Top tips is a weekly column where we highlight what’s trending in the tech world and list out ways to explore these trends. This week we’re looking at ways to defend the digital perimeter to strengthen the overall security of an organization.
We operate in an age where cyberthreats loom large and security breaches pose a substantial risk to all organizations. Implementing effective network security measures is not just an option—it’s a necessity. Shockingly, the average cost of a data breach reached $4.35 million in 2022. Monitoring unauthorized access to your network is a cornerstone of robust cybersecurity and offers a crucial line of defense. Unauthorized access can lead to data breaches, privacy infringements, and critical system vulnerabilities. Timely detection of these access attempts enables swift responses, such as isolating compromised devices and strengthening security measures. Additionally, monitoring is essential for spotting internal threats and assuring adherence to rules, laws, and industry standards. If digital security is of paramount concern, vigilant monitoring is the key to preserving the integrity and confidentiality of your network.
Implement effective authentication protocols
The foremost step in strengthening network security is enforcing reliable authentication mechanisms. The conventional username and password system is no longer sufficient to fend off cyberattacks, so implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible is key. MFA requires users to provide two or more verification factors, like a password and a one-time code sent to their mobile device. This greatly improves security by making it far more difficult for unauthorized users to access your network.
Restrict user access privileges
The level of resource access that each user in your network needs varies. It’s crucial to restrict user access privileges to the bare minimum required for their tasks in order to reduce the risk of data breaches. Implement the principle of least privilege (PoLP), which gives users only the access they require to complete their particular duties. Review and adjust these access permissions frequently to account for shifting needs.
Employ network segmentation
Segmenting a network involves dividing it into smaller, isolated segments. By prohibiting unauthorized lateral movement within the network, you can reduce the potential damage from a breach. Even if a breach is made, it will be difficult for the intruder to access other segments of your network, since there is an additional layer of security that may be specified for each segment. Access controls and firewalls can be used between segments to improve network security further.
Regularly update and patch software
Cybercriminals frequently target unpatched or outdated software. Sixty percent of breaches happen “due to an unpatched known vulnerability where the patch is not applied.” These vulnerabilities can provide criminals easy access to your network. To prevent this, ensure that all software, operating systems, and applications are regularly updated and patched with the latest security fixes. This reduces the risk of exploitation by known vulnerabilities, making it significantly harder for cyberthreats to compromise your network.
These four methods of defending your digital perimeter represent proactive, interconnected measures that reduce vulnerabilities and offer a strong foundation for your network security. Apart from these fundamental guidelines, dealing effectively with the ever-changing landscape of cyberthreats requires being alert, knowledgeable, and adaptive. In the face of a continuously changing digital ecosystem, security is a continuous effort!