Here are some easily accessible and ready-to-implement tools, resources, and settings to avoid cyber attacks
It is obvious that all businesses want to know how to prevent cyber-attacks and protect their organization from financial and reputation loss. But not all entrepreneurs are cybersecurity experts, nor can they afford to hire a security team in an initial stage. So, the burning question is how to avoid cyber-attacks and strengthen the security posture using some basic and inexpensive methods.
In this article, we haven’t just given boring theoretical advice that leaves you even more confused about the implementation of these tricks. Instead, we have provided links to valuable resource pages, products, tools, and guides so that you can quickly implement those security features.
7 Efficient Ways to Prevent Cyber Attacks
- Use Scanning and Detection Tools
- Use Encryption
- Deploy DNS Filtering
- Provide Cyber-Awareness Training to Employees
- Use Personal Authentication Certificates
- Protect Login Fields
- Protect Internet Network
1. Use Scanning and Detection Tools
Automated security tools are backed by artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML). They find vulnerabilities, malware, unpatched third-party apps and plugins, misconfigurations, insecure networks, and ports, and coding bugs. They can also automatically remove malware, block attacks, and patch known vulnerabilities! Some of them give 24/7 protection, while others run periodically.
These are the well-known security tools for websites.
- Web Application Firewall (WAF)
- Malware Scanner and Remover
- Vulnerability Scanner
- Threat Detector
- Blacklist Monitoring Tool
- PCI Compliance Scanner
- Automatic Backup and One-Click Restore Tools
You can buy these tools individually but managing them can be a big hassle.
2. Use Encryption
Encryption is the best weapon to protect against data breaches and data theft incidents. Even if hackers intercept the data, they won’t be able to read, interpret, and misuse it.
Here are some quick encryption techniques and tools.
- Encrypt tablets/laptops’ hard drives using BitLocker for Windows and FileVault for Apple devices. If you sell or lose these devices, no unauthorized person can access the data from them, and you’ll be saved from data breach incidents.
- Use S/MIME certificates to get end-to-end encryption for your business emails and insert digital signatures on outgoing emails to protect your customers and other stakeholders from phishing scams. These certificates encrypt emails in transit and at rest (stored). It costs as low as $16/year.
- To encrypt confidential files and folders, use free tools like AxCrypt, Folder Lock, VeraCrypt, DiskCryptor, etc. Also, check out this free encryption resource for Windows EFC: Encrypting File System.
- Use SSL/TLS certificate to encrypt the traffic between your website’s server and users’ browsers. SSL certificates come in various validation levels and types. You can secure multiple main domains under one single certificate, an unlimited number of subdomains or both!
3. Deploy DNS Filtering
DNS filtering blocks malicious, spammy, phishing, and adult content websites from your organization’s network. DNS filtering service providers maintain a list of suspicious websites. You can also manually create a list of domain names or IP addresses that you want to block. Whenever any employee tries to access a site from this list, the DNS filter prevents their access. Some well-known DNS filtering providers are:
4. Provide Cyber-Awareness Training to Employees
The human factor is one of the biggest security vulnerabilities an organization will face. All it takes is one wrong click by an employee to let the attacker break into your system and cripple everything. Hence, your employees must be able to recognize the signs of threats without falling into the trap for them.
Here are some well-known platforms that provide FREE cyber awareness training.
- DoD cyber awareness challenge
- FEMA IS-906: Workplace Security Awareness
- CISA‘s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) Training, Cyber Storm training, and Incident Reporting training
- ESET Cybersecurity Awareness Training (Cost: Basic training is free, advanced training costs $250)
There are many good paid training providers available, too.
Also, share these interesting articles with your employees to help them identify and mitigate online risks.
5. Use Personal Authentication Certificates
This is a secret treasure that not all companies are aware of. Personal authentication certificates or PACs offer two main security benefits.
Authorized Access: You need to install PAC in employees’ office devices. Now, your online assets like intranet websites, servers, cloud platforms, collaboration platforms, etc., can be accessible from PAC-installed devices only. It works like 2FA and verifies the client’s identity. Generally, companies secure their resources with passwords. What if a hacker steals the password, or it gets leaked? But when you have secured your devices with PAC, the hacker can’t access your servers/resources from any other devices, even if they have the passwords. In short, PAC provides assurance that the person accessing an online resource is a legitimate employee, not a hacker.
Digital Signature: It facilitates employees to insert their digital signature on emails and documents. These digital signatures can’t be copied, removed, or altered. It gives assurance to the recipients that the email/document is coming from the person it claims to be. It protects against data tampering, phishing, and spoofing-related scams.
PAC is affordable and ranges between $10 to $32 a year only!
6. Protect Login Fields
If your website has login fields and users, employees, vendors, or any stakeholder that need to provide a user ID and password to access some facilities, you must secure these fields. Apply these two simple and powerful techniques to protect login fields.
- Enable two-factor authentication (2FA) like a one-time password (OTP), secret code, or a unique link on the user’s registered mobile phone/email address, along with the regular password security. Some famous 2FA providers are Google 2-Step, Twilio, and Authy. For WordPress sites, use plugins like Google Authenticator, Two-Factor Authentication, or WP 2FA.
For non-WP sites, check out this resource: Enabling Two-Factor Authentication for Your Web Application.
7. Protect Internet Network
One of the important ways to prevent cyber-attacks is to protect the internet connection. Whether you use wi-fi or ethernet, once an attacker successfully hacks a network, they can intercept all the connected devices. In an office environment where hundreds of devices share the same internet, an insecure network can cause huge catastrophes.
- Avoid network bridging. It is a cool Windows feature but can be a vulnerable entry point if the bridging device is not well-protected or infected with malware.
- Disable unused ports and network connections.
- If you are still on wi-fi protected access(WPA), disable it. Shift to the more secure protocol WPA2 or WPA3, as they have a stronger encryption algorithm. Check out this resource to know how to enable WPA2 / WPA3.
- Periodically change the router settings like password, local IP address, and Service Set Identifier (SSID).
- If you offer free wi-fi to visitors, guests, patients, and walk-ins, keep a separate internet connection for them. Don’t use this same connection for your internal IoT devices, including employee computers, printers, scanners, medical devices, etc.
- Ask employees to use VPN to get a secure tunnel for data transfer and preventing eavesdropping. Also, ask them to regularly do IP leak tests to ensure their VPN is not leaking their original IP.
Final Words on How to Prevent Cyber Attacks
We hope our article has helped you learn some easy and efficient ways to prevent cyber-attacks. We have omitted some obvious tips like keeping all the components, apps, and operating systems updated to their latest versions and enforcing strong passwords. The above tips will help you to avoid cyberattacks if you have a startup and small business. But as the business grows, you will need an in-house security team or a managed security provider (MSP) to keep a 24/7 eye on your threat surface, find the vulnerabilities before the hackers do, and mitigate cyberattacks of high magnitude.