The most important cybersecurity lessons of 2021

The most important cybersecurity lessons of 2021

The previous year saw many significant cybersecurity events. From ransomware attacks to large-scale data breaches, New Jersey companies and individuals learned some hard lessons about how to protect themselves online. Here are some of the biggest and most important cybersecurity lessons we have learned from 2021:

Remote endpoints need to be secured

It's now clear that remote work will continue to exist after 2022. According to Gartner, the hybrid work model will shift from being a temporary, force majeure response to a regularly seen arrangement across various industries. Gartner analysts anticipate that by 2023, 75% of businesses that choose this model will outperform their rivals due to the need for seamless, robust, and secure services for a remote or hybrid workforce.

However, controlling devices and keeping them up to date become more difficult when employees are working remotely, since system administrators cannot use standard IT management tools to access them. Tasks such as timely software patching of workers' gadgets, managing software, and delivering high-quality IT support for remote workers are all critical. Inability to provide such capabilities may allow attackers to take advantage of vulnerable equipment, shadow IT, and downtime, leading to costly consequences.

Adopting zero trust is essential

Many large-scale attacks these days are made possible by weak passwords. Cybersecurity experts warn about an increase in password spray assaults aimed at privileged cloud accounts and high-profile users such as C-level executives. This is why it’s important to assume a zero trust mindset, which assumes that any and all users or apps can be the source of a threat.

In this security strategy, trust is established based on the user identity and context. Information, such as the user’s location, the security settings of the endpoint the user is connected to, and the app or service they are trying to access, are all taken into consideration. If all of these variables are consistent with accepted parameters, access will be granted. And in a zero trust setup, access isn’t granted in one fell swoop — users will be asked to provide access information at every step deemed necessary by the system administrator.

Manual patches put the system at risk

It’s important to patch updates as soon as possible to secure devices from hackers. Unfortunately, many small businesses have trouble installing patches in a timely manner. Because many smaller organizations don’t use or don’t know how to integrate automated patch management, the patch installation process becomes a difficult, time-consuming, and error-prone task.

Organizations must focus on automating patch management across remote and office-based endpoints in 2022. If integration and/or deployment is an issue due to lack of training or infrastructure, seek assistance from a reputable systems integration provider. It's critical to guarantee that IT personnel can readily and correctly identify missing patches and deploy them to all machines effectively.

People are the weakest link

Despite the fact that numerous specialists had recognized the need for cybersecurity awareness training even before the pandemic, recent data revealed this worrisome trend: human error is behind 85% of data breaches. Exploiting COVID-19-related paranoia was one particularly successful tactic for cybercriminals in 2021, and one common way they did this was by sending ransomware via phishing emails.

In order to maintain security in the year ahead, businesses will need to implement a more effective approach to cybersecurity education. Companies must make it clear how cyber safety procedures benefit both the organization and the workforce, and employees must understand that their personal information and livelihood are at risk if they do not follow cybersecurity protocols. Training should be customized for each worker's job and include everyone from frontline employees to top executives. It should be mandatory and conducted frequently.

Anyone can be struck by ransomware

Ransomware is a global problem, and no user is immune to the threat. In fact, ransomware has been growing in popularity in recent years as businesses across the globe experience its repercussions. It’s therefore critical that your security team has an effective response plan in place if the company’s defenses fail.

This plan should detail which cybersecurity tools include ransomware prevention, protection, or recovery capabilities and who will be responsible for responding to incidents. Furthermore, the strategy outline steps for:

  • Identifying any intrusion
  • Analyzing the size and scope of the breach
  • Controlling the threat by disconnecting infected machines from the network
  • Assessing if the infection is ransomware or a potential pre-ransomware attack
  • Removing the infection from the system

It's critical to test the plan on a yearly, quarterly, and even monthly basis to ensure that ransomware-infected systems can be restored from backups in a timely manner.

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