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Cyber Hygiene: Regular Practices for a Safer Business Environment

Cyber hygiene can be the difference between a detrimental data breach and business as usual for your company. At Morefield, we have decades of experience in the cybersecurity sector, and we understand the changing landscape for businesses like yours. Explore the practices you can follow to secure your operation’s digital environments and protect your private information from cybercriminals. 

Understanding Cyber Hygiene

Cyber hygiene, sometimes called cybersecurity hygiene, refers to the set of principles and protocols an organization or person uses to secure their digital landscape, including:

  • Users
  • Networks
  • Devices
  • Data

These practices are often part of a larger ongoing routine dedicated to maintaining a healthy system and keeping private information safe from unauthorized personnel and cyberattacks.

Importance of Cyber Hygiene

With a whopping 83% of organizations enduring more than one data breach in 2022, businesses must take the growing threat of a cyberattack very seriously. Without proper cyber hygiene practices, your operation risks jeopardizing sensitive information about your customers, employees, proprietary solutions, intellectual property and company financials. 

One data breach can be enough to compromise your business’s reputation, disrupt operations and harm your bottom line. 

Goals of Cyber Hygiene Practices

The primary goal of good cyber hygiene is risk management. Taking daily, precautionary measures to keep your business’s sensitive data protected against cybercriminals is essential for combating potential threats, including:

  • Malware
  • Ransomware
  • Viruses
  • Identity thieves
  • Hackers

In addition to protecting your operations, maintaining proper cyber hygiene is key to staying resilient if an attack occurs.

The Effectiveness of Cyber Hygiene

Improving your business’s security posture with good cyber hygiene practices is incredibly effective for mitigating risks. According to the 2022 Microsoft Defense Report, following basic cyber hygiene practices can prevent 98% of cyberattacks aimed at your business. 

Your business can save significant time, money and energy by having your team stick with cybersecurity protocols. Additional benefits include:

  • Securing your sensitive data.
  • Keeping computer systems running efficiently.
  • Combatting unauthorized access to private systems. 

Key Principles of Cyber Hygiene 

Cyber hygiene consists of many smaller practices intended to maintain healthy data environments that align with a few key principles:

Hardware and Software Maintenance

The hardware and software solutions your business utilizes for its operations are often major targets for cybercriminals. Addressing vulnerabilities in these systems is essential for combating unwanted threats. 

Regularly updating hardware and software can help you keep your systems up to date and equipped to handle newer dangers. Your business needs the latest protections and cybersecurity framework, including firewalls, proxy servers and patches, for the most effective risk mitigation. 

Many cyber hygiene practices revolve around securing your hardware and software as best as possible because your business relies on these systems and their data.

Employee Awareness and Training

Cybersecurity threats continue to grow and wreak havoc on organizations of all sizes. Experts predict the average annual cost of cybercrime will reach $10.5 trillion by 2025, meaning businesses must find ways to improve their cyber hygiene practices. Increasing employee awareness through comprehensive training programs is one effective method for combating cyber dangers and maintaining a secure data environment. 

Your team should understand how to identify, address and mitigate common threats. Remind them of the importance of keeping their login credentials private and inform them of the serious risks of a data breach. Help them see their essential role in maintaining cyber hygiene across your entire business.

Risk Management in Cybersecurity

The final principle of cyber hygiene is effective and comprehensive risk management solutions. The best way to secure your company’s digital network is to continuously look for new weaknesses that could make it easier for a cybercriminal to access your private data. Regular risk assessments will help you find vulnerabilities on your attack surface, allowing you to patch holes before a hacker can capitalize on them. 

Implementing Cyber Hygiene Best Practices

Explore the following best practices to boost your business’s cyber hygiene:

  • Employee awareness and participation: Every team member should know how to identify common threats, like phishing emails or social engineering attacks. Consider implementing new training programs to refresh their understanding of cybersecurity best practices and new dangers to be aware of. 
  • Access management: Your business should encourage every employee to use strong, unique passwords and multifactor authentication when logging into your systems. Update access controls and remove outdated credentials from your systems promptly. 
  • Regular software updates and patching: Keep your operating systems and applications up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity technologies. Patch vulnerabilities as soon as possible to protect your digital landscape. 
  • Firewall and network security: Always utilize firewalls to actively monitor your network traffic and block unauthorized access to your critical systems. Also, employ and maintain antivirus and anti-malware solutions to protect your digital framework against malware threats.
  • Secure data backup: Back up your business’s important data regularly on- and off-site to ensure you have access to it in case a cyberattack leads to data corruption or loss. 
  • Vendor and third-party risk management: Remember to assess the cybersecurity posture of any vendors or third parties prior to integrating them with your existing systems. 

Working with a cybersecurity professional can help make your business’s cyber hygiene management processes simple. 

Incorporating Cyber Hygiene in IT Strategy

Every business can benefit from prioritizing cyber hygiene in its overarching information technology (IT) strategy. The following are basic steps for maintaining a secure business environment:

  1. Conduct risk assessments: Begin by assessing your IT framework to identify potential vulnerabilities and threats. Your business should do this regularly to manage all major risks.
  2. Create a cybersecurity policy: Establish the goals and objectives of your cybersecurity practices. Outline the responsibilities of your team members and the procedures they should follow. 
  3. Roll out employee training programs: Ensure your workers are up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats and best practices so they can make informed decisions throughout their workday. Your team should be familiar with all access controls and system update requirements. 
  4. Utilize advanced threat detection systems: Implementing intrusion detection is key to stopping a hacker in their tracks and minimizing the threat. Your business can benefit from setting up these systems for ongoing cybersecurity monitoring. 
  5. Determine a data backup and disaster recovery plan: Have your team back up important data regularly to decrease the chances of data loss. Also, establish and test your process for recovering data after a system failure or breach. 
  6. Continuously update and improve: Your business can elevate and improve cyber hygiene by constantly refining your cybersecurity practices and IT strategy. 

Protect Your Business With Cybersecurity Solutions From Morefield

If your business needs comprehensive cybersecurity solutions, turn to the wide range of services from Morefield. With more than 75 years of industry experience, we understand the crucial measures necessary for protecting sensitive data across your digital landscape.

Our extensive cybersecurity solutions are scalable and will help protect the digital processes that are essential to your business’s success. We will guide you through cyber hygiene best practices to ensure your operations are secure.

Are you ready to get started? Contact Morefield to learn more about our IT, cloud and cybersecurity solutions today. 

Fox 43 interviews Morefield vCISO, Allan Jacks, on recent PA Supreme Court cyberattack

Cybersecurity experts break down Pennsylvania Supreme Court cyberattack

On Sunday, Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Debra Todd announced that portions of the Pennsylvania Courts’ website are currently unavailable due to a denial of service cyber attack. According to the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a denial of service cyber attack occurs when malicious actors flood the targeted host or network with traffic until the target cannot respond or simply crashes, preventing access for legitimate users.

Read the full article here: https://www.fox43.com/article/news/lo…

WPMT-FOX43’s YouTube channel is a hub for the best of FOX43 News and its investigative reports, top headlines, and digital exclusive content: youtube.com/c/fox43 SUBSCRIBE: youtube.com/c/fox43

Critical infrastructure hit with cyber attack in western Pa.

A local tech executive weighs in on the impacts attacks similar to the one on the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa could have, and how you can stay safe.

Author: Logan Perrone

Published & Updated: 9:57 PM EST December 3, 2023

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Several civilian infrastructure operations were attacked by Iranian-affiliated hackers, including a water treatment facility outside of Pittsburgh. 

The incident left multiple organizations breached in the United States by Iran-affiliated hackers, prompting a warning from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

Wes Kelly is the President of Morefield Communications in Camp Hill and says the hackers behind the attack were not targeting the plant specifically……. Read the full article.

Implementing Zero Trust Architecture: Steps for Businesses

Zero trust architecture is helping companies combat cyberattacks and data breaches by supercharging security at every point of entry across their information technology (IT) infrastructure, from their network to their devices.

We are breaking down what you need to know about transitioning to zero-trust architecture with easy-to-follow steps.

What Is Zero Trust Architecture?

Zero trust architecture refers to a cybersecurity strategy involving strict user verification. This model effectively prohibits unauthorized access to your business’s systems and applications by requiring validation at every applicable user interaction. Its primary concern is protecting your business’s resources through authentication and authorization.

In 2020, 45% of company cyberattacks were caused by network intrusions, meaning the perpetrators gained unauthorized access to the business’s systems. With the influx of cybersecurity threats, remote workers, cloud processing and digitalization, businesses must take action to protect their sensitive data. Zero trust architecture is key in securing digital tools so your operations can continue without interruption. 

When you employ a zero-trust framework, your company can continuously validate which users and devices can access which systems and privileges.

Importance of Zero Trust Architecture

Zero trust architecture plays a valuable role in combating cybercriminals looking to steal and exploit your company’s sensitive data, including:

  • Financial information
  • Intellectual property
  • Customer data 
  • Personally identifiable information

The benefits of implementing this type of security infrastructure include:

  • Minimizing the risk of a data breach. 
  • Gaining greater control over your digital environments and data.
  • Reducing unplanned downtime due to an attack.
  • Increasing visibility across all devices, networks and applications.
  • Simplifying compliance.

The consequences of a cyberattack can be detrimental to your company’s overall operations, bottom line and reputation. With zero trust security, your company can improve access protection across your entire IT landscape.

7 Steps to Implement Zero Trust Architecture

Explore the following steps to implement zero trust architecture and protect your company’s data:

1. Define Your Objectives

Before transitioning to zero trust architecture, your company must define its security objectives and the goals your company wants to achieve with this infrastructure. Once you have an end goal for how you’ll approach implementation, starting small can be helpful.

Consider rolling out a zero trust framework for a few smaller-scale applications and systems first. For instance, you could begin with your mobile devices or the systems that your remote staffers utilize first, then make a plan to add your company’s more complicated users as you become more familiar with these processes.  

2. Consider the Key Principles of Zero Trust

When rolling out zero trust architecture, your business should assess how it can manage this high level of security without negatively impacting your team’s productivity with too many access barriers. 

Before deciding on which users have access to which applications and which data, you should familiarize yourself with the following principles of zero trust architecture:

  • Assume your business and its digital tools are at risk.
  • Trust no users or devices without verification.
  • Access should be dependent upon the individual user, their role and location.
  • Grant access to users as needed.
  • Utilize encryption to protect stored and moving data. 
  • Continuously monitor and validate users to ensure only authorized individuals have access to each of your systems at any given time.

3. Determine Your Access Policies

With an understanding of the foundational principles of zero trust architecture, your business can focus on the specific access policies it wants to employ. These may include:

  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Single sign-on
  • Identity and access management systems
  • Zero trust network access

The security policies you choose will depend on where this type of infrastructure will benefit your business most. 

4. Establish Who Needs Access to What Applications

Next, it can be highly advantageous to create a map of your company’s digital infrastructure to ensure you’ve identified all existing entry points to your critical systems. 

In this step, you’ll determine which users have access to which applications and devices and from where. You’ll develop rules and policies so your team has a clear understanding of your security expectations. 

5. Update Zero Trust Access

Once you map out your digital landscape and determine the access granted to each user across all departments, your business can begin refining the access privileges and restrictions in place to ensure they are up-to-date. 

During this step, you’ll comb through each user, ensuring they have access to the necessary systems to perform their jobs. Be sure to also remove access from any former employees.

6. Prepare for Ongoing Growth

When transitioning to a zero trust model, your business should prepare to continuously refine its security measures to grow with your operation and protect your sensitive data. Always clearly communicate new policies with your employees so they know what protocols to follow.  

If your company has an in-house security team, they should work on establishing a plan to address access to new requests and tools. 

7. Validate Your Access Controls

Once you’ve implemented your zero trust architecture, your team will need to update your controls and policies regularly. Continuously validate users and confirm they can access the applications, resources and systems they need for success. This will help your business ensure you are adequately protected and your cybersecurity measures are always up-to-date.

Common Challenges in Implementing Zero Trust Architecture

Your business should also explore the common challenges associated with zero trust architecture before making the transition. These include:

  • Dealing with complex IT infrastructures.
  • Training your team on cybersecurity and login best practices.
  • Finding a software solution that works with your existing network and systems. 

One of the best ways to deal with these challenges is to work with a cybersecurity professional who understands these intricacies and can help your company create an effective plan to implement zero trust architecture across your IT landscape.

The Role of AI in Zero Trust Architecture

Artificial intelligence (AI) is making waves in the world of cybersecurity. It can effectively supercharge your zero trust architecture by:

  • Calculating real-time risk scores based on your system’s data and helping your business get ahead of potential weaknesses.
  • Enhancing user experience by automating access approval requests.
  • Saving time and boosting productivity without compromising security. 

Protect Your Operation With Cybersecurity Solutions From Morefield

When your business needs comprehensive and scalable cybersecurity solutions, turn to Morefield. We have more than 75 years of industry experience and understand the importance of protecting your organization’s technical infrastructure.

We offer many cybersecurity services, ranging from malware protection to mobile device management. Our team is here to help small and medium-sized businesses with the essential network and computer protection required to mitigate threats. Our solutions help ensure only authorized personnel and users have access to your system.

Ready to protect your business with cybersecurity solutions from Morefield? Contact us to get started today!

The Role of AI and Machine Learning in Cybersecurity

The use of machine learning and AI in cybersecurity is rapidly growing. Many organizations are using AI models as a vital tool in preventing attacks and identifying threats. These new approaches can detect and respond to threats in real time, allowing companies to save time and resources throughout their cybersecurity strategy. AI models can also continuously adapt and learn, allowing people to identify new threats as they emerge and increase protection. Discover more about the role of AI and machine learning in cybersecurity now.

Threat Detection Using AI and Quantum Machine Learning

Machine learning aids in pattern recognition, which helps detect various cyber threats. Pattern recognition is how machines learn to identify patterns, recognize the environment and make decisions. This process involves reducing information, mapping information and labeling information. Leveraging machine learning, AI can solve complex tasks such as identifying threats to protect organizations from cyber-attacks. Additionally, this process allows AI to better identify new and more sophisticated attack vectors that humans may otherwise be unable to recognize.

Similarly, quantum computing in cybersecurity can tackle complex computations. This technology can harness information in profound new ways, including symmetric and asymmetric encryption. Quantum computers can tackle problems that classical computers cannot, empowering organizations to prevent potentially devastating attacks more efficiently.

Machine Learning in Incident Response

Incident response refers to the actions and technologies that detect and respond to potential or actual cyberattacks or breaches. The ultimate goal of incident response is to prevent attacks before they occur, but it also includes plans for recovery if an attack occurs. Machine learning and AI excel at collecting and analyzing the data needed to identify threats to minimize the likelihood of an attack.

Furthermore, AI and machine learning can automate many routine processes, reducing workload and saving time during incident response processes. Machine learning can quickly alert teams if an issue arises and begin protecting information. Some tools can respond to threats automatically, minimizing potential damage.

With advanced technology automating these processes, human workers can dedicate their time to more critical tasks while algorithms work to identify threats and suspicious behavior. This division of tasks allows organizations to instill better incident response practices while ensuring workers participate in meaningful work.

Challenges and Limitations of AI in Cybersecurity

Several challenges and limitations exist for AI in cybersecurity. Being aware of these problems can help you determine solutions for preventing attacks and data breaches. You must be aware of these challenges:

  • Biases in training data: Relating to cybersecurity, bias can lead to false negatives or false positives. These results can drive flawed decisions, unjust actions or missed threats. Bias occurs through data to train the algorithms. If the AI training data is unrepresentative or biased, the algorithm will perpetuate those biases in its decisions and predictions.
  • Adversarial attacks: These attacks attempt to deceive or manipulate AI systems by exploiting design or input data vulnerabilities. Adversaries can use these attacks to lead AI models to make incorrect decisions or predictions.
  • Advanced evasion techniques: Some evasion techniques could empower attackers to remain undetected. Malware that modifies behavior to evade AI detection systems can bypass security controls and make it more challenging for security solutions to neutralize the threat.
  • Deepfake attacks: AI can create highly realistic media. Attackers can use altered audio, images and videos to manipulate information and threaten individuals. They can also use this media to create fake profiles and spread false information, which could result in financial loss, damage to a reputation or other adverse outcomes.
  • Automated attack tools: Attackers may be able to target many more people by using AI to automate the attack lifecycle. For example, AI can automate vulnerability scanning, allowing hackers to launch targeted attacks and exploit weaknesses much more easily.
  • Enhanced phishing attacks: Those with malicious intent could use AI to create highly personalized and convincing phishing emails to trick individuals into performing sensitive actions or divulging personal information. Some users may struggle to identify fraudulent messages because AI can use natural language processing to increase attack success rates.

The Role of Machine Learning and AI in Cybersecurity Education

The next generation of cybersecurity professionals must have an in-depth understanding of AI, machine learning, cybersecurity and quantum computing. Machine learning is quickly evolving, and human workers can’t work at the speed or with the accuracy of AI models. Equipping the next generation with this knowledge will be essential to practicing the best security measures and preventing attacks.

Cybersecurity education often provides hands-on experiences. Practical labs and simulations can closely mirror real-world obstacles and scenarios, equipping students to handle various challenges. These experiences can provide an essential foundation for understanding response processes and how cyberattacks can significantly impact businesses and people.

Cybersecurity occupations are expected to grow much faster in the upcoming years, highlighting that proper education will be essential for data protection and industry success. Along with changes in higher education programs, cybersecurity education is taking root in K-12 schools to provide foundational knowledge for protecting personal information and awareness about careers in cybersecurity.

There is room for growth in education about cybersecurity, but there is also an increasing demand. Many students are interested in the industry, but few educators report student awareness of cybersecurity jobs or of how to learn more about the industry.

As machine learning and AI become more advanced, the need for cybersecurity education will increase. Schools must begin offering more cybersecurity education, and these opportunities should intertwine with other educational materials. It will be important to ensure students have access to cybersecurity tools so they can interact with different forms of technology and better understand how they work. Education must also shift to more hands-on experiences, allowing students to engage with AI and machine learning in various ways to learn how to train models and use them to their advantage.

Find Cybersecurity Solutions With Morefield

At Morefield, we understand the importance of cybersecurity. With advances in technology and online services, data breaches can compromise your organization’s confidentiality and cause loss of resources and trust. Proper security is essential for your organization’s success. We provide scalable and expansive options to protect your sensitive information. Our protective services include technical and consulting resources and end user solutions to give you control over your systems.

Our cybersecurity services include advanced vulnerability assessments, cybersecurity assessments and virtual CISO services. Advanced vulnerability assessments can analyze networks for password hacking, port scanning, network readiness and current security policies. Cybersecurity assessments will highlight vulnerable areas, business goals, risk tolerance levels and more. Virtual CISO services provide expertise, scalability, permanence and measurable performance.

Morefield takes an in-depth approach to security, and we can align our services to your organization’s needs. Contact us today to enhance your organization’s security.

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