premises, hybrid, and multi-cloud environments. Accurate data labeling and classification are essential to understanding data access, storage, and sharing.
Managing insider risk involves examining user behavior concerning data and potential security incidents. Implementing stringent access controls can deter unauthorized saving, storing, or printing of sensitive data. Furthermore, with data governance evolving towards business teams taking responsibility for their data, organizations must establish a unified data governance approach across the enterprise. This proactive approach to data management enhances data security and democratizes data access.

In the realm of cybersecurity, simplicity does not equate to vulnerability. When correctly implemented, basic security hygiene practices can significantly enhance your overall security posture. So, take heed and reinforce your cyber defense with these essential measures. After all, when it comes to cybersecurity, a strong foundation is your first line of defense against evolving threats. At SpearTip, we offer cybersecurity awareness training that educates individuals and organizations about best cybersecurity practices and provides the knowledge and skills necessary to protect their systems and data from cyber threats. Our training covers topics such as password security, phishing scams, social engineering, malware, data protection, and network security. By providing cybersecurity awareness training, organizations, and their employees can better understand the risks of the cyber landscape and develop impactful cybersecurity practices that can reduce the likelihood of cyberattacks. Cybersecurity awareness training is an essential component of any comprehensive strategy to protect sensitive information, such as personal data, financial information, or intellectual property, and to prevent data breaches, system downtime, and other negative consequences that can result from cyberattacks.

If your company is experiencing a breach, call our Security Operations Center at 833.997.7327 to speak directly with an engineer.


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