New Year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to keep. In fact, according to this YouGov poll, most Brits failed to keep all the resolutions they made for 2019. It may be hard to believe but we’re now firmly into 2020. In a cyber security context, many organisations will be looking back on another year and another set of lessons learned in what continues to be a challenging cyber security landscape.
Five Cyber Security Resolutions
It isn’t getting any easier for individuals and organisations to remain safe from data breaches. Over the course of 2019 I worked on a number of interesting projects and learned some valuable lessons along the way. Here are five cyber security lessons that I have turned into resolutions for 2020 and beyond:
1. Secure your Microsoft Office 365 deployments. A lack of auditing (along with the skills needed to interpret audit logs) and a continuing failure to use multi-factor authentication resulted in a huge rise in Microsoft Office 365 breaches in 2019. Until organisations change their practices, this trend looks set to continue in 2020. Introduce more stringent auditing and implement multi-factor authentication if you want to avoid suffering a similar fate.
2. Remain vigilant for phishing attacks. Tried and tested. Easy to execute. The cosy sweater of cyber-attacks. Phishing attacks may feel a little old school, but they are still the most common attack vector by a country mile. 2019 saw a 32% rise in successful breaches that resulted from phishing attacks, and it’s worth noting that there have been significant advances in phishing ‘kits’ sold on the black market, enabling cybercriminals to launch ever more advanced and realistic attacks. Remain vigilant and ensure your users receive training on how to identify and deal with suspected phishing attacks.
3. Think hard about your BYOD policy. Holding both business and personal data on the same smartphone sounds like a pretty bad idea, but it’s amazing how many people do it. Beware if you’re one of those people, as fraud on mobile platforms has increased by 680% since 2015. In fact, 60% of online fraud is now conducted via mobile platforms. Worth considering as you review your organisation’s BYOD policy in 2020.
4. Don’t assume the death of ransomware. Depending on who you speak to and what stats you read, ransomware is either dying or thriving. Within consumer markets ransomware saw a significant decline in 2019, but ransomware attacks launched against public sector organisations have almost doubled since 2018. As individuals we can perhaps be less concerned about being targeted by ransomware, but ask any public sector IT Manager and you’ll find that reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.
5. Maintain hands-on cyber security expertise. 2019 saw a significant increase in services that automate cyber incident analysis. Whilst this is good news for smaller organisations, keep in mind that results still need interpretation. To do that accurately and avoid jumping to false positives and incorrect conclusions, there’s nothing that can beat hands-on cybersecurity expertise.
Stay Safe in 2020 and Beyond
There’s a lot to think about as we progress through the early stages of 2020. Make sure cyber security is on the agenda. The more I work with organisations throughout the public and private sectors, the more I am convinced that cyber security isn’t something you can address with a product package or an online training session. Your organisation needs to weave robust cyber security best practices throughout its entire operations, from your CEO’s home office setup to your visitor policies and procedures and everything in between.
Don’t try to boil the ocean, though. If my five cyber security resolutions for 2020 have resonated, consider yours and create an actionable plan to identify and address any weaknesses in your organisation’s cyber security posture. As we stand at the dawn of a new decade, there really is no better time.