Don’t Let Hackers Sink Your Business: Top Cyber Security Tips
The maritime and logistics sectors, which form the backbone of global trade, are becoming increasingly entangled in a complex web of cyber threats that have evolved substantially between 2015 and 2023. To stay afloat, these sectors require actionable cyber security tips.
The cyber landscape has broadened to include not just ransomware attacks but also supply chain infiltrations, data compromises, and unauthorized access to customer networks. Industries such as healthcare and shipping have been especially targeted, witnessing a surge in the aggression level of these attacks.
- The shift towards remote work further exacerbated the situation. Cyber attackers are now exploiting vulnerabilities in home networks, often used by employees in the absence of more secure corporate infrastructure.
Such a shift has also led to a significant increase in phishing attacks and social engineering schemes designed to deceive employees into divulging sensitive information.
- On the regulatory front, compliance has become a non-negotiable issue. Organizations are grappling with a shortage of skilled cyber security personnel even as stringent regulations are being rolled out. Failure to comply results in hefty fines and puts your organization’s reputation at risk.
Cyber Security in Small and Large Businesses
Small businesses often have limited resources dedicated to cyber security, making them easier targets for attackers. However, the types of attacks they face are generally more opportunistic and less sophisticated. Larger corporations usually face more sophisticated, targeted attacks but have the advantage of dedicated cyber security teams.
Regulatory demands can vary based on the size of the business. While large corporations must often adhere to stringent data protection laws, smaller businesses may have more lenient requirements. However, it’s important to note that the regulatory landscape is evolving, with more jurisdictions enforcing rigorous data protection laws on businesses of all sizes.
Examples of Devastating Cyber Attacks
In 2020, the SolarWinds supply chain attack became a critical incident, impacting numerous businesses and governmental agencies. In this cyber attack, adversaries inserted malicious software into the SolarWinds Orion Platform. This update was then distributed to thousands of SolarWinds customers, compromising their systems on a massive scale.
Additional cyber attack examples include the following:
- In 2021, Microsoft disclosed a significant vulnerability in its Exchange Server software. The loophole allowed hackers to gain unauthorized access to numerous email accounts, leading to extensive data breaches.
- The Facebook data leak of 2021 is an instructive example of the scale and impact of cyber security lapses. Personal data from over 500 million Facebook users were posted online, including sensitive private information.
Cyber Security Tip 1: Implement Multi-Factor Authentication
The first cyber security tip is the implementation of Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), a cost-effective step in protecting your networks. For instance, a shipping company could implement MFA for all its cloud-based inventory management systems. This would mean that a staff member needs more than just a password to gain access – perhaps also a code sent to their mobile phone. This simple measure significantly reduces the risk of unauthorized access to critical shipping schedules and inventory data.
In high-security environments, such as those dealing with confidential shipping documents, biometric authentication like fingerprint or facial recognition can provide an additional layer of security.
Cyber Security Tip 2: Foster Awareness
The weakest link in your security chain is often your employees. However, 90% of leaders believe that increased employee cyber security awareness would help decrease the occurrence of cyber attacks. This could look like regularly engaging your staff in simulated phishing exercises designed to mimic common industry-related scams. Staff who fall for the simulated attack could be enrolled in further training, thereby continually raising the organization’s security posture.
“Organizations should send regular cyber security updates to employees, through emails or newsletters, and highlight the current threats, the best practices, and the changes coming to company policies and procedures.” – Hariharan KP.
Employees should also be encouraged to report any suspicious activity. You could set up an anonymous hotline or digital portal where employees can report any phishing emails or strange network behaviors.
As a CEO, you could demonstrate your commitment to upholding best practices and actioning cyber security tips by participating in this training. Your staff will often look to you as an example – be a good one.
Cyber Security Tip 3: Update Systems
Outdated systems are breeding grounds for attacks. Yet an alarming 50% of respondents push the ‘remind me later’ button once they receive an update notification, with the excuse that they are busy with other things. Routine updates and security patches will avert potential catastrophes, but only if organizations are disciplined and comprehensive in their approach and only if individuals consider these updates a priority.
“It is crucial to keep software and applications updated. If you’re not updating, you’ll miss out on the security patches and updates from your software provider and become prone to cyber attacks.” – Hariharan KP.
Cyber Security Tip 4: Develop Policies
Creating a company-wide cyber security policy is critical. For example, your organization could mandate that sensitive operational data only be accessed via company-approved devices. Such a rule can be part of a broader cyber security policy, which should be disseminated to all staff members for compliance.
As remote working becomes more prevalent, protecting these off-site environments becomes important, and a remote working cyber security policy is advisable.
“Secure remote work practices – how to work remotely for the organization – are important. This can cover the VPNs, the Wi-Fi networks, and company documents. A way of securely storing information has to be defined and put in place for remote workers.” – Hariharan KP.
Cyber Security Tip 5: Create an Incident Response Plan
A well-documented incident response plan is crucial. For example, in the event of a cyber attack disrupting a logistics supply chain, your plan should detail the immediate steps to take to secure data, inform affected parties, and restore services, minimizing both downtime and reputational damage.
If there’s a data breach, the speed and effectiveness of your response can make a big difference. It’s important to conduct regular cyber drills that simulate real-world scenarios and train your employees on how to respond quickly and effectively.
Cyber Security Tip 6: Monitor Regulations
With complex regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, non-compliance can result in painful fines. Regular staff training on handling customer data according to legal frameworks is essential; your employees should be made aware of regulations concerning the international transfer of goods, which can include cyber security mandates.
Cyber Security Tip 7: Back up Data
Regular data backups are a key component of a robust cyber security strategy. They act as a safety net in cases where critical data is lost due to ransomware attacks, hardware failures, or human errors. Automated backup solutions can incrementally store data in secure off-site servers.
For a shipping company that relies heavily on its customer database and logistics schedules, why not set up automated backups to occur at the end of each business day? This ensures minimal loss of critical data, regardless of when a cyber incident occurs.
Cyber Security Tip 8: Uphold Network Security
A secure Wi-Fi network is often the first line of defense against cyber attacks. Enable WPA3 encryption and use robust passwords to restrict unauthorized access to the network. Most importantly, separate your business network from the guest network to prevent potential intruders from gaining access to business-critical data.
Cyber Security Tip 9: Invest in Cyber Insurance
Investing in cyber insurance is another cyber security tip that helps businesses mitigate the financial impact of incidents. These policies can cover various aspects like data breach notifications, legal fees, and even ransom payments.
A case in point would be a logistics company that experienced a cyber-attack leading to a data breach. Their cyber insurance policy could cover the costs of notifying affected customers, thereby reducing the financial burden on the company while ensuring compliance with data protection laws.
Cyber Security Tip 10: Create Strong Passwords
Encouraging employees to use strong, unique passwords is a simple yet highly effective cyber security measure. Passwords should be a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters and should not include easily guessable information, such as names or birthdays. Doing so can prevent unauthorized access that might jeopardize sensitive information or customer data.
Cyber Security Tips for the Future
For CEOs in maritime and logistics, cyber security is shifting from a checklist item to a top priority. As the landscape evolves, key challenges include a talent shortage in cyber security and increasingly sophisticated threats like ransomware.
To adapt, Hariharan KP urges companies to consider cyber security tips, invest in talent and training, and focus on ‘Zero Trust’ principles for network access and improving endpoint security. Regular incident response training is also crucial, and the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) for threat detection is a necessity.
The Quantum Conundrum
One looming concern is the rise of quantum computing, a game-changer that poses a significant threat to existing encryption methods. As quantum computers become more powerful, they have the potential to crack codes that would take traditional computers an impractical amount of time to solve.
To counteract this, Hariharan KP shares the following cyber security tips: organizations must invest in quantum-resistant cryptography. This next-generation cryptographic approach will be crucial for safeguarding data against the threats that quantum computing could unleash.
The IoT and Edge Computing Challenge
Another pressing issue is the growing prevalence of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and the increased use of edge computing. These technologies are fundamentally decentralizing our digital environments, making them more diverse and, consequently, harder to secure.
As more devices connect to networks and data processing shifts closer to the source, Hariharan KP’s cyber security tip is for businesses to devise strategies to secure these dispersed architectures.
How solverASSIST Responds to Today’s Cyber Threats
Not one to ignore cyber security tips, solverASSIST is taking proactive measures to fortify its digital defenses. While we may not be cyber security experts, we have never experienced a cyber attack and offer an extensive range of services aimed at ensuring a secure operational environment for our clients:
- Machine Learning Integration. These technologies are integrated into our systems for more efficient threat detection and response mechanisms. We’re also exploring how the integration of AI and machine learning (ML) into our security systems enables a more predictive approach to cyber threats.
- Biometric Authentication. We incorporate facial recognition and fingerprint checks to fortify access security.
- Investment in Talent. Recruiting skilled cyber security professionals is a part of our strategy to build a competent in-house team that can deal with complex threats.
- Zero-Trust Principles. We operate on the zero-trust principle, where trust is never assumed, and verification is always required.
- Strengthening Incident Response. Our incident response plans are not only well-documented but also frequently tested to ensure they are up-to-date and effective in mitigating cyber security risks.
“solverASSIST offers monitoring services, which could be for a company’s vulnerability detection technology, to help security teams predict and respond to threats more effectively. We also specialize in endpoint detection and response for threat hunting; we use endpoint detection area solutions and proactive threat hunting to respond to advanced threats at the endpoint level.” – Hariharan KP.
How is your organization managing cyber threats? Contact us to continue the discussion.