To maintain their health and well-being, people are practicing personal hygiene routines on a regular basis. These routines are continuous and never completed. By taking proactive measures, people aim to protect their health against potential diseases and disorders.
Analogically, organizations must also define a routine of proactive cybersecurity practices to identify and eliminate critical vulnerabilities and protect sensitive data. Cyber hygiene is a set of regular practices that intend to keep systems, networks, sensitive data, and users secure against cyberattacks, data breaches, and data loss.
Good cyber hygiene practices help organizations locate unmanaged assets, gain visibility into the software installed, safeguard against ransomware and malware, avoid phishing attempts, audit administrative privileges, protect customer data, and achieve regulatory compliance. As a concept, cyber hygiene has increased in significance since the mass adoption of remote and home office practices or “WfA (Work from Anywhere”) after Covid-19 pandemic.
Embracing a cyber hygiene strategy resembles a person building new habits to work safer. Much like personal habits, organizations have cultures. Cyber hygiene routines must be a shared responsibility that all departments and users take part in. Thus, good cyber hygiene practice requires every stakeholder’s participation. This can be done by incorporating cyber hygiene strategies into organizations’ cybersecurity culture. Such strategies can include practices like using the right cybersecurity tools, keeping applications and software up to date, using MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication), implementing ZTNA (Zero-Trust Network Access), creating organization-wide password policies, and developing a backup strategy.
Despite the increase in cybersecurity spendings, organizations continue suffering from cyberattacks. With varying attack vectors targeting different components of organizations’ IT (Information Technology) environment, such as hardware, software, and applications, lack of cyber hygiene can result in various problems. Some of the common cyber hygiene problems include:
Security Breaches: Data is one of the most valuable assets of modern organizations. Failing to protect sensitive data, organizations often end up with data theft and expensive ransomware payouts. Poor vulnerability management and weak security policies can expose organizations to security threats like phishing, malware, and viruses.
Data Loss: When local and online storage are not regularly backed up and maintained, important data can be lost through hardware failure, data corruption, improper configuration, and theft.
Software Vulnerabilities: Software and applications should be updated regularly, ensuring that the latest security patches and the latest versions are in use across the organization for all kinds of applications and software. Otherwise, out-of-date programs may have vulnerabilities that attackers can exploit. Poor patch management and old or out-of-date software are a common cause of data breaches at organizations of all sizes.
Following cyber hygiene best practices, organizations can leverage their cybersecurity culture. Providing guidelines to security teams, these practices must be implemented across all the users. After identifying the cybersecurity gaps in an organization, a security awareness program can be implemented to support all stakeholders with their security skills.
Utilizing the right Cybersecurity Tools:
Finding the right tool is an essential part of cyber hygiene to ensure network and data security. Some of the cybersecurity tools include:
Stepping up to Secure Authentication:
Requiring MFA for all logins can reduce the risks arising from compromised credentials. MFA offers an extra protection layer to organizations’ cybersecurity. Biometric authentication methods like facial recognition and fingerprint scanners can also provide secure and robust authentication. As password-based threats continue to rise, organizations should go beyond username/password and consider strong passwordless multi-factor authentication solutions.
Performing Regular Backups:
Backing up the data to a secondary location regularly can protect organizations against accidental mistakes, natural disasters, and cyber incidents, such as malware as well as physical and logical damage to the storage devices. To avoid such events, organizations must develop a data backup strategy and ensure that the data backups are protected against unauthorized access through air gaps, immutable storage, and encryption. To explore more, read our Market Compass on Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery by KuppingerCole analyst Mike Small.
KuppingerCole – Cybersecurity Leadership Summit 2022
If you are looking for more specific and comprehensive guidance in cyber hygiene and other sessions around cybersecurity or want to meet the real experts in the fields of identity and cybersecurity, you should definitely not miss the Cybersecurity Leadership Summit that will take place in Berlin between 8 -10 November 2022.
Join the panel “Cyber Hygiene Best Practices: Why does it Matter?” session by Warwick Ashford (KuppingerCole Analysts), Boris Beuster (E.ON), Noam Green (Cyolo), Fabian Libeau (Axonius), and Manual Garat Loureiro (Booking.com).
Understand why “Cyber Hygiene is the backbone of an IAM strategy” in Manual Garat Loureiro’s (Booking.com) cyber hygiene and awareness session.
Drs. Jacoba C. Sieders (Independent Expert) will deep dive into “Exploring the Impact of Cybersecurity Regulations in the Digital World” in a cyber resilience session.
CSLS 2022 brings together cybersecurity executives, analysts and top CISOs to help delegates drive decision-making within their organization and to better understand fundamental issues such as buzzword-hunting, process complexity and cyber-threat mitigation.