The Ever-Expanding Threat Landscape in Singapore
Cybersecurity has become one of the top business priorities for businesses in Singapore. The nation has witnessed a sharp rise in data incidents over some past years. This is because of the digital infrastructure and Singapore being the most interconnected and technology advanced cities in the world. 100% of population has a mobile device and there are a large number of wireless access points. That’s why threat actors are always looking to get into the digital network across the country.
The country has already faced one of the worst cyber-attacks of its history in the form of Sing Health incident, a stealing of 1.5 million patients’ data. Espionage and financially motivated attacks are the most common cyber incidents in the country. Such incidents prompted the government to pass the Cybersecurity Act to overlook and enforce cybersecurity in Singapore.
The Concept of Cybersecurity
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting computers, servers, networks, electronic system and data from malicious attacks like hacking and spams.
No matter if you are a small businesses or a big enterprise, cybersecurity has become important, irrespective of your size and type. Taking it lightly makes you vulnerable to these attacks and led to the incident sooner or later. However, cybersecurity is not a straightforward process. For example, you can’t be assured of your security on the mercy of an antivirus or password system alone. Cybersecurity is a detailed approach that includes everything, from risk detection, choosing the right measures to the awareness. Simply put, you need to tick all required boxes. First of all, you need to identify the loopholes in your network. Based on these, you need to create a cybersecurity plan that can cover the existing threat as well as the potential ones.
How to Assess Your Weak Security Points
Risk assessment is an important thing to consolidate your cybersecurity. Once you identify the risks, you can create a robust plan to minimize or keep the risks at bay. Here are some common potential security threats to look for.
Some of the cybersecurity threats are internal. And one of them might be your employees. Sometimes, their negligence and ignorance is often to blame for putting businesses at risk. From being tricked into phishing emails, downloading files that turn out to be malware, to being a victim of email compromise scams, employees often make up a big liability when it comes to cyber security. Although their practices might not be malicious or driven by bad intentions, data incidents are often a case of employee acting in good faith in response to malicious minds. For example, a Boeing’s employee accidently disclosed the personal data of 36,000 colleagues to his spouse when he was taking help formatting that data document. Although it was an innocent mistake, it is an example how negligence can lead to big incidents.
But it can’t be denied that your ex-employees might pose threat to your data. For example, some of them can sell your information out of vengeance or for making money. That’s why one of the blind-spots in your cybersecurity is your people.
Passwords can make another weak point in your cybersecurity. In almost all companies, there are many instances of weak and reused passwords. And weak passwords are often the top reasons behind security incidents. Cracking the passwords like ABCD, 1234, or your date of birth are no more challenging for today’s hackers.
Business processes are not always taken into consideration while assessing cybersecurity polices and working to figure out loopholes. Your business processes can play important role in cybersecurity. This aspect encompasses everything from how you identify gaps in security to how you fix them. Creating strong and effective processes isn’t something you can do overnight. It’s easy to count entirely on technology as a shield to stay protected, but it takes beyond software to safeguard your network ecosystem. Therefore, you are required to work over information assets like internal, public, sensitive, and regulated and so on. Also, identify the impact of the data incident on your organization.
Many workplaces allow their employees to bring their own devices to work so that they can feel comfortable working with them. However, it is another major threat in cybersecurity to watch for. For example, devices under this policy often contain sensitive information. What happen if they are stolen or lost?
The importance of software updates has become more important than ever, thanks to the threats like WannaCry and Petya outbreaks. These attacks made their way into the system after exploiting the vulnerability in the Windows OS known as Eternal Blue that let the malware to spread within the network. The WannaCry attack occurred in May while Microsoft released patch for the Eternal Blue in March. The risk can be greatly reduced with the timely installation of those patches.
The point is here that dated software frequently can increase the risk.
Businesses have also to worry about the cyber security protocols of their clients, vendors or their partners. They might not have the solid cybersecurity practices in place, making them the vulnerable link.
If a threat actor can get into the network of those parties associated with your network, they can gain access to your data. Here you need to have network segmentation or dedicated servers so that the attack can’t get into your network. Also, you need to ask your potential vendors or business partners if they have solid cyber security. Read out our Whitepaper to know about some interesting facts.
How to Protect Your Data?
So you must have understood how to identify your security vulnerabilities. However, spotting your security loop is not enough. You need to work over the things to fix them. And it is possible with a robust cybersecurity plan for your data. This plan will cover your network ecosystem, business practices, devices and software.
Here are some important steps to safeguard your data.
Create a Strategy:
Rather than having a vague or verbal policy and procedures, businesses of all sizes should create a formal IT security plan that’s as exhaustive and comprehensive as possible. It’s important that it not only lays out how to safeguard data and resources, but what to do when incident occurs. An incident-response plan keeps you a step ahead, rather than making any decisions out of frustration that might worsen the things. Make sure to keep your security policy updated and accessible to all.
Keep Malware at Bay:
Safeguarding your network and devices against malware is an important cybersecurity step. Malicious software that can lead to huge amounts of data damage, malware can infect unprotected devices without you even knowing about it.
To keep malware at bay, make sure to practice these key steps:
- Apply the firewall that is your first line of defense.
- Install security tools that can deal with suspect websites, identity theft and hacking.
- Install anti-spam software to keep your emails clear of unwanted emails.
Know the Flow of Your Data:
Where your data is being stored? How it is processed? By precisely identifying the flow of your data and its weak points, businesses can take informed decisions concerning the steps being required to protect it. Some enterprises have data discovery tools to scan company networks for sensitive data and, when finding it on computers not being authorized to access it, they can delete or encrypt it. In this age of data protection laws, transparency is important both for compliance and creating effective data protection policies.
Apply Software Updates:
Software vendors often release updates that patch vulnerabilities and bugs when they are discovered. Therefore, updating your software is important, especially on OS. Outdated tools might still contain security flaws that can make you vulnerable to a data or privacy breach. Unfortunately, only 35 percent of tech companies consider updating and patching as their top security priorities, according to a Google study. Further, the study found that many employees just doesn’t update as they don’t want to be interrupted from their tasks. Therefore, it is also important to have a patch plan so that your team can ensure that all devices are updated and patched.
Protect Your Wireless Network:
Having a wireless network requires you to be more careful towards your cybersecurity. Make sure to apply the strongest encryption setting to your router, and turn off the broadcasting function to make your wireless network invisible. After all, hackers are less likely to attack what they can’t actually find.
Create Strong Passwords:
Even something as simple as a password can be a major security concern. Simple passwords are easy to crack with the latest hacking tools, requiring you to make your passwords complex.
Here are some tips to protect your password:
- Make passwords at least 8 characters long and it should include numbers, special characters and alphabets.
- Don’t share your passwords with anyone other than authorized person.
- Change your passwords more often.
Dispose of Data Appropriately:
Having the appropriate measures to dispose of data is also an important factor to minimize the risk of a data incident. For example, the data should be removed from the retired and reused devices so that it can’t fall into the malicious hands. Keep in mind that your data might not be deleted completely with hard drive formatting. Top of that, there are some tools that can restore the data even from the broken devices. If you have a large amount of devices to be disposed of, choose an IT disposal partner that can make your data unrecoverable from the discarded devices.
Protect Your Data in the Cloud:
The cloud has been gaining momentum among businesses of all sizes. After all, it lets the business store, process, and collaborates from anywhere. However, cloud technology has its own share of concerns. Since the data is stored over the Internet or data centers in other geographical location, cloud service can be a major security concern. Although cloud vendors have their rigorous security measures, you need to take care of your data in the cloud.
Another strategy involves encrypting sensitive data before it is transferred to the cloud.
Here are some tips to secure your data over the cloud:
- Use private cloud to store your sensitive data. Public cloud could be risky due to its shared infrastructure.
- Back up your data locally before sending it over the cloud.
- Use cloud services that encrypts data.
- Always discuss the security concerns with your cloud vendor.
- Use strong password or apply two-step verification.
Educate Your Employees:
Human factor is one of the top reasons why data incident happens. According to one study, employees account for over 50% of data breaches.
Sometimes employee click on the malicious emails intended to get their sensitive information. Sometimes they leave their devices or forget to log off their PC’s. Sometimes they use infected devices in the network. Although their intentions are not malicious or it can be innocent mistakes, the outcomes of this negligence are often costly. Therefore, educate your employees on cybersecurity at all levels.
Here are some important things to include while educating your employees on cybersecurity.
- Train them to recognize phishing and other forms of attack.
- Encourage them to report the attacks.
- Conduct cybersecurity seminars or training sessions.
- Send them fake mails to know how many of them actually click over that.
- Put up cybersecurity instructions on their working desk.
While Singapore is on the way to become the digital nation of the world, the ever-increasing cyber threats can’t be sidelined. Good thing is that most cyber threats can be avoided with preventive practices. These practices will include everything, from using the updated tools, creating cybersecurity policies to assessing your weak points. The concept of data protection in modern days is to create a plan that covers both existing and potential threats.