A healthy lifestyle requires regular hygiene, and the same is true for cyber security.
A cyber hygiene checklist will make it simple for you to maintain a solid infrastructure and encourage sound information management practices. Cyber hygiene refers to sustaining a security-centric mindset and behaviour that enables your organisation to reduce future security breaches.
Cyber hygiene checklist
A cyber hygiene checklist should aid in the creation and maintenance of a security routine for your business, while also boosting your organisation’s overall cyber security.
To make the checklist easier to understand, we have broken it down into three main categories:
These three categories should be the foundation of every organisation and serve as the key components for a strong cyber security architecture.
People within an organisation should serve as the cornerstone of any cyber defence, however this is normally not the case, with untrained employees unfortunately being a liability rather than an asset.
Human error continues to be the leading cause of breaches and data leaks. This is why the majority of your cyber hygiene should focus on the ‘people’ side of your company.
The ‘people’ hygiene checklist includes:
- Protecting against phishing
- Social engineering awareness
- Securing BYOD
Protecting against phishing
Phishing is being used more frequently by attackers to access business information systems as well as to defraud customers. The majority of phishing attempts may be stopped by organisations by preventing links from being opened, but you still need to deal with the issue on a human level.
Implementing guidelines for how to respond to emails from unknown sources is necessary for this protection, with employees expected to never click links from unknown email addresses.
In order to keep employees vigilant, consider testing your employees’ readiness to a potential phishing attack by sending “phishing simulation emails” to all personnel on a regular basis.
Social engineering awareness
Similar to phishing, social engineering prevention should be a regular part of your practice.
Social engineering can span a wide range of susceptible entry points, whereas phishing is more focused on link baiting. Naturally, this still relates to the organisation’s human network. A vulnerability in the human network can be effectively exploited by attackers via social engineering, and you are only as strong as your weakest link!
Make sure your company regularly conducts security awareness training, especially focusing on social engineering.
Using personal devices at work is increasingly common due to the growth of remote working. Employee productivity can be greatly enhanced by this manner of working, which can also lower operational costs, however this can expose the organisation to increased cyber risk.
A BYOD policy is essential for defining the manner in which devices can connect to the corporate network, ensuring devices have up-to-date anti-virus engines and are patched to the latest OS and application versions. Organisations’ policies should also cover the steps employees should take to protect themselves online.
Additionally, technology can be put in place to ensure compliance with the BYOD policy and enforce security measures like multi-factor authentication (MFA) when connecting to corporate applications and networks.
This strategy works effectively in remote work settings and fosters a culture of security within your organisation.
The ‘processes’ hygiene checklist includes:
- Inventory of hardware and software assets
- Vulnerability Management
- Threat analysis
All of the practices that support organisational security are referred to as processes, with you incorporating a few of these procedures into your daily cyber hygiene practise. These procedures are frequently mentioned in well-known cyber security frameworks like the CIS CSC and NIST CSF and monitoring these procedures can significantly reduce risk.
Inventory of hardware and software assets
One of the most fundamental elements of cyber hygiene is inventory control. In essence, this entails maintaining a list of all deployed hardware, operating systems and applications on the network. This allows the organisation to more easily determine which systems require updating and which are no longer supported.
Threat detection is aided by maintaining an accurate inventory. For example, identifying that a device which was previously thought to have been lost on a train has registered back on the network could be someone using a stolen device to try to access sensitive information.
Vulnerability Management is one of the more important tasks when it comes to cyber hygiene. You must include a mechanism to routinely scan your network if you want to create a security-conscious organisation. This type of scanning looks for any vulnerabilities that you can remediate before an attacker has the chance to exploit them.
Your organisation may decide to repair the vulnerability or decide to accept it, depending on the risk. The security budget that is available and the opportunity cost of not patching the vulnerability will decide your next steps.
For example, vulnerabilities can typically be addressed after those which are both highly likely to be exploited and can cause greater potential harm.
Threat analysis should be a part of your cyber hygiene checklist and is just as vital as Vulnerability Management.
Your business must stay up to date on the threat landscape as part of this process as attackers constantly seek out new attack vectors, take advantage of weaknesses, and create fresh threats like a phishing attack and ransomware.
Whilst security platforms are constantly updated with discovered threats, zero-day vulnerabilities and threats are released incessantly, so it’s important to keep ahead of the attackers as much as possible by staying informed.
Watch for announcements of newly found threats and vulnerabilities that affect widely used operating systems and devices via publicly available sources such as the NCSC and vendor vulnerability notifications.
The ‘technology’ hygiene checklist includes:
- Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR)
- Next-Generation Firewalls
Although people and management structures make up the majority of a business, there are always technologies you can use to make your life simpler and provide additional protection.
There are many different cyber security solutions that are effective in particular circumstances. The ones on this hygiene checklist, however, have been demonstrated to work effectively in a variety of information systems.
Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR)
Legacy anti-virus and anti-malware platforms are unfortunately no longer suitable to address modern attacks, which are quick to take advantage of newly identified vulnerabilities and create threats which resist classification due to their nebulous nature.
Consider deploying an EDR platform which can monitor the behaviour of an endpoint and the processes running on it to identify and block suspicious behaviour as soon as it occurs, even for zero-day vulnerabilities.
A firewall is a crucial tool for any organisation to defend against external attacks. This is your initial line of perimeter defence, preventing malicious traffic from entering your network.
It is essential to invest into a next-generation firewall to improve your security. These firewalls focus on the application layer in addition to port and protocol inspection, and include additional features such as intrusion prevention systems (IPS), cloud sandboxing and URL filtering, i.e., they are more suitable for the contemporary corporate climate.
Security information and event management (SIEM) platforms provide unmatched visibility and are undoubtedly a sound investment for cyber defence.
A SIEM platform collates security logs from across the environment and will identify potential threats so can be used a single pane of glass monitoring platform for your entire cyber security infrastructure. It solves the problem of having too many security platforms with not enough resources to review them all.
Your information security requires daily practice and ongoing upkeep if you want the greatest results, much like brushing your teeth. This checklist for excellent cyber hygiene covered several crucial elements to incorporate into your security procedures, branching into three categories:
How can Daisy help your organisation?
At Daisy we understand that not every organisation has the budget or bandwidth to employ a dedicated cyber security specialist. We have a wide range of security solutions and cyber security expertise within our team to be able to consult, plan and execute a security health assessment for your organisation. To find out more, contact your Account Manager or call 0344 863 3000 today.