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Cybersecurity Best Practices: Strengthening Defenses to Mitigate the Risk of Cybercrime

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By Garry Singh Director – The Response Company

With almost every aspect of our lives revolving around the digital realm today, cyberattacks are at an all-time high. Especially after the global COVID-19 lockdown, cybercrimes have continued to skyrocket, with India experiencing an 18% increase in weekly attacks on average during the first quarter of 2023 compared to the same period in 2022, according to a report by Check Point. The report added that each company experienced an average of 2,108 attacks per week, with cybercriminals finding new and creative ways to exploit vulnerabilities at an individual as well as organisational level.

In addition to endangering people’s privacy, these illegal acts put governments, corporations, and communities at serious risk. Securing ourselves from threats and planned attacks, such as the large-scale 2017 ransomware attack WannaCry or sophisticated fraud schemes like the 2018 Fraud World Cup, demands resilient mitigation strategies that boost our defense against cybercrimes.

1. Educating and Raising Awareness:

Thousands of computers were attacked by the WannaCry ransomware outbreak in 2017, which encrypted files and demanded payment to get them decrypted. Due to their lack of understanding about ransomware and the significance of routine software updates, numerous people unfortunately fell prey to this attack. With knowledge being one of the most powerful tools in the battle against cybercrimes, it is becoming increasingly crucial to inform people and companies about potential risks, secure online behavior, and the value of cybersecurity. People can only recognise suspicious activity and take the necessary steps to lower the risk of such attacks by being up-to-date on mitigation techniques.

2. Strong Passwords and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA):

Cybercriminals launched a number of scams during the 2018 FIFA World Cup that were aimed at football enthusiasts. One common technique was phishing, in which phony websites collected login credentials of these unsuspecting fans by posing as trustworthy websites. These attempts at phishing could have been avoided by the victims had they kept their accounts secure by using strong passwords and MFA. The first line of security against unwanted access continues to be the usage of strong passwords with the risk of cybercrime risk drastically nose diving when using strong, one-of-a-kind passwords for each online account. Additionally, by prompting users to comply with several forms of verification, implementing Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) offers an additional layer of protection.

3. Regular Software Updates and Patch Management:

Cybercriminals frequently exploit prevalent vulnerabilities in software and reducing these risks consists of regular software updates and patch management. Software updates regularly published by developers aim to close security gaps, and systems that are not updated are vulnerable to exploitation. Similarly, the 2017 WannaCry ransomware also exploited a vulnerability in older versions of the Windows operating system. Since Microsoft had already provided a fix for this vulnerability months prior to the attack, the ransomware was able to easily infect computers that had not installed the patch.

4. Data Encryption:

Data encryption is an effective method that transforms sensitive information into unintelligible code, making it difficult for unauthorised parties to decipher. When data is stored or sent over networks, encryption prevents sensitive information from being misused by potential attackers.

5. Network Security and Firewalls:

Protection against cyber threats calls for safeguarding the network infrastructure. By monitoring incoming and outgoing network traffic and blocking invalid or suspicious connections, firewalls serve as roadblocks. Network security solutions also aid in identifying and preventing illegal access to sensitive data.

6. Regular Backups:

Creating regular backups of essential data is a crucial practice that can save individuals and organisations from data loss due to cybercrimes like ransomware attacks. If a system is compromised, having a backup enables restoring data without giving in to the hackers’ demands.

7. Incident Response Planning:

Having a well-defined incident response plan is essential for handling cyber threats efficiently. This plan outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a cyber-incident, ensuring a coordinated and effective response to minimize damage and recover quickly.

8. Insurance

There are multiple insurance product available to mitigate risks. A diligent decision making can bring lot of value to an org as well as individuals.

At a glance: Making the cyberworld safer with mitigation techniques

It is imperative that we take proactive measures to protect our businesses and ourselves against cybercrimes, which are a constant threat in this increasingly digital environment. Being informed, using MFA and strong passwords, updating software frequently, encrypting data, and implementing strong network security measures into place can ensure a significant improvement in our defense against cyber threats. We can respond rapidly to potential attacks by performing regular backups and putting in place an emergency management plan. One cannot emphasize enough the significance of cybersecurity and mitigation strategies as we continue to accept new technology and embrace this new online era. Let’s all do our part to make the cyber world a safer and more secure place for everyone.

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