Equifax, Verizon, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Kmart are only a few of the companies that were affected by data breaches in 2017. If you own a business or are concerned about the safety of your data, there are a few cybersecurity tools you can use to protect yourself from attacks.

Antivirus And Firewall

Antiviruses and firewalls are two different tools. They are often bundled and offered as cyber security software and included when you purchase a new laptop.

Antivirus software protects your machine by identifying potential viruses. A virus is a line of code or program designed to spread from one machine to another, for instance via an email attachment or as a line of malicious code hidden in an ad you would see online.

Some viruses delete your data while others collect sensitive information such as your credit card details. Antivirus software scans programs and identifies viruses by comparing suspicious codes to a database.

Keep in mind that you need to update your antivirus regularly. Updates typically provide your antivirus with new database entries that can be used to recognize the latest viruses and malware.

You also need to use antivirus software developed by a reputable company that will update its database on a regular basis. Even though there are free options to choose from, you should consider investing in a quality antivirus that will be updated regularly.

Don’t forget to protect your Smartphone. More hackers are targeting phones which are often left unprotected because users don’t realize they can install antivirus software on their phone.

A firewall has a different purpose. This application will monitor what your machine sends or receives over a network. Your firewall can block suspicious programs from connecting to the Internet as well as stop suspicious downloads. You can manually block programs if you know your machine is infected or let your firewall detect suspicious programs by itself.

Remote Browsers

The browsers and plug-ins you use to access the Internet can be targeted by viruses. Hackers often hide lines of harmful codes in web pages or ads to target a security flaw in a browser. You don’t need to click on an ad or visit a malicious website to be infected.

Antivirus software can’t stop every single threat you will encounter on the Internet. Your antivirus recognizes malware by comparing the code to an existing database of known viruses. Even though these databases are regularly updated, your antivirus might not catch everything.

A remote browser is an application that is run on a remote server. Your machine will send requests to this server and receive a visual representation of the content you want to access. If there is malicious code hidden on a website, it will affect the remote server but will never reach your computer.

This approach is similar to virtual machines but is faster and much easier to implement since you only need to run a browser on a remote server.

Endpoint Threat Detection And Response

This is a more advanced cyber security tool that a business would use to protect its network. An endpoint threat detection and response system can be used as a complement to antivirus software.

While antivirus software will compare suspicious codes to a database of known viruses, an endpoint threat detection and response solution will focus on the behavior of an endpoint. An endpoint could be a workstation or a laptop connected to a company’s network.

Endpoint threat detection and response are becoming more common as businesses switch to a Bring Your Own Device approach. It is difficult to make sure that every device connected to a company’s network is properly protected with antivirus software, but an endpoint threat detection and response will still keep sensitive data safe.

These tools can keep track of data being created on the endpoint and review what kind of data is accessed and modified. You can configure your endpoint threat detection and response solution to automatically take action when suspicious behavior is detected.

For instance, a laptop downloading a large quantity of sensitive data could be locked out of the company’s network.

The advantage of using this type of cybersecurity solution is that it can detect attacks coming from outside of a network as well as insider threats. Being able to respond to a threat in real-time is crucial when it comes to protecting valuable data.

Network Traffic Monitor

A network traffic monitor is another cybersecurity tool often used by businesses. This type of solution analyzes traffic on a company’s network. Most network traffic monitor solutions include a built-in firewall, but these tools do a lot more than blocking unauthorized traffic.

A network traffic monitor can recognize usual traffic patterns on a network and detect unusual activities. You can configure your network traffic monitor to take specific actions in certain situations, such as blocking traffic or allocating different priorities.

This is a popular cybersecurity solution because it gives businesses more visibility over a network. It can identify slow applications, detect issues like traffic bottlenecks, and deliver analytics that will help a business optimize a network.

This tool can also detect unusual traffic patterns, for instance from viruses sending sensitive data outside of the network. You can set up your network traffic monitor to track a data format, for instance, to detect when payment information as it is leaving your network.

You can keep track of unusual bandwidth usage, which is something that could indicate large quantities of valuable data being downloaded by a user.

And more importantly, a network traffic monitor can protect you from a DDoS attack. A DDoS attack is a technique used by hackers to access sensitive information. It consists of flooding bandwidth or servers with as much traffic as possible. A network traffic monitor can detect this unusual activity and protect the network by shutting it down.

Deception Technology

Hackers and viruses typically look for something when they enter your network. They might look for a data format, a server, or for endpoints.

Deception technology can protect sensitive data by creating decoys that will be targeted instead. This strategy can be as simple or as complex as you need it to be.

A honeypot would be an example of a simple deception strategy. You would create a database or a file made to look like it contains the payment information of your customers. A hacker will find the file, assume they have acquired valuable data and will stop looking.

Cyber security companies can create more advanced solutions based on deception. It is possible to create an entire false network and to have hackers and viruses automatically redirected to this false network.

For instance, a virus could be tricked into thinking it has entered a virtual machine. Viruses typically self-destruct or stop spreading when a virtual environment is detected.

Deception technology can also be used to trick hackers into entering a false network while your cybersecurity system gathers information about them.

Deception technology could be the next big thing in cybersecurity as these systems become more complex and harder to detect. This market is expected to reach $1.33 billion by 2020.

Education

Most data breaches can be traced to a human error or at least to negligence. Protecting your sensitive data with the solutions mentioned above will make you less likely to become the victim of a data breach, but you shouldn’t neglect education.

Here are some strategies you can use to make your computer or network safer:

  • Look for flaws that could be used as backdoor entry points, such as administrator accounts with weak passwords.
  • Develop and enforce a strong password policy. Change passwords often and make sure everyone is using long passwords.
  • You should have policies regarding how data is created, stored, and accessed. Don’t keep sensitive data any longer than you have to.
  • Assess who needs to have access to sensitive data like payment information and review these authorizations regularly.
  • Workstations should be locked with passwords.
  • Use encryption if sensitive data has to be stored on a laptop or USB key.
  • If you work with third-party service providers, restrict their access to sensitive data unless it is necessary.
  • Educate employees about what phishing emails look like and about not downloading suspicious email attachments.

Most of these tips wouldn’t apply to an individual user, but this doesn’t mean education isn’t relevant. Make sure everyone in your household knows about phishing and won’t click on suspicious links and attachments.

If you have older relatives, install antivirus software and a firewall on their devices and update these applications regularly. You should also encourage them to use complex passwords and to change them often.

These are some of the most efficient cybersecurity solutions available at the moment. You should think about using some of these tools at home or for your business and should also stay up to date since cyber security companies are always developing new solutions to respond to changing threats.

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