Why Cyber Hygiene Is the Foundation for Cybersecurity

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Caroline Dauden, Negosentro |  Personal hygiene is important for maintaining a healthy body. By practicing hygiene through activities like washing your hands and brushing your teeth, you can eliminate many of the possible vectors of disease. However, even the cleanest person on Earth is susceptible to illness – good personal hygiene doesn’t completely eradicate all disease risks. Still, without hygiene, millions more people would fall gravely ill every day, so most people tend to be diligent about upholding their daily hygiene habits.

Meanwhile, cyber hygiene is largely ignored. Though cyber hygiene offers the same benefits to a security strategy as personal hygiene does to physical health, businesses often permit employees to forego basic tenets of cyber hygiene – which makes the business vulnerable to cyberattack. Smart, cyber hygienic practices don’t eliminate all risks, but they do thwart the simplest and most common attack vectors. If you want the foundation of your security strategy to be strong, you need to learn more about the importance of cyber hygiene.

Understand Why Cyber Hygiene Matters

To carry the personal hygiene/cyber hygiene metaphor further, cybersecurity is not unlike public health. One unvaccinated person endangers a community by introducing disease; even if everyone else is inoculated, the presence of infection threatens everyone’s health. Thus, to keep the entire population safe, we get vaccines, wash our hands, and perform other actions that keep the worst diseases at bay.

Similarly, one unprotected device – be it a desktop computer or a smart watch – jeopardizes the security of the entire network. A machine infected with malware will work diligently to infect those around it. Worse, compromised computers can work together to bring down even the best defenses. Thus, participating in cyber hygiene initiatives doesn’t just keep your device safe; it doesn’t just keep your network safe; it improves the safety of all devices and networks around the world.

Experts believe that the number-one cause of security breaches is a lack of proper cyber hygiene. Roughly 90 percent of successful cyberattacks on businesses are the result of human error – error caused by unhygienic behavior. Additionally, many industries are beginning to develop risk and compliance regulations regarding cybersecurity to keep potentially sensitive information safe. Thus, by urging your staff to develop safe and hygienic habits, especially while at work, you can reduce your security risks by an unbelievably significant amount and eliminate fines and fees that prevent your business from growing.

Improve Your Business’s Cyber Hygiene

Fortunately, just as it doesn’t typically take much effort to develop habits like brushing your teeth or washing your hands, you should be able to establish a cyber hygienic workplace in no time. Here are some basic practices you can implement to ensure cyber hygiene on your devices and network:

Survey your risks. Some businesses focus their efforts on protecting just one aspect of their IT environment, like their endpoints or their cloud. However, a holistic approach to security – and cyber hygiene – is much more effective at preventing attack. You should survey the controls throughout your IT environment to understand where you are weakest and how cyber hygiene can improve your security.

Simplify your solutions. You probably don’t need a different service provider for every type of protection. In fact, you might already have access to tools and solutions, and by implementing those first, you can save money and time on your cyber hygiene pursuits.

Train your workforce. As you learn about the fundamental habits of cyber hygiene, you should ensure your workforce knows them, too. More importantly, your staff should understand why cyber hygiene is important. Self-motivation to keep your organization secure is more effective that external drivers, so by training your employees to care about security, you are ensuring better cyber hygiene.

Monitor your network and devices. Monitoring tools can bolster your efforts for a secure and hygienic environment by giving you insight into how your endpoints and network are being used. Plus, some monitoring tools help you maintain a standard level of security across your network and devices, making uniform hygiene easier to achieve.

Develop a response plan. Even the most hygienic workplaces suffer the occasional outbreak of flu. Eventually, your organization will likely experience a cyberattack, and how you immediately respond to that attack will determine how well your business bounces back afterwards. Your response plan will give direction to everyone in your organization, from the IT staff to the public relations team, so your business and brand can survive the attack intact.