Headlines about devastating cyberattacks have not been uncommon lately – and they seem to be increasing in frequency, hence the need to protect against hacker attacks, because both the number of security breaches and their severity will continue to increase. It turns out that many of the attacks could be avoided. This makes security breaches a particularly bitter pill for those organizations that fall victim to them.
One conceivable explanation why cyber-attacks are happening more and more often and have ever more serious consequences is that hackers’ approaches are now so mature that the defense can no longer keep up. This may be true in individual cases, but the reality is usually not that cybercriminals use newly developed, futuristic malware to break into previously unassailable networks and leave all experts at a loss.
Much more often, security breaches happen simply because of low-threshold security vulnerabilities. This is both good and bad news: good in that most attacks can be avoided fairly reliably if appropriate security solutions are used. Bad because these attacks are just that: preventable. This makes security breaches a particularly bitter pill for those organizations that fall victim to them. Time and effort are needed to plan and protect against hacker attacks
If an organization is to avoid the financial consequences and reputational damage of a large-scale cyberattack, it must make investments in security a high priority. Organizations spend a lot of their budgets on increasing the speed and efficiency of their data centers, which is undoubtedly an important and not negligible area. However, when looking at the numerous cybercrimes of today, it becomes clear that this should not be done at the expense of security.
In this article, I’d like to share my top 10 IT security best practices based on a recent data breach analysis. These methods can be implemented in any data center and go a long way towards minimizing the vulnerability to attacks.
Step 1: Think about physical security to protect against hacker attacks
The increasing spread of cloud and hybrid IT technologies brings with it new concerns in the area of data protection: When data is no longer stored on local servers, the security of the data center becomes an even more complex matter. But in the midst of all that has been said about privacy issues, it is important to remember the threat posed to a data center by internal security breaches.
The 2017 SolarWinds Federal Cybersecurity Survey Report found that “malevolent internal employees” were responsible for 29 percent of security incidents in government agencies. Such threats seem to be increasing in frequency. It is all the more important to prepare for the possibility that internal employees disclose protected data. Otherwise, it could have dire consequences: In 2016, Sage, an English accounting and HR software company, lost personal data on employees in 280 companies. The attacker was able to use an internal company login, hence the need to protect against hacker attacks
The first line of defense against threats from malicious internal workers should be to carefully control physical access to the data center using security and surveillance technologies. Video analytics tools such as motion tracking and facial recognition are now widely available and can be used in conjunction with video surveillance to identify predefined situations within the data center that could potentially create security issues.
Step 2: Monitor the output power to protect against hacker attacks
One of the most effective ways to spot problems is to identify the power output in the data center if you want to protect against hacker attacks. If you know the “Normal state” of your environment, you will immediately notice any deviations from these values. This enables potential security breaches to be identified as early as possible and problems to be resolved according to a previously defined response plan.
Step 3: To protect against hacker attacks, work with security advisors
It is possible that internal IT staff may not have the capacity or experience to implement the necessary security programs. Transfer the responsibility for these tasks to external security consultants so that your data center is protected by a professionally developed security strategy that has been adapted to the individual requirements of your company.
With an external staff dedicated solely to testing, reviewing, and analyzing data security risks, internal staff can spend more time managing data center performance and improving the end-user experience.
Step 4: Invest in SIEM Solutions
SIEM tools automatically recognize unusual behavior patterns within the data center and react accordingly. After an incident, the tool automatically determines the underlying cause of the problem before correlating this information with previous events to identify patterns or trends. With this knowledge, your data center will never be repeatedly victimized by incidents from the same source.
Step 5: Manage device configurations
To protect against security risks, it is important to periodically review device configurations to ensure that they are current and comply with the latest industry guidelines and standards. In addition, configurations should be backed up through regular archiving and the use of effective change controls, such as the SolarWinds Network Configuration Manager.
Step 6: Train all your end users
The SolarWinds 2016 U.K. IT Security Survey found that inadequate end-user training is one of the top three causes of increasing corporate vulnerability to cyberattacks. Untrained internal end-users often expose security vulnerabilities that can lead to serious data breaches. Incidents such as opening malicious phishing emails, DDoS attacks, or problems caused by personal devices that are connected to corporate networks can all be avoided through appropriate training.
To help ensure that end-users no longer pose a threat to data security, executives should encourage their IT departments to train the rest of the organization on basic security principles. Increased awareness of the vulnerabilities they may be responsible for and the damage they could cause helps end-users understand the benefits of prevention in their daily routines. Measures such as reporting suspicious e-mails or checking with the IT department before installing software are both simple and highly effective.
Step 7: Implement a proactive patch management strategy
You should always be proactive, not reactive, about security. This is especially true of the patch management strategy. The following tips can help you keep patching your software proactive:
- Start your patching operations with the most commonly used systems.
- Have a contingency plan ready in case something goes wrong during a patching process.
- Don’t patch all of your systems at the same time. Deploying multiple critical patches at the same time could cause network problems. Then figuring out the cause and fixing the problem can be a difficult and tedious task.
- After patching, keep monitoring updated systems in case any problems arise.
- Test your patches in a controlled environment before deploying them.
- Identify the impact of cyber threats on unpatched software and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Your data center may not have the staff or resources to implement all of these measures. The good news is that there is patch management software that can automate and simplify the process of patching software in such a case.
Step 8: make use of web filters
Ransomware sites are easy to fall into – and often with devastating consequences. As soon as a computer is infected with ransomware, the entire network can be blocked and the security of your data is at the mercy of the hackers. To reduce the likelihood of such a scenario, IT pros should regularly block known ransomware sites using web filters – either manually or with a third-party software tool.
It should be noted that flexible working is now an integral part of many work environments and devices are often connected to private networks in which no security filters are active. That can quickly lead to a person inadvertently landing on an unblocked ransomware site. This ability makes even more of the importance of training end-users to avoid security issues.
Step 9: Check your anti-malware software
There’s a reason this action isn’t called “buy anti-malware software” – after all, you should have it installed by now. However, when it comes to protecting against malware, it’s just as important to periodically check that you still have the best possible software for the specific needs of your network.
In addition, protocols should be active to ensure that this software is never accidentally deactivated – an all too common situation for which no one would like to be responsible. Therefore, it is advisable to set up Group Policy Control that prevents end-users and subordinate administrators from disabling anti-malware software.
Step 10: Create accountability
About how to protect against hacker attacks, responsibility is key when it comes to following the previous nine best practices. By giving individuals responsibility for specific tasks, you create responsibilities in your data center. In this way, you can ensure that everyone does their best to live up to their individual responsibilities and at the same time work towards the common goal of protecting the data center from security threats.
With these methods, you cannot guarantee that your data is 100% protected against all threats. When all of these measures are implemented as part of a comprehensive security strategy, however, you will strengthen your defenses and reduce the likelihood of a data breach – and help your business successfully withstand many cybercrime threats.
From the discussion so far regarding how to protect against hacker attacks, we can see that the number of security breaches and their severity is continuing to increase. This makes security breaches a particularly bitter pill for those organizations that fall victim. If an organization is to avoid the financial consequences and reputational damage, it must make investments in security a high priority. “Malevolent internal employees” are responsible for 29 percent of security incidents in government agencies, according to a report. In 2016, Sage, an accounting and HR software company, lost personal data on employees in 280 companies. The attacker was able to use an internal company login.
The SolarWinds 2016 U.K. IT Security Survey found that inadequate end-user training is one of the top three causes of increasing corporate vulnerability to cyberattacks. The good news is that patch management software can automate and simplify the process of patching software in such a case.
Ransomware sites are easy to fall into – and often with devastating consequences. IT pros should regularly block known ransomware sites using web filters. It is advisable to set up Group Policy Control to prevent end-users from disabling anti-malware software, for example.