How to protect your digital infrastructure from cyber attacks?
In today’s tech-savvy era, people use the internet to look for anything and do everything. Especially since the pandemic, a sudden hike was noticed in the number of people using digital mediums for working remotely, storing information, learning, buying things and paying for them. This drastic change has made the internet even more susceptible and attractive for cyber attacks and cyber crime.
A report by Malwarebytes found that at least 20% of managers they surveyed said that they had to face a cyber security breach in lieu of the remote working setup . Moreover, more than 25% of small businesses and enterprises have become the victims of cyber crime since 2020.
And the cyber-attack statistics aren’t going down in 2021 as well. By 2021 end, cybercrime is forecasted to cost the entire work more than $6 trillion and by 2025, the number is expected to go up to $10.5 trillion . With the acceleration in technology adoption, the need for protecting digital infrastructure has also increased exponentially. In 2022, the global information security market is expected to grow to $170.4 billion to help businesses cope with increasing cybercrime .
Here are some ways in which you can protect your digital infrastructure from cyber threats, breaches and attacks.
1. Implement best practices of cyber hygiene
Following are the basic cyber security measures to protect the digital infrastructure of your organization:
- Firewall: A firewall essentially acts as a digital barrier between the outside world and your organization’s digital infrastructure. It scans, analyzes and filters and traffic entering the system
- Anti-malware software: This is a type of software that’s designed to protect IT systems and personal computers from malware. Anti-malware software programs basically scan the devices to detect, prevent and remove malicious software
- Data encryption: Encryption is the process of encoding original data and information, known as plaintext, into an alternative ciphertext which can be decoded only by parties with authorization. Data encryption is useful for smart meters, smart grids and other Internet of Things devices
- Trust zones: You can also create areas with additional firewalls in your internal network in order to further secure sensitive information that might require added protection.
- Security Information & Event Management: An SIEM is basically a cyber security solution which helps companies recognize potential cyber security threats and cyber attacks by providing real-time security alerts. These software provide robust protection against malware and monitor access and activity across your organization’s network.
- Multi-factor authentication: refers to an electronic authentication method in which users need to provide 2 or more pieces of evidence for identity verification in order to gain access to a website or an app. You can consider requiring employees to provide evidences, instead of a password, when trying to enter a network or system
2. Build a cyber security team
According to research by ISACA, 61% of the people working in cyber security strongly believe their cyber security teams are understaffed. What’s shocking is that the cyber security skills gap will continue to increase and remain a big challenge, creating over 3.5 million jobs unfilled this year.
Hiring and expanding your in-house cyber security army is crucial. So, invest in young, millennial talent that have the relevant cybersecurity skills. A team, or even one individual, with the right skills in cyber security will help your organization focus on cyber health and keep your data safe.
3. Do not forget to secure your physical assets
As Operational Technology (OT) and Information Technology merge, neglecting physical security is a mistake no organization should make. Wind energy farms and solar farms usually have low security.
This is due to the geographic challenges associated in safeguarding these areas. However, devices and physical assets on these farms can often provide access to the network of the utility.
Therefore, safeguarding physical assets in such scenarios is crucial. Similarly, customer-facing assets such as smart meters or charging stations need to be properly secured in order to prevent cyber attacks, tampering or access to the network.
4. Cultivate a healthy cyber security culture
The 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 85 percent of cyber breaches involved some level of human element and 61% incidents occurred due to compromised or stolen credentials .
With increasing zero day and phishing attacks, organization systems and data is at a huge risk when even one employee downloads a file that might carry malware, fails to patch or update their device or shares their credentials with a cybercriminal.
Many organizations do not provide substantial training to their employees regarding their cyber security measures and some don’t even have stringent rules to protect their physical assets and digital infrastructure. This leads to cyber criminals taking advantage of the lack of protocols or human error in the system.
What companies need to understand is that it isn’t just your IT team who is responsible for cybersecurity. Every employee from each team should be trained on common attacks, vulnerabilities and cyber hygiene, reminded to secure and update their devices and briefed on trends in cyber crime.
Moreover, organizations need to develop concrete and efficient incident response plans and also encourage transparency by reporting any cyber attacks discovered in time to the government.
5. Encourage clear communication regarding cyber attacks
There are times when cyber vulnerabilities arise due to lack of clear communication as well as leadership. Here’s how these communication gaps regarding cyber attacks and vulnerabilities can be voided:
- Make sure there’s a centralized, well-trained cyber security team that’s recognized across your entire company
- Assign a ‘security champ’ in each unit who will be responsible for communicating and coordinating with the centralized team
- Create clear cyber security protocols that’ll be followed by every employee
- Bestow your cyber security team with the power to make decisions
- Keep briefing your employees, executives, managers and the board about the latest cybersecurity trends, vulnerabilities and priorities.
6. Regularly audit your digital infrastructure & assets
Your company’s digital infrastructure should be regularly audited to check that they’re not compromised by any potential cyber attacks or breaches. Make sure you audit and protect all the devices in your network, including Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD), mobile devices, third-party devices, IoT devices, smart technology, websites and networks, and other diverse hardware and software.
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 Malwarebytes (2020) “Malwarebytes Enduring from home – COVID-19’s impact on business security [Online] Available from: https://www.malwarebytes.com/resources/files/2020/08/malwarebytes_enduringfromhome_report_final.pdf [Accessed October 2021]
 Morgan, S. (2020) Cybercrime Magazine “Cybercrime To Cost The World $10.5 Trillion Annually By 2025” [Online] Available from: https://cybersecurityventures.com/hackerpocalypse-cybercrime-report-2016/ [Accessed October 2021]
 Contu, R., Kish, D., Canales, C., Deshpande, S., Kim, E., Gardner, D. (2018) Gartner “Forecast Analysis: Information Security, Worldwide, 2Q18 Update” [Online] Available from: (https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/3889055 [Accessed October 2021]
 ISACA (2021) “State of Cybersecurity 2021, Part 2 Threat Landscape, Security Operations and Cybersecurity Maturity” [Online] Available from: https://www.isaca.org/go/state-of-cybersecurity-2021 [Accessed October 2021]
 Verizon (2021) “DBIR 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report Reduce risks with insights from more than 5,250 confirmed breaches.” [Online] Available from: https://www.verizon.com/business/resources/reports/dbir/ [Accessed October 2021]