Protection against cyber threats is an increasingly important factor to consider when developing IT systems for businesses and other organizations. A recent and worrying report has highlighted how cybercriminals can infiltrate 93% of current company networks. The study was conducted on organizations operating in industries as diverse as energy, IT, and financial services.
Equally alarming is the data published in a Forbes article regarding a 15% increase in data breaches and cyber attacks in 2021, also highlighting the fact that only 50% of US businesses have prepared a cybersecurity plan. The article noted how educational institutions, government bodies, and communications companies are among the most exposed organizations to cyberattacks.
Let’s explore the most essential cybersecurity factors that those in charge of developing systems must take into account.
Coordination Between Cyber and Physical Security
When planning your security strategy, you need to make sure that cyber and physical security are coordinated in a way that allows them to complement and reinforce each other.
Security measures have traditionally been handled as standalone functions without taking into account the possible connections between physical threats and digital ones. However, this approach is both inefficient and risky in our day and age.
On the one hand, increased physical security can reduce the risk of unauthorized access to places where sensitive data are stored, for example, by installing access control and video security systems for any space that hosts such data. Moreover, integrating and leveraging various IoT devices can also provide additional protection through enriched data that allow for more productive and accurate workflows for security.
For example, a school’s system developer would have to know which classroom security locks to install depending on which room must be secured. While a basic lock may suffice for a basic classroom, spaces containing the school’s on-premise services would definitely need more robust ones.
On the other hand, cyber security measures can protect sensitive data stored in cloud-based physical security hardware. Nowadays, many organizations use hybrid systems that include both on-prem and cloud-based components. While this model provides many advantages in terms of efficiency and flexibility, it requires additional consideration regarding cyber security risks. For example, allowing employees to access the company’s application from anywhere also increases the organization’s exposure to hacking and phishing attacks. System developers must be fully aware of these risks and adopt appropriate measures, ranging from stronger encryption to multi-factor authentication.
Cybersecurity Training for Employees
An issue often observed in many organizations is the lack of adequate awareness and understanding of cyber threats and appropriate countermeasures in an organization’s workforce. In order for employees to give their maximum contribution to the security of the company, it’s important to provide training to both new hires and existing workers. Among other things, it’s essential for employees:
- to become fully aware of the fact that it’s each member’s responsibility to protect the organization’s data
- to know how to select hacker-proof passwords
- to learn how to report data incidents
- to avoid installing unlicensed apps
- to avoid clicking on suspicious links or responding to dubious emails
- to back up essential data
- to take measures against the theft of laptops or smartphones containing sensitive company data.
Boosting Cybersecurity with a Zero Trust Architecture
Zero Trust is a term that has become very popular in cybersecurity conversation. It refers to an architecture that requires all users to be authenticated and repeatedly validated for security purposes before they can access data and use applications. This strategy applies to users in any location, including remote workers, and takes into account the increasing use of hybrid cloud systems by organizations.
The name Zero Trust refers to overcoming the idea that everything that is inside of an organization’s network should automatically be trusted, an idea that doesn’t take into account the risk of malicious insiders accessing and exfiltrating sensitive data.
A Zero Trust organization applies its principles at all levels, from users to applications to infrastructure. First, it involves strong user authentication measures and the use of least access policies. Second, it is driven by the idea that you can’t trust applications and need continuous supervision at runtime to validate their behavior. Finally, it implies that everything related to the organization’s infrastructure (from IoT to the cloud to the supply chain) should be managed with a Zero Trust attitude.