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Cybersecurity Awareness Month: 5 Best Practices to Protect Your Company

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which is the perfect opportunity to highlight the importance of employee and customer security. This is especially critical as both internet-connected devices and more cybercrime are on the rise. Last year alone, nearly 40 billion records were exposed in data breaches, costing companies an average $3.86 million per attack.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance first launched Cybersecurity Awareness Month over a decade ago in a national effort to protect those online. Since then, individuals and companies have joined the campaign and continue to spread awareness about the importance of cybersecurity. 

As one of the leading web form and data collection platforms, FormAssembly takes an uncompromising stance on cybersecurity with high compliance and data integrity standards. This month, and every month, we remain dedicated to maintaining the highest standards in cybersecurity and encourage our employees and customers to do the same.

To help you improve cybersecurity efforts at your own organization, this blog provides an overview of top cybersecurity threats and some of the best practices you can follow to protect everyone at your organization.

Common cybersecurity threats in 2021

Cybersecurity threats are becoming more common today than ever before. These threats continue to become more sophisticated and harmful, especially in the new age of remote work, making them more likely, but less detectable to those under attack. Even with cybersecurity training, it can be hard to discern what is real and what is a threat.

Remote work environments

Working remotely can leave employees vulnerable to cybersecurity threats simply because they are no longer under the safeguards companies have in place in a physical building. Home networks are less likely to be as secure as business networks, making them easier to target and attack. Employees may work from public locations and on insecure Wi-Fi networks as well. If employees are not taking the proper precautions, such as using a personal hotspot, strong passwords, or two-factor authentication, they are at an increased risk for a hacking or phishing attack.

Phishing and smishing attacks

With the rise in electronic device use for both work and personal, also comes the increased threat of phishing. Employees can receive hundreds of emails in a day, some of which could be a social engineering attack that quietly goes under the radar until it’s too late. Similarly, SMS phishing, or “smishing,” is now becoming a common threat for unaware users who open a text and click a spam link.

Accidental data disclosure

Along with reduced security precautions and heightened cybersecurity attacks, companies are faced with internal threats from employees. Data breaches due to human error still remain one of the biggest threats to a company’s privacy and security. This may occur when users have too much access to sensitive data that is then available for accidental leaks or when work computers are used for personal use or shared with family or friends.

Cybersecurity awareness best practices

The threat of cyberattacks may leave you feeling concerned or vulnerable, but there are many steps organizations can—and should—take to keep data, customers, and employees safe. Here are the top five cybersecurity best practices for better data security.

Protect and manage passwords

Passwords are one of the simplest ways to protect sensitive information, but too often, they are not taken seriously by either employees or organizations. Weak passwords are easy targets for hackers, especially when “123456” or “password” are still the most commonly used passwords across all industries. 

A cybersecurity best practice for passwords is to ensure they have at least 10 characters with a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. The more complex and strong your password, the exponentially longer it will take for a hacker to solve. Adding two-factor authentication and using a password manager like LastPass (which only needs you to remember one login password) makes it easy to follow these best practices, even when you have countless complex passwords for work.

Conduct routine employee training

The saying “you don’t know what you don’t know” rings true for cybersecurity awareness. If companies don’t provide regular, in-depth training on cybersecurity best practices, chances are their employees won’t seek it out themselves. In fact, over 90 percent of cyberattacks occur because an unaware employee revealed sensitive information in a phishing scam.

A great way to make sure everyone is on the same page is by providing education on the different types of cyberattacks and how to stay alert to these threats. Regular training, assessments, and even random simulated phishing attacks are all simple ways to keep everyone alert and aware. It’s also important to establish cybersecurity awareness as vital to the safety of your employees and customers, rather than simply framing it as a “necessary evil.”

Regularly back up data

Digital data loss or corruption is a serious disaster, but it can be prevented with a few smart security measures. If your company has physical data, backups are especially important to protect this information from threats like natural disasters or building fires.

Backing data up offsite not only gives peace of mind, but is a cybersecurity best practice for keeping sensitive data safe and secure. Cloud backup services and databases are an ideal solution because they store all data on a remote server and provide data recovery capabilities. These services also often have end-to-end encryption for added security to ensure that data is protected as it moves from your company to the cloud database.

Maintain an incident response plan

While it is critical for organizations to maintain cybersecurity best practices, this doesn’t mean that a company is never at risk for a threat. It only takes one security breach to cause serious damage to a company’s reputation and finances. Companies should be proactive about creating, maintaining, and following an Incident Response Plan in the event of a cyberattack. 

This plan outlines the steps a company needs to take to minimize the damage caused by the threat, recover data, and make changes to policies to help avoid future attacks. Along with creating an Incident Response Plan, it may also be helpful to create plans for specific types of threats, such as phishing attacks, and to have communication plans in place for employees, customers, and partners.

Comply with all laws and regulations

Companies are required by law to follow all compliance regulations. These regulations exist to provide additional security for sensitive data, such as HIPAA for healthcare and GLBA for financial services. Non-compliance endangers not only the sensitive information of a company and its employees, but its customers as well, and can result in financial penalties, or worse.

To follow cybersecurity best practices, it’s important to know which compliance regulations are relevant to your company and to make sure your company remains up-to-date with any changes to these regulations. Conducting regular compliance risk assessments also alongside cybersecurity risk assessments to stay informed about your company data, regulation requirements, and to ensure these regulations are met.

How FormAssembly avoids cybersecurity threats

As a remote company with customers in industries with strict regulations, including healthcare, financial services, and government, FormAssembly takes an uncompromising stance on data security and compliance to help prevent hacking attacks and other threats. We are committed to adhering to the compliance laws and data security regulations to meet the strict demands of these industries. This ensures that all of our customers can trust us to keep their data secure when using our platform. 

Some of the specific cybersecurity best practices FormAssembly follows include off-site data centers, disaster recovery, incident response, firewalls and an Intrusion Detection System, employee security, and more. We also maintain HIPAA, GDPR, FERPA, and GLBA compliance (and more), are PCI DSS Level 1 Certified, are compliant with the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, and are FedRAMP Ready.

Collect sensitive data with confidence

FormAssembly’s web form platform is a leader in secure, compliant data collection. Does your organization need a reliable solution for collecting sensitive data? Learn more about how FormAssembly can help in our eBook, How to Collect Data the Secure, Compliant Way: The Ultimate Guide.

Don’t just collect data — leverage it.