I need to reduce my exposure to cyber attacks

The risk of cyber-attack continues to grow, with hackers developing ever-more sophisticated techniques to exploit vulnerabilities in software and systems to gain access to valuable data. This presents a real challenge to organisations of all sizes when it comes to identifying the steps they need to take to keep their networks and data safe. A data breach, however small, can be costly to any organisation, both in financial terms and in the reputational damage it can cause.

While awareness of the importance of cyber security is higher than it’s ever been, many organisations still don’t know where to start when it comes to reducing their exposure to cyber attack. Quickly detecting and disrupting or preventing an attack will help limit its impact, but knowing how to do that remains a challenge, particularly if your organisation doesn’t have specialist cyber security expertise in-house. How do you know, for example, what to consider when buying systems to make sure you choose the most secure solution for your organisation?

What systems, tools, processes, and staffing do you need to put in place to effectively monitor and stop attacks before they cause your organisation significant problems? And how do you keep your security controls up to date in the face of an ever-changing threat?

Reducing your exposure to cyber attacks

Before investing in technology or security solutions, it’s important to gain a full understanding of the existing cyber threat landscape and establish where your organisation’s weak spots lie. This will give you a better idea of the issues you need to address first and help you put the right foundations in place on which to build an effective cyber security strategy.
While it’s often difficult to pinpoint the specific threats your organisation may face, gaining a broad understanding of what’s out there will help you better prepare your defences against potential attack.

It’s also important to recognise that your organisation, however big or small, is a potential target for cyber criminals and, at the very least, get the cyber security basics in place to start protecting your networks and data. If you don’t know where to start or don’t possess the in-house cyber security expertise, AMDH can help. We have vast experience of designing and implementing ICT and cyber security strategies, using the latest available technologies, to help organisations protect themselves from cyber criminals.

Key cyber security considerations

When it comes to securing your networks and data, this shouldn’t be treated as an afterthought or an add-on. Instead, it should be an integral part of your organisation’s overall ICT strategy, with any solutions or technologies considered during the design and product selection process. The products you select should always be configured according to best practice, whether that’s at vendor, industry or Government level. For example, when configuring your Microsoft 365 environment you should enable ‘security defaults’ and consider the recommendations in the ‘Microsoft Secure Score’ dashboard.

Where updates or security patches are available, they should be applied as soon as possible. Vendor updates are often buggy and introduce more problems than they solve, so updates can be deferred until you are sure they are stable. However, Cyber Essentials states that critical vulnerabilities must be patched within 14 days, so getting the balance right here is vital.
Perimeter defence remains essential. Where possible, next-generation firewalls – which use behaviour analytics to detect anomalies – should be deployed.

However, because most organisational perimeters comprise many different points of entry, such as on-premise, in-cloud, at an employee’s home or at a SaaS provider’s location, using a more user-centric approach is essential. Securing the user, rather than their point of entry, can often make your defences more robust. Monitoring is also important. There is no point in investing in and configuring adequate ICT security and then never checking to ensure it’s working correctly and not responding to alerts raised about suspicious behaviour or events. Getting these checked by an external security expert is also a good way to ensure your system is working as it should. They will be able to stress-test your defences in ways you may not have considered in-house and help highlight any vulnerabilities or weaknesses you may have missed.

Next steps

There are several simple steps your organisation should start thinking about to strengthen your defences against cyber attack and reduce your exposure to risk. Ensure that all the solutions you use have vendor best practice for security guides and industry or Government accreditations. When it comes to selecting vendors, choose ones which regularly patch their solutions.

Get your organisation certified to Cyber Essentials as a minimum. Cyber Essentials is a Government-backed scheme which provides organisations with the tools they need to protect their data, networks and digital assets from cyber attack. It provides validation that organisations which hold it are taking all necessary steps to protect themselves from cyber criminals and are keeping their data safe.

For reasons listed above, use a next-generation firewall, along with a robust managed antivirus solution with host firewall on all your user devices. This will enable you to protect your critical data. Use a robust identity provider solution, such as Azure AD, which utilises secure sign-on and multi-factor authentication to protect your users. And ensure you invest enough time and resource into monitoring your cyber security. Use an SIEM system to ensure you are responding to the right security events rather than getting bogged down sifting through thousands of events trying to find the relevant one, and can continue to meet your cyber security standards as the threat continues to evolve.

Find out more

AMDH Services Ltd has a wealth of experience in developing and implementing data protection strategies and solutions. We can help your organisation identify and mitigate your risks, recommending the technologies and security options which will deliver the best return on investment. We can also provide you with the best technical expertise at the right cost to enhance the overall value of your investment in our services. To find out more, get in touch for an informal chat and a free consultation.