There has been an extraordinary increase in ransomware targeting New York businesses since the start of 2021. The increased number of remote employees, companies in a state of transition back to the office and teams working with new systems and technologies that they are unfamiliar with, have all left NYC businesses at more risk from cybercriminals than ever before. Phishing schemes, hacks and corporate email breach operations are wreaking havoc on major corporations and small businesses alike. Not even healthcare providers and charities are safe.
Today we will go over some of the most important cybersecurity solutions you can implement to secure your company. Long term, it is definitely a good idea to partner with an experienced managed IT services provider who specialises in cybersecurity for New York businesses. But in the meantime, here are steps you can take immediately to secure your organization.
- Make Sure All Software And Operating Systems Are Patched Regularly
All devices, apps, and operating systems that are joined to your network must be regularly updated to the latest security patches. Patches guard against hardware and software flaws, sometimes known as backdoors, that hackers might use to gain access to your network. Some operating systems will fall out of the update cycle for new patches a few years after they are released and will no longer be secure. For example, Windows 7 is no longer considered secure as it is no longer being patched. Exploits are one of the most popular attack vectors, and they’ve had a lot of success in the past.
As an example, the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017 affected hundreds of thousands of devices and brought multi-national businesses like FedEx, and national healthcare systems like the NHS in the United Kingdom to a standstill.
Almost all of these infections could have been prevented if the victim’s machines had been updated to the latest software.
- Install Anti-Virus and Ransomware Protection Software
Keyloggers, computer viruses and Trojan viruses are all serious risks. Fortunately, there are several pieces of antivirus software which can help to safeguard your computer against viruses, worms, ransomware and malware. These threats can cause your computer to slow down, steal data, or erase files. Antivirus software is critical for securing your system by identifying threats in real time, safeguarding your data and preventing infections from spreading from one machine to another.
Once you’ve installed antivirus or ransomware protection software, make sure to perform virus scans on your computer on a regular basis.
- Use Multi Factor Authentication
For businesses in New York, cybersecurity should be a top concern and securing user accounts is a foundational step towards complete network security.
Multi factor authentication, also called two factor authentication (MFA/2FA), is the process of using more than one piece of information to unlock an account. Whereas normally a username and password would be all that would be required, with multi factor authentication you would also need a second piece of information. This might take the form of a code delivered to an employee’s device by SMS.
This greatly increases the security of any account it is used on as an attacker would not be able to gain access unless they had physical access to the employee’s phone. Even if they had managed to discover a user’s password.
- Use Encryption and Secure VPNs Where Possible
For security reasons, all organizations should use some form of data encryption. Encryption scrambles your data, preventing unauthorized parties from interpreting and using it, even if your sensitive data is stolen or your internet connection is being spied on. While encryption does not make your browsing or data completely secure, it greatly increases the time and technology required by a potential attacker in order to decrypt it.
Always encrypt critical data on flash drives, use a VPN to protect your browser traffic and avoid unencrypted websites while browsing. The “https” in the web address and the closed padlock symbol in the address bar indicate that a website is encrypted.
- Train Your Employees On Cybersecurity Threats and Best Practices
Humans are the weakest link in any system, but they can also be your greatest weapon against cyber attackers. If your employees know what the threats are and feel engaged and valued as a part of your defence against them, they will be more likely to take cybersecurity seriously.
Spending resources and time delivering training on phishing emails, good password practices and how to spot suspicious network, may end up saving you far more in future damage if that knowledge helps your employees prevent the next ransomware attack or data breach.
We hope this has been a useful guide to some of the basics of cybersecurity. We would still recommend that NYC businesses contact a professional managed IT services provider in New York, but these tips will help give you a head start.