Kawther Haciane, Project Executive and Security Lead, IBM Security Services, highlights why businesses need to double down on their cybersecurity efforts as they embrace remote working models.
In 2019, the number of breached records jumped significantly with over 8.5 billion records exposed. According to IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index 2020, this is more than three times greater than 2018 year-over-year.
The increasing number of large-scale cyber-attacks suggests that not only is the rate of security breaches going up but increasing in severity, complexity and sophistication, and in turn, posing a significant threat to the reputation, brand value and financial situation of the affected organisations.
Over the past few weeks, more employees than ever have been working remotely from their homes. Every day, these employees are relying on Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) to access their organisations’ data and information. And with that, cybersecurity issues are becoming tougher and a day-to-day struggle.
Although solutions, such as VPNs, are designed to make it easier to work remotely and collaborate, they open up tempting ways for hackers to get in. According to IBM X-Force, threat actors have plenty of choices on what to scan and exploit, with over 150,000 vulnerabilities publicly disclosed to date. It is, therefore, of high importance to update VPNs, network infrastructure devices and endpoints with the latest software patches and security configurations.
In addition to these basic cybersecurity hygiene practices, a multi-factor authentication (MFA) is no longer a “nice to have”. As such, in 2019, according to the same IBM X-Force Threat Intelligence Index, unauthorised use of credentials, phishing and scan & exploit, were the overwhelming majority of the vector threat actors used to compromise security. Therefore, adopting an MFA solution is now a must for any company, regardless of its sise and can be one of the easiest and simplest ways to keep accounts protected.
Also, according to IBM X-Force spam collections, there is a significant spike in malicious activity and phishing campaigns to steal individuals’ credentials.
It is essential for organisations to be transparent with their employees about the dangers of malicious activities, particularly those tempting individuals to click on links and become a victim of a phishing attack. And today, more than ever, companies must have an information security awareness program in place, customised to take in consideration the work-from-home scenario.
In today’s digitally disrupted world, organisations can no longer continue ignoring the likelihood of a breach to their environments. It is important that they acknowledge that it’s not a matter of “if” you will experience a cybersecurity incident, but “when” and that when the inevitable occurs, almost every second counts and every action taken is critical.
Investing in a well-designed, pressure-tested security incident plan will help organisations respond quickly and effectively to contain damage, minimise costs, and prevent reputational and business harm. And in the absence of such a plan, it is highly recommended to partner with a trusted external and specialised advisors in Incident Response, Forensics, threat intelligence and remediation services; to proactively prepare your cyber security response capabilities with their expertise, skills and resources.