When we think of hygiene most of our tasks like brushing our teeth, brushing our hair, washing our faces are ingrained into our day-to-day activities. You likely don’t even think of them; you just do them. Does your team view cyber hygiene the same way? If not, your cybersecurity strategy and practices could be lacking.
What Is Cyber Hygiene?
Just like our regular tasks for physical hygiene, like showering and making the bed, there are regular tasks organizations and employees should be following to keep their data secure. These tasks are known as cyber hygiene. They’re habits that should come second nature when we’re working during office hours.
- Double-checking email credentials
- Not downloading suspicious files
- Updating software and hardware right away
- Following best password practices
- Ensuring proper data management
- Regularly backing up data
These habits help keep hackers out and software and hardware updated. They can’t necessarily predict threats, but they can allow your team to be prepared ahead of time and prevent breaches in the first place. Failing to bake cyber hygiene into your organization’s culture can lead to identity theft, hacks, viruses, and other serious problems.
Poor Cyber Hygiene = Risk
If you accidentally skip one of your physical hygiene habits as you’re rushing out the door, it can be uncomfortable or frustrating, but it likely won’t have disastrous consequences. The same cannot be said when it comes to cyber hygiene. Skipping even one task that falls under this umbrella can lead to a domino effect that puts your data at risk.
And if you skip the basic cyber hygiene habits altogether, you could be facing several consequences, including:
Phishing is becoming more advanced, and employees need to know to keep an eye out for criminals that want access to your network. Poor cyber hygiene and cybersecurity practices can lead to employees clicking on phishing links, submitting sensitive information, and downloading viruses or malware.
Whether from poor password management, failing to lock your computer when you walk away, or other poor practices, lacking cyber hygiene can open the doors to cybercriminals. By not incorporating the best habits, your company could face data and network breaches that put your entire bottom line at risk.
Ransomware and other types of data breaches can also render data useless or unobtainable. If your employees aren’t regularly backing up their data, sensitive or otherwise, your business can lose out on hours of work or invaluable information on your customers. This can lead to fines and loss of customer trust.
Out of Date Software
Software companies don’t put out patches and updates for simply the sake of doing so. These updates are necessary to close doors cybercriminals could sneak their way through. If employees keep clicking that “Later” button on the update, a bad actor could very well worm their way into your network before you know it.
Less Than Optimal Security Posture
Cybersecurity recommendations and the threat landscape in general are already complex – and they’re constantly changing. Poor cyber hygiene doesn’t help the situation. Without the right strategy, organizations may find it even more difficult to navigate these best cybersecurity practices and find optimal operational efficiency.
Implement These Best Cybersecurity Practices
By implementing cyber hygiene and cybersecurity practices into your organization now, rather than later, you could save you and your team from headaches, data breaches, fines, loss of customer trust, and more. We recommend following these suggestions:
Cyber Risk Assessment
A cyber risk assessment can point to exactly what is working within your company – and what isn’t. Your team will be able to move forward after the audit to understand exactly what needs to be done to improve your security posture, what habits aren’t being followed, and where training is necessary.
Incorporate a Cybersecurity Framework
Cybersecurity frameworks, such as CMMC 2.0 and NIST SP 800-171, are necessary for some companies to do business with the Department of Defense (DoD). However, they’re not just a certification you can hang up on the wall. They require organizations to follow ongoing practices and policies to ensure elevated cybersecurity in day-to-day operations. By following paired down versions of these frameworks, such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF), which seeks to provide guidance for the private sector, you can bake security into your business plan.
Use This Cyber Hygiene Checklist
These seven common cyber hygiene habits are also must-haves if you want to take your security to the next level.
✓ Allowlisting and blocklisting
✓ Multifactor authentication (MFA)
✓ Regular data backups
✓ Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR)
✓ Security Awareness Training
✓ Security Monitoring
✓ Threat Detection
Everyone Is Responsible for Cyber Hygiene
Cyber hygiene isn’t just up to the IT and cybersecurity departments. Everyone within an organization is responsible. All employees and users, no matter their rank within the company, need to be following the best cybersecurity practices to keep threats out. Just one weak link could spell disaster for a company’s network.
If you’re a SMB, it may be time to update your cyber hygiene practices so you can keep sensitive data better organized, safe, and secure from outside attacks. And for contractors and subcontractors working with the DoD, meeting the CMMC 2.0 mandate is necessary to avoid losing out on contracts. Don’t delay. Elevate your current approach to cyber hygiene and identify gaps with a cybersecurity assessment from VersaTrust today.