The enterprise computing landscape is under constant attack from individual and organized cybercriminals. While ransomware attacks may have subsided a little in 2022, they are still a major problem for businesses in all industries. New and innovative phishing methods are being deployed by cybercriminals as they attempt to trick users into divulging login credentials or confidential information.

The following items are essential components of a viable and comprehensive cybersecurity posture needed to protect organizations and their valuable data resources.

Promote employee training and education

One of the most important steps any company can take to improve cybersecurity is to institute a policy that promotes continuous employee training and education. Cybersecurity threats are constantly evolving and present new challenges to organizations intent on protecting their computing environment. It takes vigilance for companies to keep up with the activities of motivated cybercriminals.

Multiple targeted types of education should be offered to employees and contractors who interact with systems that contain sensitive data. The kinds of training that should be made available include:

  • General cybersecurity education – This may include training that helps employees spot phishing attempts and avoid compromising sensitive information. New phishing techniques appear regularly and justify regularly scheduled training on how to not become a victim. General education can also address issues such as mobile device security, using strong passwords, and the need to close connections to enterprise systems when not in use.
  • Data handling training – Companies should have data handling policies in place that guide users in how to handle sensitive or high-risk information. These policies restrict who can use sensitive data and how it can be transmitted within and outside of the organization. Employees need to understand and abide by the policies to minimize the chance of data being lost or compromised.

Implement multi-factor authentication

Cybercriminals need to gain entry to a company’s systems in order to initiate an attack. Keeping them out should be one of an organization’s primary goals. Multi-factor authentication is one way to minimize the chances of systems being accessed by unauthorized individuals.

Multi-factor authentication requires more than just login credentials to gain access to computer systems. An additional authentication method, usually some type of verification code sent to a registered mobile device, is required when logging into a system. Multi-factor authentication prevents cybercriminals from gaining access with stolen or accidentally disclosed credentials.

Develop reliable backup and disaster recovery plans

Enterprise data needs to be reliably backed up using either on-premises or cloud backup solutions. Backups protect against data loss or ransomware attacks that make it impossible to access data from its primary location. With a set of system backups, it’s possible to quickly restore business operations when it is required.

Data backups alone are not sufficient to protect a business from an environmental or human-initiated disaster. Organizations need to develop disaster recovery plans that address all of their business-critical systems. Each one should have an individual recovery plan that can be rapidly executed when the need arises. Multiple plans can be consolidated into a business continuity plan to address the needs of the company as a whole.

Introduce automated data loss prevention solutions

Automated data loss prevention (DLP) solutions are becoming more prevalent as a defense against sensitive information being lost or mishandled. Most organizations handle different types of data that need to be handled differently. DLP solutions address these handling requirements and can automate many of the actions that are necessary to protect data resources.

Modern DLP solutions can classify data on the fly as it is created or ingested into a computing environment. Once the information has been classified, its use is based on the company’s data handling policies which provide it with the level of protection warranted by its sensitivity and value to the organization. Protection can involve actions such as restricting access to specific data elements and prohibiting them from being transmitted in unencrypted form.

An automated DLP tool can enforce an organization’s data handling policies while minimizing the impact on business productivity. For example, a DLP tool can be configured to automatically encrypt sensitive data before it is transmitted, eliminating any potential human oversight and maintaining its privacy and security.

Perform penetration testing

Penetration testing is an excellent way to uncover an organization’s cybersecurity vulnerabilities that need to be addressed. It looks at a computing infrastructure from the perspective of cybercriminals attempting to gain unauthorized access. The results of a penetration test can point to specific vulnerabilities that need to be eliminated to secure the environment.

The testing should be conducted by a competent team of ethical hackers with an understanding of the current techniques employed by cybercriminals. It may be an internal team or that of a trusted third party. Testing should be conducted regularly to address the evolving nature of cyberattacks.

Implement enhanced internal data movement monitoring

Unfortunately, the accidental or deliberate actions of insiders are the cause of many data breaches. Monitoring internal data movement and lateral user movement throughout the infrastructure is key to minimizing these types of data breaches.

Monitoring can be a component of a DLP solution, where questionable data access requests are flagged for investigation by cyber security teams. Reliable monitoring can detect abusive use of elevated privileges that are often used by malicious insiders to gain access to sensitive or high-value data.

Get Help From An Experienced Partner

Companies with extensive IT budgets and dedicated cybersecurity teams can often address the initiatives detailed above with in-house resources. Many organizations do not have this luxury and require the competent assistance of an experienced partner to protect their computing environment and the data it contains.

VAST can fill the role of experienced partner and address many of the preventative cybersecurity actions companies need to protect their IT environment.  Their offerings include cloud-based backup as a service (CBaaS) and disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS) that gets your company back up and operational quickly in the event of a disaster. VAST also provides managed data protection that ensures your environment is protected by the most modern and effective techniques. Get in touch with VAST today and see how they can help protect your business in 2023.