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9 tips for upgrading cybersecurity in 2024

Picture of Dale Shulmistra

Dale Shulmistra

Data Protection Specialist @ Invenio IT

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Upgrading-Cybersecurity

After a recent ransomware attack on the world’s largest bank, government agencies and businesses around the world are once again asking themselves: are we doing enough to protect our systems?

Upgrading cybersecurity in the era of ransomware can be a daunting task. The threats constantly evolve. Hackers find new attack vectors. And if China’s ICBC can’t protect themselves from an attack, then how can you?

But despite the challenges, upgrading cybersecurity is essential at every organization. And, it doesn’t have to be as complicated or costly as you might think.

New technologies are better than ever at thwarting attacks before they become a problem (including incidents caused by human error).

If your systems are due for an upgrade, here are 9 solutions that should be in your security roadmap for 2024.

1) Managed Threat Detection & Response (MDR)

Early threat detection is one of the most critical components of a business’s cybersecurity efforts. By stopping threats at the first sign of an attack, you can significantly reduce their impact and accelerate remediation. In contrast, if threats like ransomware are allowed to spread, they can wreak havoc across the entire network, locking up servers and endpoints.

The problem is: most companies do not have the IT resources to monitor their environments around the clock. Even with powerful cybersecurity software implemented, businesses can be severely disrupted by zero-day threats and fileless attacks, which evade detection.

Managed threat detection and response (MDR) solves this by delivering cybersecurity as a service, 24 hours a day.

What is it?

  • A managed security service provided by external cybersecurity professionals.
  • MDR acts like a third-party security operations center (SOC), monitoring, investigating and responding to security alerts 24/7.
  • Combines remotely managed cybersecurity software (increasingly enhanced with AI and machine learning) with human-led threat response to deliver a more robust level of security.

Why upgrade now?

  • Enables businesses to detect and neutralize threats much faster.
  • Reduces the risks and costs associated with security incidents.
  • Frees up internal IT teams to focus on other big-picture technology initiatives.

Recommended solution:

2) Ransomware-Proof Backup Solutions

While no backup system is completely “ransomware-proof,” some provide far better protection against this dangerous threat.

Ransomware has become one of the biggest risks for today’s businesses, affecting more than 72% of companies globally, according to data from Statista. Ransomware works by encrypting all your data—including software and O/S files. This can render your computer systems inoperable, effectively bringing your business to a halt. Paying the ransom to restore your files is usually inadvisable. So generally the only way to recover your data is to restore a backup. But depending on the scale of the attack and the type of backup solution you use, a full data recovery can take days, weeks or months.

What if your data backup system could help to detect ransomware at the first sign of an infection? Newer solutions from BCDR providers like Datto do exactly that. They feature built-in ransomware detection, which flags suspicious activity, such as mass file modification. Administrators are alerted instantly, so they can take action before the ransomware spreads any further.

What is it?

  • A robust business continuity and disaster recovery solution (BC/DR) that provides additional layers of defense against the threat of ransomware.
  • Ransomware detection is built into the system, automatically scanning each backup for signs of a ransomware footprint.
  • Innovative data restore options also make recovery faster by allowing you to “undo” file changes from a ransomware attack without fully reimaging a machine.

Why upgrade now?

  • Significantly reduces the impact of a ransomware attack by detecting infections earlier.
  • Accelerates recovery speed following a ransomware attack.
  • Helps companies get back to business faster and avoid a major operational disruption.

Recommended solution:

3) Endpoint & Mobile Protection

Users are no longer tethered to a single workstation. Especially in the age of hybrid work, employees use a variety of devices in diverse locations: at home, at the office, in coffeeshops and beyond. While this can be great for productivity, it has created a nightmare for IT professionals who understand the risks. With each new endpoint in use, the security risks increase.

Policy alone is not enough to reduce the risks. Employees will continue to perform important work on non-company-approved devices, even if you tell them not to. But also, it’s not like your company-supplied laptops are immune to threats either – especially when it comes to social engineering attacks, like phishing.

Advanced endpoint protection (including mobile protection) is an essential cybersecurity upgrade for today’s businesses, helping to block threats on every device your employees use.

What is it?

  • A cybersecurity solution that detects and responds to threats on endpoint devices, such as individual PCs, laptops and mobile devices.
  • Commonly referred to as EDR (Endpoint Detection and Response), it employs a variety of defenses to stop threats before they escalate, including AI, behavioral analysis, anti-ransomware and anti-exploitation.
  • In addition to blocking known threats, advanced EDR solutions can detect fileless attacks and zero-day exploits by identifying the techniques used in these attacks.

Why upgrade now?

  • Provides much-needed protection for the wide variety of devices used by today’s workforces.
  • Goes beyond server protection to block threats that attempt to infiltrate individual devices.
  • Significantly reduces the risk of large data breaches and attacks that start at the endpoint.

Recommended solutions:

4) Advanced Firewall Protection

Obviously, firewalls are not a new technology. However, if you haven’t updated your network security in a few years, then you’re probably leaving your systems at risk.

Newer firewall solutions provide deep-packet inspection that is far superior to that of yesterday’s products. This has made firewalls even better at identifying threats within the data on your network. In turn, the firewalls can block malicious traffic from entering your network or spreading laterally from one device to another. The latest solutions also employ smart automation to respond to threats while also prioritizing other traffic, so that there’s little to no impact on the rest of your network. Plus, providers like Sophos allow integration with their other cybersecurity solutions, including threat detection and endpoint protection, to make threat response even smarter and more effective.

What is it?

  • Advanced firewalls provide greater protection against malicious traffic and block threats automatically.
  • Firewalls with built-in ZTNA (zero-trust network access) enable remote employees to securely access applications and files on the network with much tighter safeguards than traditional VPNs.
  • Integrated threat response technology provides more powerful deep-packet inspection to stop threats in their tracks.

Why upgrade now?

  • Provides greater network protection and performance for today’s diverse, distributed and encrypted networks.
  • Reduces threat response time from minutes to seconds.
  • Automatically detects and stops threats before they can spread.

Recommended solution:

5) Zero Trust Network Access & Application Allowlisting

Tightening access to network resources is one of the most effective ways to reduce your exposure to threats. Zero trust does exactly that. It’s a security principle that dictates that no user, device or software should be trusted unless it has been authorized and authenticated.

There are two core areas where zero trust is most critical: network access and application processes. Let’s look at both.

Networks: While the use of VPNs have been a standard practice for remote network access for many years, they come with many risks. For starters, VPNs typically allow full access to a network, exposing it to the risks of malware, spoofing, DDoS attacks and other threats. These risks increase tenfold when companies provide VPN access to third-party vendors, who may not have the best security practices in place. If any of those vendors is compromised, or a user performs malicious activity, your entire network could be at risk.

Of course, there are ways to tighten the security of VPNs. But often, this comes with a negative impact on connection speeds and application performance, ultimately hurting the productivity (and morale) of your workforce. Zero trust provides the granular network access control that a VPN doesn’t. It enables companies to easily specify controls over what each user can access on the network and how.

Applications: The same controls must apply to applications. 95% of ransomware is deployed by malicious executable files. Zero trust can stop ransomware in its tracks by blocking those programs from running, by default. Solutions like ThreatLocker Allowlisting give you granular control over which applications can run (and which users/devices can access them), while blocking everything else.

What is it?

  • Zero trust provides secure access to data, applications and services, based on specific controls set by your organization.
  • Access control can be extremely granular. For example, you can allow authorized users to access specific folders, drives and applications – or disallow all except for critical applications.
  • Zero trust solutions verify the user’s identity and context, and determine whether they are authorized to access the application or device. Unauthorized users can also generally request access to other programs, which must be manually approved by admins.

Why upgrade now?

  • Provides more granular control over remote access to network resources, including data, apps and services.
  • Reduces your attack surface, making it much more difficult for attackers to gain access to your systems.
  • Much easier to deploy and manage than VPNs.
  • If an initial breach does occur, zero trust greatly minimizes the impact.

Recommended solution:

6) SaaS Application Backup

SaaS has changed the way we work. Organizations increasingly use cloud-based applications to power their operations, rather than on-premise software installed on local PCs. There is no denying the benefits: cloud apps allow users to work from virtually anywhere. Plus, deployment and scaling are infinitely easier as everything is hosted by the cloud vendor.

However, this also means that a ton of data is now being stored in the cloud, on third-party servers, as opposed to local servers, where data is traditionally backed up. Cloud-based data storage gives a false sense of security, especially when you’re using apps from tech titans like Google and Microsoft. More than 1 in 3 businesses experiences SaaS data loss due to a wide range of factors, including accidental and malicious deletion, expired licenses, misconfigurations and faulty integrations.

SaaS data loss of any kind can be costly and disruptive for any organization. Large-scale incidents can devastate a business. This is why SaaS backup has become essential. By backing up cloud applications with independent third-party solutions, organizations can quickly recover their data, regardless of the cause or scale of the incident.

What is it?

  • A cloud-based backup solution that replicates data stored within SaaS applications to a secondary, independent cloud.
  • SaaS backup solutions typically provide instant recovery of lost data, restored directly back into the user’s account or exportable by admins.
  • Some backup solutions also scan your SaaS data for signs of malware, neutralizing threats automatically.

Why upgrade now?

  • SaaS application data is at risk of deletion in several ways. Without an independent cloud backup, your data may be permanently erased.
  • With the exception of recycle bin functionality, which is very limited, most SaaS solutions do not offer a way to recover lost data. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
  • Ensures organizations stay in compliance with regulations for data retention and security.

Recommended solutions:

7) Fileless Attack Prevention

We’ve mentioned how solutions like MDR and EDR are now critical for preventing fileless attacks, which exploit otherwise legitimate software and systems without the use of traditional malware. But the increased risk of such attacks will typically require companies to deploy multiple layers of defense.

The rate of fileless attacks surged by 1,400% in 2022, so this is a threat that isn’t going anytime soon. Delivering traditional malware payloads has become more difficult for hackers as anti-malware and other cybersecurity technologies have improved. With fileless attacks, users don’t necessarily have to open any attachments or click a bad link. Hackers use applications that are already installed on company devices to access and control other systems – a technique known as a living-off-the-land attack. Common examples include a hacker using PowerShell to execute malicious scripts or executing malicious code directly in the system’s memory.

To combat these threats, we strongly recommend upgrading cybersecurity systems to include solutions that control what actions an application can take and, more precisely, how applications can interact with one another.

What is it?

  • A cybersecurity solution that prevents fileless attacks by limiting what applications can do when they’re running.
  • Solutions like Ringfencing from ThreatLocker work by creating a virtual sandbox around each application, preventing it from accessing other resources, applications, the registry or filesystems, unless it is authorized to do so.
  • For example, you can restrict Microsoft Word from being able to call PowerShell, preventing an attempted exploit of a known vulnerability (i.e. the Follina vulnerability).

Why upgrade now?

  • Thwarts fileless attacks, which are hard to detect with traditional cybersecurity software, since they don’t rely on traditional malware.
  • Allows you to individually remove file access, application access and registry permissions for applications that do not need them.
  • Capable of blocking threats that are undetectable by traditional EDR.

Recommended solution:

8) VM & Cloud Environment Backup

Today’s businesses are no longer relying exclusively by on-premise hardware. In fact, 90% of companies now use some form of virtualization, according to Middleware. Organizations are also increasingly using cloud environments like Azure Kubernetes to develop and manage their critical applications.

The benefits for businesses are enormous. Organizations can scale faster and stay nimble by reducing their reliance on local infrastructure. Virtual machines and cloud environments also support the hybrid work era, enabling teams to collaborate from anywhere. They also make technology deployments easier to manage, reducing the load on IT teams and ultimately saving money for the business.

However, all of this adds a new layer of risk. If businesses don’t adequately protect their virtual and cloud environments, then an unexpected data-loss incident could cause a massive operational disruption. This is why organizations must routinely back up their virtual machines and cloud workloads, in addition to their local servers and endpoints. VM and cloud backups ensure that businesses can rapidly restore their systems after data loss from a cyberattack, accidental deletion, malicious deletion and other common causes.

What is it?

  • Dedicated data backup for virtual machines and cloud environments like Azure Kubernetes.
  • Solutions like Datto provide hourly multi-cloud replication of Microsoft Azure to the Datto Cloud, with the ability to restore or virtualize protected data in seconds.
  • Redstor’s Azure VM backup is an agentless solution that backs up your virtual machines in minutes, replicating them from Azure to Redstor’s cloud.

Why upgrade now?

  • The increased reliance on VMs and cloud environments exposes businesses to the risk of data loss beyond their local backups.
  • Any loss of VM or cloud data can interrupt business and cause significant financial losses.
  • Ransomware and other infections can easily spread to virtual machines and even the physical host system, so it’s critical that these resources are backed up.

Recommended solutions:

9) Multifactor Authentication

If you haven’t implemented multifactor authentication (MFA) by now, then you’ve become too lax about your cybersecurity. So many of today’s most common cyberattacks originate from incidents involving compromised passwords. Brute-force attacks, phishing scams, credential stuffing, stolen passwords – you name it. MFA prevents these attacks by requiring an additional layer of verification during the authentication process. Most commonly, users must verify their login on a second device with an authenticator app like Duo.

MFA is not new. But as companies use an ever-growing number of business-critical applications, their attack surface has widened dramatically. Each additional user login creates a new risk of an account being compromised. And often, companies aren’t even aware that their systems have been breached until it’s too late: after an attack has been deployed through the compromised account.

MFA has become a critical line of defense against these attacks. It ensures that only your authorized users are gaining access to your apps and systems. Security can be strengthened even further with single sign-on (SSO), which allows users to access multiple applications with a single set of credentials.

What is it?

  • A multistep login process that requires users to authenticate their credentials via a secondary method, device or application.
  • Common authentication options include biometrics (fingerprint, voice, facial recognition, etc.), tokens, passcodes and mobile authentication apps.
  • Multi-factor authentication can be added to nearly any existing environment or platform, including in-house and third-party apps, network logins, SaaS apps and more.

Why upgrade now?

  • MFA makes it harder for malware and attackers to access secure accounts, even if credentials have been stolen.
  • 81% of hacking-related breaches stem from stolen, weak or reused passwords, according to Duo.
  • By requiring an extra authentication step, MFA ensures that only your authorized users can gain access to their accounts.

Recommended solution:

Conclusion

Upgrading cybersecurity is essential for blocking the latest threats at every organization. Since attackers are constantly adjusting their methods to get past security implementations, businesses must routinely evaluate their deployments and replace outdated technology. In the current security landscape, some of the most critical upgrades include managed threat detection and response (MDR), endpoint protection, advanced firewalls, application allowlisting and multifactor authentication (MFA). Additionally, in the event of a successful attack, businesses must be sure they can restore any lost data by deploying reliable backups for servers, endpoints, SaaS applications, VMs and cloud environments.

Frequently Asked Questions about Upgrading Cybersecurity

1. How do we upgrade our cybersecurity?

The first step to upgrading cybersecurity is identifying vulnerabilities within existing security deployments. This helps to determine which upgrades are needed to fill security gaps in specific areas, such as email, networks, applications, data and backups. Upgrades should be prioritized by the impact severity of a potential breach to those systems.

2. What is the most important cybersecurity upgrade?

Identifying the most important cybersecurity upgrade depends on the specific security needs of each organization. However, a fundamental security approach is applying the principle of least privilege (PoLP). This proposes that access should be restricted to the files, apps and systems that each user needs for their daily role.

A complementary security strategy is zero trust, which is the idea no application request or network access should be granted without strict authentication. This prevents malicious access as well as rogue programs.

3. What are the new cybersecurity trends for 2024?

One cybersecurity trend that continues to gain traction is the move to managed detection and response (MDR). As threats evolve, managing cybersecurity has become too costly and resource-intensive for most organizations. MDR enables businesses to receive 24/7 threat detection and remediation through third-party solutions, which often combine AI with human expertise.

Get expert guidance for upgrading your cybersecurity

If you need help upgrading your organization’s cybersecurity or business continuity solutions, contact our experts at Invenio IT. Call (646) 395-1170, email success@invenioIT.com or schedule a meeting with of one of our data protection specialists.

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