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“See Yourself in Cyber” and Stay Ahead of Cybersecurity Threats – Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2022

What comes to mind when you hear the term “cybersecurity”? Chances are, you think of devices, AI, automation, networks, etc. working to protect valuable information, data, and assets from cyber threats. You probably don’t picture users as a major part of cybersecurity. However, in order for organizations to have a solid cybersecurity program, they must empower users to become perhaps their greatest security asset. For Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2022, we have put together five tips to help users “see yourself in cyber” through technology and best practices.

1. Know your data, protect your data

You can’t protect data you don’t know you have. One of the first steps you can take to stay ahead of cyber threats is to be aware of what data you possess, so you know the degree of protection it requires and can take the appropriate precautions. However, with the vast amount of data organizations create and store in today’s world, it can be difficult to keep track of your data and where it resides in your system. Data Classification solutions can help you locate and label all of your data, so you can understand how to better protect it. There are two main types of data classification:

  • User-based classification – Requires the user to manually select a classification label for each document upon creation, edit, review, or dissemination, taking advantage of the user’s knowledge of the sensitivity of the document.
  • Automated classification – Involves the automatic application of a classification for a particular file or email by a pre-defined rule set, such as matching keywords or expressions found in the content from a given list or identifying other characteristics of the file.

By combining these two classification approaches, organizations can provide an element of support while still involving users in the solution. For example, default automated labeling may be applied based on a user group or department, reducing the need for manual user involvement, however maintaining user involvement by ensuring the accuracy of the applied classification labels.

By being involved in the data classification process, users become more aware of the data they have, how it is being handled, and what degree of protection it requires. It is up to your organization to include users as part of the data classification process and understand the important role that they play in the security of data.

2. Build a strong DLP program

Data Loss Prevention (DLP) is one of the most prevalent and useful tools for protecting data. In order for DLP to be fully effective, it is imperative to involve organizational leadership from the get-go. Involving top-level users when developing a policy means that when you come to implement DLP, it is tailored to the organization’s needs. Subsequently, users are then able to give real-time feedback about how the solution affects their workflow, and adjustments can be made as necessary to make sure all your users are on board. Gartner recommends a five-step process for a successful DLP implementation framework and a goal for each step:

DLP Step #1: Scope the program

Goal: Provide insight into data and business practices to allow DLP to address real issues without prompting disruption.

DLP Step #2: Start awareness and governance activities

Goal: Build a plan to communicate to all parties what is happening with data, why it is happening, the benefits, and the likely impacts on them.

DLP Step #3: Design initial architecture

Goal: Map your DLP use cases (detection and context requirements) to each enforcement point.

DLP Step #4: Begin to address dependencies

Goal: Push for improvements on some of the dependencies identified early on.

DLP Step #5: Deploy, operate, and evolve

Goal: Start small and deploy in stages, as DLP rollouts can be disruptive.

Each one of these steps involves a combination of people working with technology in order to achieve the goal of risk reduction and data security. Within the building and implementation phase of your DLP solution, you can think of user involvement in DLP like human and cars. A car gives you a tool to go places, but you must operate and drive it in the right direction to get where you want to go.

3. Recognize the signs of phishing attempts

Phishing is one of the most common cyber threats and can trick even the most cautious and experienced individual if they are not careful. Keep yourself and your organization protected from cyber threats by recognizing the signs of a phishing email, which can include, but are not limited to:

  • Suspicious links

One of the easiest ways to identify a phishing email is to see if there are links with text above them asking you to do something such as click, login, or confirm something. A simple way to tell if a link is a phishing attempt is to hover over it with your mouse (but don’t click) and see if what pops up while hovering matches the actual link. If the initial link shows one site but when hovered over, it shows a redirect to a strange site, that is a sure sign of a phishing link.

  • Public or misspelled domain names

Seeing a public domain with a professional brand (i.e. paypal@gmail.com) or a misspelled version of a brand (i.e. info@netflicks.com) is an automatic red flag that the email is not from that brand and is a phishing attempt. Always use caution if you receive an email from an address with a public domain (such as gmail.com or yahoo.com) from someone who isn’t in your contacts list or from a misspelled brand domain name.

  • Implying threats or a sense of urgency

It is common for phishing emails to try to unnerve or threaten you by saying things like “Immediate Action Required” or “Your Account is About to be Suspended, Final Warning”. These statements are meant to fluster you, so you quickly take the action they want, rather carefully reading and examining the email first. Stay calm and read through the entire email before clicking on anything.

Knowing a few key signs of phishing to watch for greatly reduces the risk that you will fall victim to a phishing attack. In addition to you knowing the signs of a phishing email, implementing a phishing defense and response solution helps prevent these emails from reaching inboxes and can assess risk and mitigate damage quickly when a phishing attack is reported. Combining a solution such as this, with education and awareness around phishing tactics, provides users with the tools they need to build a solid foundation for digital communication.

4. Encrypt to control access to intellectual property

We’ve all done things that later, we wish we could take back, and the digital world is no different and just as unforgiving. The minute you share a file or link, directly or by email, you lose control over how, when, and where that data will be used. That is, unless you are utilizing a Digital Rights Management (DRM) solution. These solutions work to protect highly sensitive files and data (such as copyrighted material) by wrapping code around the file, encrypting it, and then only the parties designated to access the file can do so.

A DRM solution allows you to revoke access from designated parties at any time, so they can no longer access it. This is very helpful if you initially sent intellectual property or organizational data to someone and later, for one reason or another, you no longer want them to have access to that document. However, just because you can control the file and revoke access doesn’t mean that you can be careless with content.

In addition to protecting files and controlling access, a DRM solution can help educate users about copyright and intellectual property. Most users don’t give DRM any thought, even though it is used in almost every industry (for example, Apple uses DRM to limit the number of devices a song can be downloaded to). Having a DRM solution lets the owner of the content (be it an organization or individual) communicate to users what they can and cannot do regarding that content.

5. Secure data on the go

As previously mentioned, organizations create a vast amount of data and with that comes an increase in cyber threats, therefore, users must take more precautions when sharing sensitive files. A Managed File Transfer (MFT) solution provides a secure way to send sensitive files and data internally or externally between systems, employees, customers, and trading partners. Many MFT solutions can also assist in file transfers by letting you set up bulk or repeating transfers, using auto-resume to ensure files make it to their destination with no need for troubleshooting, and creating logs to get a global look at transfers months after they’re complete. In addition to securely transferring sensitive files, there are numerous other benefits and reasons for implementing a MFT solution, which include:

  • Meeting compliance requirements
  • The ability to audit or monitor file transfer activity
  • Adaptable processes that help reduce human error
  • Complete control of information
  • Advanced capabilities and support for multiple platforms and devices
  • Educates users on data security

With email, text, and social media apps at our fingertips, you can easily send anyone, anything from anywhere… but that doesn’t mean you should! While these methods are convenient, sending sensitive data or files, such as tax forms, official records, and bank statements over these aforementioned methods, leaves sensitive information and files vulnerable for anyone to potentially intercept and steal, resulting in data loss and exposure. Being aware that there are secure transfer options such as MFT solutions and knowing what files and data should be sent using MFT, is key to keeping data secure and safe from cyber threats.

Think before you click!

Whether you are an individual or consumer, and at home, at school, or at work, users have a responsibility to ensure the decisions they make regarding cybersecurity are smart, sensible, and well thought out. However, in order to ensure users make the right decisions in the business environment, organizations need to provide them with the proper training and software to aid them in the process. Solutions such as data classification, DLP, phishing defense and response, DRM, and MFT are tools that are meant to aid users and organizations in keeping data secure, while empowering them to be conscientious of the data they handle and work with. Combining human expertise and best practices with best-of-breed data protection technology and processes, provides the ultimate defense against cybersecurity threats.

When planning your cybersecurity strategy, look to Fortra for the widest offering of security solutions that can be customized to your organization’s needs while simplifying and increasing the effectiveness of data security. Learn more about how Fortra software capabilities can benefit your organization by booking your free demo today!

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