In a world where data breaches occur every 39 seconds, you may be wrong if you think you are safe. Hackers are roaming everywhere to gain malicious entry into your network and steal critical information. Without adequate online security, you are highly likely to face cyber attacks and lose vital data.
There are so many threats to data and networks. From phishing and ransomware to DDoS, your organization is always at risk of attack. This article takes you through online security definition, best practices, and more. Ideally, it’s a guide on how to achieve a safe online environment. Read on!
Online Security Definition: What Is It?
Online security is the practice of defending data, networks, servers, computers, and electronic systems from malicious attacks. This practice, also known as IT security or cybersecurity, involves using various processes and technologies to protect IT components from unauthorized access. When these security protocols are followed, cybercriminals find it hard to attack or compromise data.
Online security applies everywhere there is an exchange or storage of data and information. Hackers and cybercriminals target electronic devices and systems to acquire and compromise data for malicious purposes. Therefore, all businesses and organizations need a secure online environment. Remember to verify your email and use the correct tool for spam checkers.
Type of Online Security
Following the online security definition, it’s essential to understand the various types of internet security. IT security applies in multiple contexts, from regular devices to cloud architecture. Some of the categories of internet security include;
This focuses on keeping applications free from threats. Since compromised software could allow unauthorized access, application security offers the ultimate protection. Application security begins from the design stage until the software is deployed.
This involves securing your overall network from intruders. Your network includes cloud, software, Wi-Fi, and interconnected hardware components. Network security targets all threats that could compromise these components.
System security includes developing and implementing security strategies to business systems. Systems are the facets of accessing information such as CPU, storage disks, memory, software programs, cloud architecture, etc. All business data is stored in systems that should be secure from any form of attack.
Types of Online Threats
Online threats are very sophisticated and hard to detect. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the cost of cybercrime will exceed $6 trillion in 2021. FBI reports that cyber-attacks increased by 273% in the first quarter of 2020. Status pages provide vital information about the services you use and might provide users with helpful recommendations.
Some of the most common online threats include;
Phishing is when hackers send emails with embedded malware to unsuspecting individuals while disguising themselves as trusted sources. Phishing emails have hidden malware and links to insecure sources. Masquerading as a true identity convinces users to think that those emails are actually legitimate.
Most phishing attempts target login credentials and credit card details. Hackers make emails sound authentic while they aren’t. Mostly, these emails coincide with actual events such as important announcements or news. When users click these emails, they are tricked into performing activities that lead to an attack.
Ransomware is an attack and locks data until a ransom is paid. It encrypts data files making them inaccessible. When a ransomware attack occurs, hackers demand hefty payments to release the data. This often leads to massive losses as organizations struggle to meet these demands.
Ransomware attacks are devastating and can quickly paralyze the activities of an entire organization. Some attackers opt to compromise the data when organizations cannot pay the demanded ransom.
Since the pandemic started, many organizations have been forced to adopt the work-from-home model. Lots of companies and businesses have moved their operations to the cloud to facilitate remote access to data and collaboration in the workplace. The massive cloud migrations have experienced lots of misconfigurations that expose the cloud network to cyber threats.
Cybercriminals target cloud systems without adequate protection to steal data. Most of them end up planting ransomware or coordinating DDoS attacks in these systems.
A Trojan horse is malware embedded in a computer system to coordinate attacks internally. Malware is software disguised as legitimate. Attackers use these Trojans to coordinate attacks such as manipulating and damaging data as well as spying.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is an attack that overwhelms a website’s capacity limits by sending false traffic or requests. DDoS attacks are coordinated in a way to take down an entire service. Mostly, DDoS attacks target service providers such as healthcare, communication, logistics, eCommerce, and more.
Now you know the online security definition and the various types of threats, but how can you prevent them?
Online Security Best Practices
Having a secure IT environment is critical. It’s essential for business continuity and data security, and above all, upholding your organization’s reputation. Here are tips on how to maximize online safety;
Endpoints are the devices used to access your systems. An endpoint could be a mobile device, PC, storage disk, or any device connected to your networks. Mostly, these devices have minimal security protection and provide a soft spot for attackers. Employees are highly likely to open insecure links or access unsafe websites. Build your website using a safe web design tool.
Endpoint protection involves a wide range of practices, from enforcing application control to implementing device policies. To protect your endpoints, you can implement policies that guide users on device usage. This helps prevent employees from using practices that can expose your network to risk.
Layered Security Approach
Layered security is the use of multiple security layers to protect your systems and networks. Layered security forms a deep perimeter that’s hard to penetrate even with sophisticated means. Also known as defense-in-depth, this strategy employs multiple strategies to slow and hinder any attacks.
If an attacker manages to breach a single security layer, your data remains secure, as the other layers make it hard for hackers to penetrate. Applying multiple layers ensures hackers cannot reach the core of your data.
A firewall is an internet security approach that protects your network by filtering traffic and blocking unauthorized access. To block malicious access, firewalls scan and analyze all incoming traffic. When suspicious or unsecured sources are detected, the firewall blocks them immediately.
Next-Generation Firewalls (NGFW) are the best for data protection. They add more functionality to the traditional firewalls and fend off even the most sophisticated attacks. They combine features such as deep packet inspection, anti-virus, and encrypted traffic inspection.
This process involves creating and archiving your essential data. In case the original data is lost, operations do not seize as you can rely on the backed data. In case ransomware attackers comprise your data system, you can avoid ransomware by retrieving the backup files.
You should always backup data that cannot be placed easily. Financial, customer, and even personal data should be backed as cybercriminals mostly target them. Since business data changes frequently, it’s best to set automatic backups, so you don’t have to do them manually.
24/7/365 Network Monitoring
Monitoring both your network and systems is key to a secure online environment. Real-time monitoring is a continuous process that keeps an eye on malicious threats and downtime. With proactive monitoring, you are less vulnerable to cyber attacks. It helps detect instances of unauthorized access, unusual traffic, and system failures in real-time.
With real-time monitoring, it’s easier to identify the areas that need patching and make adjustments to achieve optimal performance and security.
Data encrypted in the cloud is more secure than that stored in hardware components. Cloud provides for advanced protection, making it hard for cybercriminals to launch attacks. Files are encrypted with secret keys that hackers cannot fathom. Unlike in-house storage, the cloud architecture is safer and more reliable.
To secure your online environment, think of cloud migration. Cloud data is stored in multiple locations, which makes it difficult to lose. Since cloud data centers and servers are decentralized, they are safer than disks and drives.
Disaster Recovery Plan
A disaster recovery plan is a systematic approach on how to respond to an unplanned data loss. It is a set of actions that an organization ought to take to restore operations following a cyber attack or any disaster.
A data recovery plan involves the following elements;
- Recovery point and time objectives
- Personnel roles
- Software and hardware inventory
- Sensitive data and files
- Recovery procedures
- Crisis communication plan
You can have as many recovery plans to cater various disasters. It minimizes downtime and possible delays that may hurt your company. With a disaster recovery plan, you don’t have to make last-minute decisions that always tend to be wrong.
Use Strong Passwords and Two-Step Authentication
This is a simple procedure to secure access to your files. Using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication helps deter cybercriminals from accessing your sensitive information.
Passwords need to be strong and unique. Also, desist from saving passwords in devices as they can leak to cybercriminals in case of loss or theft.
The ideal password should be long, exceeding ten characters. Also, it should combine digits and letters, both in upper and lowercase. Such passwords are difficult to hack.
Besides having strong passwords, it’s vital to have multi-step factor authentication for all logins. This provides an extra security layer just in case the hacker manages to bypass the password.
Securing Private Networks
Wi-Fi is a convenient way to access the internet, but it can also lead to data leakage. All Wi-Fis should be secured with the proper encryption to fend off intruders.
If your employees work from home, implement a policy preventing them from sharing their Wi-Fi with outsiders. Also, ensure they don’t log into your systems using public Wi-Fi as it could be insecure, and criminals can easily steal your data.
Stay Ahead in Online Security
It’s essential to have a secure online environment. It ensures all your data is safe from cyber threats. All the above practices will help protect your business from destructive cyberattacks. As long as you follow these tips, your data will always be safe.