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By Damian Wasey, Partner at Mitigo Cybersecurity

Never in the history of your working life should it be clearer that you need to allocate budgets and resources to mitigate known risks. Cybercrime, with its ever-increasing prevalence, is one of those risks and the start of a new year is always a good time to start planning. So, in that context here are my suggested 2021 cybersecurity resolutions.

2021 cyber resolutions
• Invest time to understand your risk from cyberattacks. Cyberattacks are indiscriminate, they hit any vulnerability they can find. I suggest you get the right group of experts together to assess your risks, and then consider the controls you have in place to reduce that risk e.g. policy, training, software, support, etc. Consider paying for a vulnerability risk assessment that can guide you on where to start.

• Get your remote connections FIT for purpose. From March last year, cyber criminals have had a field day compromising poorly set up remote connections. In the rush to connect remotely, speed was prioritised over security. Please carry out the exercise to make sure your connections are fit for purpose in 2021. This includes logins to cloud platforms, VPN connections to the office and all versions of remote desktop control. And pay extra attention if you have allowed staff to use their own computers.

• Stop assuming that your IT support have this covered. The businesses that got hit last year still assumed this. In our experience IT do not look after this because they are not risk or cyber experts and you are not paying them to shoulder this responsibility. This assumption can be a blocker to action.

• Change employee habits through training, testing and simulation. All the incidents we investigated last year had an element of human error. Good resolutions change bad habits. This includes link-clicking, alert-ignoring, update-delaying, data-syncing… I could go on. Best practice is to follow up training with simulated attacks on staff, e.g. a pretend email phishing campaign, to strengthen a defensive culture.

• Write and communicate a mobile phone policy. Do not forget mobile phones. Personal and work mobile use can be necessary for business. But have you got a policy on it, with the necessary controls in place? Cyber criminals increasingly rely on mobile phones as an entry point to company systems. Once you have agreed what your policies are you will need to configure your technology to support your approach.

• Prove to yourself that your back-up actually works. Most back-ups that we check will not survive a ransomware attack because they are poorly configured. Have you ever had this checked? And is it still operating correctly in this remote working world? Staff may have started storing files locally for convenience or even started using third-party storage. Have you still got control of your data footprint?

Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list, but I am hoping it will get you thinking about this subject because it is not going away. Indeed, the cyber criminals are more organised than ever, and their attacks are increasingly sophisticated. It is a lucrative business for them, so they invest money and resources into constantly improving their game. I suggest you use the start of 2021 to do the same.

Mitigo has partnered with Care England to offer technical and cyber security services to its members. Take a look at Mitigo’s full service offer at https://www.careengland.org.uk/mitigo

For more information about Mitigo’s cybersecurity services, call 0161 8833 623 or email care@mitigogroup.com

Damian Wasey, Partner
Chief Commercial Officer, Affinity Partnerships
Damian has for 20+ years, been creating strategic partnerships and lasting relationships with professional & trade associations, to achieve market share through a structured and commercial strategy.

This highly effective business model creates a benefit for all parties involved. Damian excels at making sure each invested party has a successful outcome and a lasting relationship is developed.

Working with and supporting businesses of all sizes, Damian has worked as a Director in service sectors including Citation plc, Santander Corporate and Commercial Bank, and KPMG.