When you think of the word hygiene what comes to mind? Taking a bath, brushing your teeth, washing your hands, combing your hair, etc? Cybersecurity needs the same daily care as your body, it needs regular checkups that will help you know if everything is working as it is supposed to.
Cyber hygiene refers to the practices that users of computers and networks take to maintain their system health and improve their online security. These practices, if done regularly, will help conserve the efficiency of your hardware and software, keep your security protocols updated, and neutralize or mitigate cyberattacks.
Humans: The Weakest Link
Long ago were the days where cybersecurity relied solely on the IT Department. Experience has taught us that everyone who uses a computer or device connected to the internet is at risk of becoming the next victim of a cybercrime. In fact, with remote work being the new norm, during 2020 we saw an increase in social engineering attacks, a trend we expect will keep growing this year.
As cybersecurity professionals, part of the job is to educate every member of your organization on the best practices for cybersecurity and help them understand how they play an important role in keeping hackers away. Remember the weakest link in this field is the human factor – 95% of cybersecurity breaches are caused by human error.
It doesn’t matter how big or small your organization is. If you have 1, 10, or over 10,000 employees you are still at risk of becoming a victim of cyberattacks. Symantec revealed that the smaller the organization the higher the risk. Statistics demonstrate that businesses who have less than 250 employees are currently those with the highest targeted malicious email rate at 1 in 323.
Common Risks of Not Having a Cyber Hygiene Routine
As we live in an interconnected world, where everyone is constantly using a device connected to the internet, the risks of getting attacked are higher. We have to be more aware of the maintenance each hardware, software or online application needs on a regular basis. If not, we can easily become a victim of hacker, malware or a breach.
The most common risks of not having a cyber hygiene routine include:
- Loss of misplacement of data: hard drives and cloud services are especially vulnerable to hackers causing information to be misplaced or even lost forever.
- Security breaches: as we mentioned before, social engineering attacks such as phishing, whaling and pretexting are getting more popular and they can lead anyone to reveal sensitive information, grant hackers access to systems, and a reputation crisis.
- Out of date software: software vendors constantly offer updates to patch vulnerabilities, not updating them as soon as they come out can make your system more vulnerable to attacks. This also happens with antivirus and other security software.
That being said, not having a security system in place, employees fully trained to spot a suspicious email or website, and constant checkups of your cyber hygiene may cost you your organization’s data, savings, and reputation.
The year 2020 was a challenging year in terms of cybersecurity. Since the pandemic started, the FBI reported a 300% increase in reported cybercrimes, and the cost of data breach is close to $137,000. And 2021 is not going to get easier.