9 Cybersecurity Lessons We Learned in 2021

As the business world shifts, with digital and remote work quickly becoming a prominent part of the work environment, cybersecurity takes center stage. We have reached a new normal. Companies and employees will likely not be returning to offices and traditional work arrangements. Remote work is here to stay.

In the face of all these changes, we have uncovered some important cybersecurity lessons that we have seen highlighted over the past year. These lessons will play a critical role in the safety and security of businesses moving forward. They can help you prepare your organization to thrive, even with a remote workforce.

Let’s take stock of this past year and the lessons we can all take home to study as we prepare for the kickoff of 2022.

Cybersecurity Lessons We Can All Take Home After This Year

Lesson 1: An organization is people, not a location or a building

Businesses started to realize that their organizations did not revolve around a particular location or building when their workforce suddenly began to function largely from home. However, many have overlooked the implication of this shift when it comes to cybersecurity.

Employees have proven that they are trustworthy and able to effectively work from home. For the most part, they make good choices. However, as a business leader, you need to continue to educate your people and make sure your lessons are relevant in this new world of remote work.

A lot of our old out-of-the-box teaching needs to be disregarded. Think about the lessons that used to be pressed upon employees, such as “Don’t write your password on a sticky note and leave it on your desk.” With people working from home, this becomes irrelevant. Instead, you need to teach lessons such as, “You have a phone connected to your business network. Do not scan random QR codes you find.” Review how to educate and engage employees regarding cybersecurity to maximize your effectiveness.

Lesson 2: Endpoints of networks are now distributed at people’s houses

Building off the emergence of remote workers, you need to realize that every employee’s house is now an endpoint, and each endpoint provides a potential vector for attack and offers a way to get into the network.

To combat these breaching attempts, your employees need cybersecurity training. You must restrict information to those who absolutely need it to do their jobs. You can liken your defenses to building a fort – if someone rams hard enough on your border wall, it will eventually be breached. The key is having more defenses behind it, along with an alert system to let you know as soon as a breach occurs so that you can muster your forces to repel the attack.

Lesson 3: Attacks are on the rise, not just on businesses, but on supply chains

We have also seen, this past year, the incredible prevalence of supply chain attacks. The SolarWinds attack provides an excellent example. With these types of attacks, the nefarious actor does not need to target you specifically. Instead, they target someone you use or work with, and you get caught in their multicompany breach. With SolarWinds, for example, the criminals got into the program and then went looking for available hacking opportunities.

As a business owner, you need to recognize the potential for this type of breach and prepare to monitor for them and defend yourself as soon as possible.

Lesson 4: You can do everything right and still get breached

This can feel like a defeatist attitude, but it is important to see it as a warning and not a sign of giving up. You can do everything right, but still experience breaches. You need to know how to detect these problems so that you can take immediate action to repel the criminals. You might not be able to stop the breach completely, but you can make sure you minimize the damage.

To accomplish this goal, you have to be aware of what’s going on. A member of your organization needs to pay attention to cybersecurity and trends in breaches. This point person needs to notice message boards, connections, and the news so that they can bolster security and detect breaches as soon as they occur. Make the window of opportunity minuscule for the criminal.

Lesson 5: Perform exercises around cybersecurity with your team

Practice is the key to success, not only on the sports field but also in cybersecurity training. You want to run exercises with your employees where people pose hypotheticals to each other and then determine how the organization will respond. These cybersecurity simulations take the business through a variety of different situations and help prepare the group for the unexpected.

It is critical that modern businesses understand that everyone needs to serve as cybersecurity today. It can no longer be viewed as simply the realm of a few specialists in the IT department. A company-wide effort to protect the business, with the cybersecurity team leading the way, is the path forward.

Running through this type of drill can prepare the team members for unexpected situations and help them move confidently towards brand protection.

Lesson 6: Ransomware hasn’t gone away

People talked about ransomware nonstop during 2020, but that doesn’t make it any less important moving forward. Businesses need to remember that it hasn’t gone away and remains a threat.

Businesses need to have a plan for facing ransomware attacks. Knowing precisely what your organization will do when faced with a threat will play a critical role in your ability to disrupt the attack quickly and minimize the damage the criminals can accomplish.

Lesson 7: Get everyone on board with your incident plan

In our new divergent world, people often work in their own spheres and with their own priorities. It is important, however, for organizations to make sure that all the team members, especially organizational leaders, know and understand the incident plan. Having an incident plan will do little good if organizational leaders immediately start doing their own thing when a breach occurs. In this situation, you essentially wasted your time coming up with such a plan.

Review the plan with those who need to take action in the event of a breach. Make sure they know what needs to be done and why. This will help ensure they remember when the time arises.

Lesson 8: Social engineering is more prevalent than ever

Business leaders also need to realize that social engineering is even more prevalent than it was before. People just want to talk to others. Without the social outlet of the office, people can be easily persuaded to start chatting with people who randomly call them. This creates an unfortunate situation where employees can be easily manipulated into releasing critical information that can lead to the cracking of passwords or other sensitive information that allows the hackers to access the network.

Lesson 9. Multifactor authentication – use it every time you can

If you have the option to use multifactor authentication, use it. Employees need to make sure they use every opportunity available to them to protect their passwords and access to sensitive devices, platforms, and networks. Multifactor authentication provides a strong layer of defense against criminals, particularly when paired with a unique password for every login you have.

Cybersecurity and Protocol: How You Can Better Protect Your Business Moving Forward

Moving forward into the new year, we want our clients to understand these lessons, build their cybersecurity education, and implement them into their own cybersecurity preparedness strategy. Learn how you can keep your network strong and secure with our network support services. We can also help you develop your disaster recovery and business continuity plan so you are prepared for any business disruption.

If you want to take your security to the next level, schedule a consultation with us at Protocol Networks, one of the top IT companies in Massachusetts. We will help you see how you can better protect your business moving forward.

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