According to a recent study, insider data theft is one of the top risks to cybersecurity amongst U.S. Federal Agencies. Cybersecurity threats are becoming more commonplace. With numerous reports of server hacks and data theft, it's critical that organizations understand which security threats are serious and how to best prevent them. In this article, we'll discuss important points from this study, common web hosting security threats, and which best practices help ensure cybersecurity for your organization.
The Study: Cybersecurity & U.S. Federal Agencies
Conducted by SolarWinds, an IT software management company, this study surveyed 200 professionals who work in IT and IT security for the federal government and military. While half of those surveyed stated that external hacking was their top cybersecurity threat, 29% cited insider data leakage and theft as the biggest threats to cybersecurity (Tweet This). They also blamed 42% of breaches on "careless and untrained insiders" (Tweet This).
Why are careless and untrained insiders such a threat to cybersecurity? Forty percent of respondents stated that budget constraints posed the largest obstacle to improving cybersecurity (Tweet This), while 19% cited competing priorities and 14% cited complex internal environments. This data shows that, when it comes to cybersecurity, it is critical for preventative measures to focus on both external and internal threats through the implementation of best practices.
Understanding Web Hosting Security Threats
The first step to preventing cybersecurity breaches is to understand the risks. When it comes to web hosting, a few significant risks are posed. Both shared and VPS hosting servers can be attacked by hackers who upload malicious code or sites, as well as malware, to a server. This creates a problem for any website hosted on that server.
If a client's website has any security vulnerabilities, this also leaves the door open to attack by hackers, who may even use malware to launch a DDoS. A DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service, allows hackers to take control of an entire server and potentially attack other servers. When hackers infiltrate, they can cause a range of problems from stealing identifying data to misusing the network to send spam, leading to blacklisting by email providers.
Cybersecurity Best Practices
To keep cybersecurity threats at bay, follow these best practices:
- Create policies. The most important aspect of ensuring cybersecurity is creating clear policies. By doing so, you improve the likelihood that all employees fully understand cybersecurity risks as well as proper prevention steps, minimizing vulnerability to insider data theft. Policies should include acceptable use, internet access, network security, BYOD, privacy, email and communications, remote access, and encryption.
- Implement firewalls. Implementing firewalls is another key component of cybersecurity. Firewalls allow you to block outsider threats and ensure that unauthorized users are not on your network. However, a firewall must allow usual traffic, including remote access and monitoring.
- Use VPNs. One excellent way to protect data is by using a VPN, or a virtual private network. A VPN secures communications by allowing encrypted data to move through tunnels that are safe from outside intrusion. This means that your computer can both send and receive data privately across a public or shared network.
- Consistently monitor websites for malware. Web hosting providers are beginning to roll out automatic malware-scanning security measures to detect compromised websites immediately and take action on them before worms, viruses, and other security threats can spread to other websites on the server.
- Ensuring encryption. Encrypting data is the main line of defense against cybersecurity breaches. When it comes to your wireless network, you have a few options for data encryption: WEP, WPA, and WPA2. Choose WPA or WPA2, rather than WEP, because these newer encryption protocols have taken the place of the less-secure WEP. Also use a strong password to keep your network safe.
- Limit remote access. While many companies require remote access for their employees, this can be a significant pain point regarding security. Only permit approved users to remotely access your network, and stick to a single approved method for allowing this remote access to your sensitive data.
- Conduct backups. Conducting regular backups is critical to guaranteeing that, in the event of a security breach, all data is protected. Your web hosting provider should offer daily backups to a remote, secure server, ensuring that your data is completely safe.
Author Bio: Drew Hendricks is a tech, social media and environmental addict. He's written for many major publishers such as National Geographic and Technorati.
(Image by elhombredenegro via Flickr)