Hackers most commonly make their way into networks, systems and accounts in two ways; by leveraging flawed software or human error. This simplified explanation might make it appear an easy threat to mitigate, but with the digital transformations of businesses shifting into hyperdrive in recent years, businesses are now faced with more software applications to monitor, more accounts for users to manage and protect, and more employees working from home without guidance. Because of these changes, your company's existing security strategies could now be outdated, or simply not effective enough without additional defences. 

In this article we have highlighted 5 key tips that you can implement to significantly reduce your chance of being hacked.

 

Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), or Two-Factor Authentication, is arguably one of the most effective ways of improving the security of your online accounts. When MFA is applied to an account, it will require any users attempting to log in to provide they are indeed the account owner through a secondary contact channel; typically in the form of a unique code being sent to the phone number or email of the account owner, which must then be typed into the login page.

By implementing MFA, the risk of weak passwords being cracked or leaked via data dumps is drastically minimized as a password alone would not grant any unauthorised users access.

 

Password Managers

Similarly to MFA, password managers are a simple but effective way to limit the risk of employees using weak or repetitive passwords. The main reason behind employees using easily-guessable passwords - or re-using passwords across multiple accounts - is simply because they are hard to remember, and as the number of online accounts being used in our day-to-day lives continues to increase, this is only becoming more difficult of a task.

Password managers take away the stress of remembering multiple complex passwords by creating strong passwords for you and storing them securely.

 

Security Awareness Training

Many hackers now make their way into business accounts through social engineering attacks. These attacks, which are typically conducted via email, aim to manipulate the target user into willingly sharing company data or login credentials. These attacks commonly involve the impersonation of senior-level employees, luring the target user into a false sense of trust throughout their discussion.

By implementing continuous security awareness training, businesses can ensure their employees are taught how to identify the signs of these attacks. This is especially important as social engineering attacks often lack malicious payloads, allowing them to bypass email gateway protections with ease.

Barracuda Phishline offers computer-based training to educate users on the latest threats and trends, and even includes phishing simulations to put your employees' detection skills to the test.

 

Behavioural Analysis

As mentioned above, advanced email attacks like social engineering and spear phishing often lack malicious payloads which can be identified by the rule-based detection systems of secure email gateways, allowing them to bypass this layer of defence and reach user inboxes. Although security awareness training is a good step towards reducing this risk, businesses can improve their security even further by adding a layer of behavioural analysis.

Barracuda Sentinel is a great example of this; as an artificial intelligence driven inbox defence solution, it uses behavioural analysis to identify the personalised threats that gateway protections miss by learning over time what communications are 'typical' for your business environment. For example, an email from a trusted sender with no malicious payloads could still be flagged as a potential attack from a compromised accounts if it includes an unusual request or urgency.

 

Software Updates

Many users are unaware of just how vital software updates are - not just for the performance of your applications, but for the security of your device and business as a whole. This is because software updates are often intended to patch security flaws, which could otherwise be taken advantage of by hackers who are trying to find a 'back door' into your company systems.

If a hacker did manage to exploit a software application vulnerability, not only could they then access all of the company data stored within that app, but they could even launch malware attacks that could give them control over your device and encrypt your files.