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Blog Post Feb 29, 2024

What is cyber hygiene and why businesses should know about it

Prioritize cyber hygiene for robust security. Automate practices, stay quantum-ready, and collaborate for resilience.

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Maintaining strong cybersecurity through continuous cyber hygiene is vital for businesses. Implementing practices like automated Certificate Lifecycle Management, employee training, website protection, software updates, and network segmentation is crucial. Considering the emerging threat of quantum computing, staying updated, adopting post-quantum cryptographic methods, and integrating them into a comprehensive cybersecurity framework is essential. Collaborating with quantum-resistant technology experts ensures readiness and resilience against evolving cyber threats.

How good cyber hygiene protects business from digital threats

Cybersecurity is increasingly critical for businesses of any size and in any industry. However, maintaining a strong security posture isn't a one-off exercise. Organizations must continuously practice good cybersecurity habits—or cyber hygiene—to protect their systems, networks, and data against the latest threats.

Let's explore what cyber hygiene is, why it's important for businesses, how to assess yours, and how to implement best practices to protect your organization from traditional and quantum threats.

What is cyber hygiene?

Cyber hygiene refers to the practices organizations perform regularly to maintain system health, secure their networks, protect data, and improve online security. It involves antivirus software, firewalls, strong password policies, data encryption, authentication mechanisms, and more. Users should also regularly update their apps, web browsers, and operating systems to minimize vulnerabilities.

Like personal hygiene, which supports human well-being, cyber hygiene helps maintain the health and safety of online environments to protect sensitive data and prevent attacks. These habits also enable organizations to detect problems early and respond promptly to minimize their impact. Cyber hygiene is the foundation for both cybersecurity and cyber resilience.

Good cyber hygiene practices help mitigate cyber threats like phishing, malware, and ransomware. For example, certificate-based authentication mechanisms help reduce the risks of compromised credentials caused by phishing scams, and robust and up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware applications help ward off malicious files. Meanwhile, access control best practices can limit lateral movement and minimize the impact of ransomware attacks.

The importance of cyber hygiene for businesses

Poor cyber hygiene can lead to serious consequences. For example, unauthorized access may cause security breaches, jeopardizing customer data, intellectual property, or proprietary information. The exposure of sensitive data can result in regulatory fines, legal actions, erosion of customer trust, and a tarnished reputation. Meanwhile, downtime and outages may disrupt business operations, leading to financial losses.

Regularly assessing and maintaining cyber hygiene allows you to proactively identify vulnerabilities, address weaknesses, uncover unauthorized software, and implement targeted improvements. The findings also help you update your cybersecurity training and awareness program to strengthen your defense against phishing and other social engineering attacks.

Moreover, regular assessments ensure ongoing compliance with industry regulations and data protection laws. These evaluations give you the insights to continuously improve your cybersecurity posture and ensure your defense is sufficient to protect your environment against fast-evolving cyber threats.

How to assess your cyber hygiene

Conduct security audits to evaluate the effectiveness of your cybersecurity measures, and use automated tools to scan systems for known vulnerabilities. Perform penetration testing, which simulates real-world cyberattacks, to identify weaknesses. Review your security policies to ensure alignment with industry standards and best practices. Also, evaluate your incident response plan to improve cyber resilience.

Assess your backup and recovery strategy's effectiveness against data loss, hacking, ransomware, and data corruption. Implement a regular schedule to update software, install the latest security patches, and upgrade your security software to keep pace with the fast-changing threat landscape. Additionally, ensure all your digital certificates (e.g., SSL/TLS, code signing, S/MIME) are current to ensure secure data exchange and robust encryption.

These proactive risk management measures help you identify vulnerabilities before cybercriminals uncover and exploit them. Regular audits are also essential for complying with security standards and data protection laws. Moreover, you can gain insights into evolving cyber threats to make targeted improvements. It's like personal hygiene—maintaining good habits can go a long way to prevent you from getting sick.

Tools and techniques for assessing cyber hygiene

You may automate various cyber hygiene assessment and maintenance tasks with tools such as vulnerability scanning software, penetration testing tools, a security information and event management (SIEM) system, an employee training platform for simulating phishing attacks, an endpoint detection and response (EDR) solution, and a Certificate Lifecycle Management (CLM) platform like Sectigo Certificate Manager.

Additionally, review and strengthen your incident response plan, which should include these key components:

  • Preparation: Conduct tabletop exercises to ensure teams understand their roles and responsibilities.
  • Identification: Use monitoring tools and logs to identify security incidents.
  • Containment: Implement network segmentation and isolate affected systems.
  • Eradication: Remove the cause of the incident and patch vulnerabilities.
  • Recovery: Restore systems and data from backups and monitor for lingering effects.
  • Analysis: Identify lessons learned and areas for improvement.

Cyber hygiene best practices for businesses

No single method can protect organizations from all potential vulnerabilities and attacks in today's fast-evolving and complex threat environment. You should adopt a layered approach to cybersecurity by implementing these common cyber hygiene best practices:

  • Automate Certificate Lifecycle Management to ensure all digital certificates are up-to-date and properly configured. This secures online communications and prevents outages or vulnerabilities associated with expired certificates.
  • Implement employee cybersecurity awareness training to address topics like phishing prevention, password security, and social engineering attacks.
  • Protect your website against common attacks like bots, DDoS, SQL injections, cross-site scripting, and malware with automation software like Sectigo SiteLock.
  • Install software updates and security patches regularly to address known vulnerabilities.
  • Perform network segmentation to restrict access, limit the lateral movement of cyber threats, and contain the impact of an attack.
  • Go beyond multi-factor authentication (MFA) and implement certificate-based authentication mechanisms to reduce the risks of phishing, social engineering, and man-in-the-middle attacks.
  • Enforce robust access control policies to grant users only the permissions they need to perform their duties.
  • Implement a comprehensive backup and recovery plan, and test the restoration process regularly to ensure you can resume operations quickly after a cyber incident.

Protect against quantum computing threats with good cyber hygiene

Advances in quantum computing could render existing encryption methods ineffective in the not-too-distant future. They will allow hackers to [TC1] access and exfiltrate sensitive data, exposing critical customer and business information and causing significant legal and financial consequences.

Staying current with the latest cyber hygiene practices can help you anticipate new threats and take preventive measures to protect your data and infrastructure. Adopt post-quantum cryptographic algorithms and implement quantum-safe encryption methods to protect sensitive data. Also, regularly assess the quantum threat landscape to understand emerging risks and adapt your cybersecurity strategy accordingly.

Additionally, implement a comprehensive cybersecurity framework by integrating post-quantum cryptographic standards into cybersecurity policies and practices. Ensure your incident response plan addresses potential quantum computing-related incidents and ensure you have clear actions, like inventorying your cryptography, performing comprehensive certificate discovery, and calling vendors to learn about their PQC roadmap, to be post quantum ready. Work with experts in quantum-resistant technologies to stay informed about the latest developments and include quantum computing threats in your risk assessments.

Improve cyber hygiene with Sectigo

Cyber hygiene is essential for enterprises to safeguard their networks and data from cyberattacks and data breaches that can diminish customer trust, tarnish their reputation, cause the loss of business, and lead to legal and financial consequences.

Integrate proper cyber hygiene into your daily operations and adapt your strategies to protect your organization against evolving cyber threats. Additionally, implement automation technologies to support your ongoing effort and ensure nothing falls through the cracks.

Encryption and authentication, enabled by digital certificates, play critical roles in maintaining good cyber hygiene. Sectigo Certificate Manager is a robust CLM automation platform that helps ensure your certificates are current and properly configured to protect against security breaches and service outages. Learn more and start a free trial to see how we can help you strengthen your cyber hygiene practices.

Want to learn more? Get in touch to book a demo of Sectigo Certificate Manager!

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