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Protect your business against 99% of cyber-attacks with just 5 basic security practices

Posted 6th March 2024

Cyber security is arguably one of the biggest concerns for modern businesses. The safety and integrity of data and systems is crucial for supporting even the smallest of businesses to operate these days, and cyber-attacks have become an everyday threat.  

Despite this awareness, too many businesses continue to operate without the most fundamental of security measures in place. But according to the latest figures from Microsoft, businesses can protect themselves against a staggering 99% of attacks by implementing just five basic security standards. 

“80-90% of all compromises originate from unmanaged [or BYOD] devices.” 

Microsoft Digital Defense Report 2023 

5 fundamental cyber security standards for businesses  

1. Enable Multi-Factor Authentication 

Multi-Factor Authentication, or MFA, is a crucial defence protocol that helps businesses protect themselves against the most common types of cyberattack by creating an extra barrier to unauthorised access. MFA requires users to verify their identity through multiple methods, including passwords, mobile device codes and biometrics, ensuring the risk of an account being compromised is drastically reduced, if not altogether eliminated.  

For the most effective use of MFA, businesses should be looking to enable it for all users and all relevant accounts, including email, cloud services and admin privileges. 

Read more: What is BCN’s MFA process and what does it mean for you? 

“A recent study based on real-world attack data from Microsoft Entra found that MFA reduces the risk of compromise by 99.2 percent.” 

Microsoft Digital Defense Report 2023  

2. Apply Zero Trust principles 

The Zero Trust security model operates under the assumption that no one, not even those users within the organisation, should be trusted by default. This means everyone and every device needs to be authenticated, authorised and validated before they can access anything, regardless of the user’s location or network. By adopting a least-privileged access approach, businesses reduce their attack surface and can better protect all their most valuable systems and assets without impacting performance or user experience.  

Implementing network segmentation, strong identity verification (such as with MFA) and continuous monitoring of the network are essential components of an effective Zero Trust strategy. 

“By adopting [a Zero Trust] model, organizations can increase the cost to attackers and limit the impact of successful intrusions, thus reducing the blast radius.” 

Microsoft Digital Defense Report 2023 

 3. Use Extended Detection and Response and anti-malware solutions 

A business’s ability to defend itself against attack relies on how well it can detect and recognise a threat. Extended Detection and Response, or XDR, solutions are designed to make this as easy as possible for businesses to achieve, by gathering and analysing huge volumes of business intelligence. XDR combines threat detection, investigation and response across multiple security layers, providing a comprehensive defence against even the most sophisticated types of attack.  

Paired with reliable anti-malware solutions that are designed to prevent, detect and remove malicious software, XDR ensures businesses are able to identify and neutralise threats in real-time. 

It’s important for businesses to ensure XDR and anti-malware tools are regularly updated (and reconfigured, if necessary) to stay ahead of emerging threats. Alternatively, a managed XDR from a trusted provider can help ensure ongoing optimal cyber protection. 

4. Keep up to date 

Updates are importantly more widely, in fact. Unpatched and out-of-date systems leave businesses vulnerable to attack, so regularly updating software, operating systems and applications is a fundamental means of maintaining a secure IT environment.  

Cyber criminals often exploit weak points in outdated systems, so businesses should implement a proactive patch management strategy to address potential security gaps before they become a problem.  

It’s also important for key cyber security personnel to stay informed about the latest cyber security threats and trends, so businesses may wish to prioritise a commitment to providing continuous training and awareness programmes for team members.

5. Protect your data 

Safeguarding sensitive data is paramount when it comes to preventing breaches and leaks. But you can’t protect what you can’t see, so businesses should make a point of knowing what their most important data is, where it sits, and what protections are in place to secure it.  

To ensure safeguarding data is an everyday practice, businesses should enact specific policies and protocols around data classification that prioritise sensitive data and allow for tailored protective measures.  

To mitigate the risk of unauthorised access, sensitive data should be encrypted while it’s both at rest and in transit. It should also be regularly backed up (ideally to an immutable backup) and restore processes should be regularly tested to ensure business continuity in the event of a cyber incident. 

Improved cyber resilience as standard 

Despite the ongoing threat of cyber-attack, businesses needn’t accept becoming a victim as an inevitability. As the cyber resilience bell curve diagram shows us, in the starkest of visuals, businesses can protect themselves against a massive 99% of attacks by implementing just a few basic practices. 

At BCN, we’re on a mission to protect ourselves and our customers against the growing threat of cyber-attack. Our Cyber Security Pledge sets out how we aim to have 100% of our customers protected to Cyber Essentials standard by the end of 2024, and is a commitment to working alongside businesses to make the digital world safer for us all.

Get in touch to learn how we can help you protect your business

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