Cyber 101: How to Harden Your System Against Cyber Criminals

The end of the year is busy for everyone – especially for threat actors.

Cyber criminals have always taken advantage of the countless holiday deals and discounts, but this year is a larger opportunity for them than ever. Cyber attacks are already on the rise due to COVID-19, but online activity is about to spike even more with customers shopping from home, and attackers are ready to take advantage of it.

As always, the burden of protecting private customer data falls on the MSPs, tasked with keeping their clients’ networks and information safe. And even outside of the larger uptick in online activity, the task seems more challenging than ever. After all, if a client doesn’t have retail operations, they’re probably using retail sites themselves for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. And if a retailer falls victim to a breach, and a customer or employee’s data is taken, there’s always the risk that an attacker will attempt to access that customer’s work device.

That’s why it’s important to account for the education of your own team while helping your customers’ businesses. Even with strengthened defenses and increased monitoring, one of the most vital layers of protection is the human element.

Here are a few things that you can do to make that happen:

  • Remind your whole team AND your end customers to stay safe during the holiday season, even if they’re off the clock. Threat actors will take advantage of any weakness they find, and attempt to gain access to company credentials through your personal devices.
  • One of the best tactics is to offer quick Security Awareness training sessions. In 15-30 minutes, you should run through how to identify a suspicious email, and recognize common voice or physical scams.
  • If your end customer has retail operations, make sure to increase their monitoring and make sure their cyber solutions are up to date. You should also check in with them before Black Friday to make sure their point-of-sale (POS) systems are up to date. If patches emerge in the middle of a rush hour, take the time to update your systems no matter how busy you are, to avoid attackers who will take advantage of the chaos of peak activity. For example, one recently discovered vulnerability targets restaurant POS systems.
  • For your part, if you work with retail clients, you may want to keep your guard up, as attackers will target MSPs to go after several businesses and capitalize on retail customer data at the same time.
  • Set up easy-to-use self-reporting of any suspicious activity or accidental violations of cybersecurity for your end customers and staff to use. It’s better to catch mistakes early and properly train a team member to avoid common cyber hygiene mistakes rather than leave the problem unaddressed and to discover a breach when it’s too late. Employees will make mistakes, and by addressing these mistakes early on, you can establish another layer of protection around your valuable data.

Threat actors are incredibly dangerous, but there are always steps you can take to prevent, detect or contain any potential attacks. And by establishing healthy lines of communication between an MSP and an end customer’s team, you can make sure that your defenses are secure in both the holiday season and in the long term. If you’re interested in fortifying your cyber protection with SKOUT, we have several Cyber Monday deals that make our cyber-as-a-service solutions more accessible than ever.

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