Hygiene has never been a particularly popular topic — but when it comes to the health of your cybersecurity posture, it’s just one of those things that must be discussed and addressed. 

Before we dig too deep, let’s take a quick look at what cyber hygiene means, and why it matters so much.

What is cyber hygiene?

Cyber hygiene is a term that describes using best practices in order to maintain your company’s cyber health. Think about it like maintaining your own personal wellness; the better you take care of yourself, the longer you’ll be around. The same holds true for your business when it comes to caring for your cybersecurity posture.

The European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), couldn’t agree more when they state, “cyber hygiene should be viewed in the same manner as personal hygiene.” Yes, it’s really that important.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all global approach, most authorities on the topic agree  that cyber hygiene is a proactive method that should be implemented in businesses of all sizes (and even in your personal life!).

Here’s some good news: Cyber hygiene practices can be simple in nature and still be incredibly effective. Bottom line? You don’t need to be a tech guru to have good cyber hygiene.

Take note of these cyber hygiene best practices for 2023:

  • Know your system and users
  • Determine the cyber basics for your company, including how many devices are in use, what types of devices (mobile, desktop, etc.), your users, and what software programs live on those devices. This insight will inform you of your current state and overall cyber landscape. Also, ensure that employees are not saving items locally and that all duplicate files are continually being eliminated.

  • Upgrade your software regularly
  • Upgrading software can seem meaningless — but the truth is, it’s a simple task that brings great value. Software updates regularly include the latest security updates. As Microsoft points out, these updates typically address flaws that may let hackers or viruses into your system. By simply running the latest updates, you can protect yourself against known weaknesses in the system.

  • Choose passwords wisely and enable multi-factor authentication (MFA)
  • You’ve heard this countless times, yet many of us are still guilty of having weak passwords or using the same version across multiple accounts. Whether it’s a password for your Wifi network, business software, or just your own device, strong passwords can make a huge difference. Opt for passwords with a mix of characters and letters, and change them regularly. It’s a simple but effective way to protect your information. Additionally, it’s critical that everyone in the company has deployed multi-factor authentication. In a recent blog from Microsoft’s VP of Identity Security, Alex Weinert, 99.9% of user accounts that are compromised don’t have MFA authorized.

  • Utilize antivirus and malware software
  • There are many malicious programs and schemes specifically designed to target businesses. Antivirus and malware software are cost-friendly and effective methods as a first line of defense. Antivirus software detects and removes malicious items, while malware detection exists to keep bad things out.

  • Regularly perform backups
  • Think about when you’ve worked all day on a document, only to forget to hit save. It’s the worst, right? You can visualize backups in that manner. If your business was to lose all its information tomorrow, would you have what you need to operate as usual? Save yourself the headache, and back up your files.

Although these are just a few examples of good cyber hygiene practices, they’re foundational in helping you get your business on the right track. There are also other resources available to help you on your journey. Here are a few examples of cyber hygiene services:

  • Vulnerability scanning
  • Vulnerability scanning occurs by continuously scanning static and public IPs looking for weak spots. The U.S. Department Of Homeland Security (CyberSecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency) provides free vulnerability scanning to different types of organizations. If you don’t qualify for this, many different products on the market provide the same functionality.

  • Phishing assessments
  • If your employees need to be tested on recognizing a phishing attempt, there are assessments that can simulate a fake phishing attack and provide you with the results. There are free versions, as well as paid assessments for more detailed info.

  • Cyber risk value software
  • If you need to understand the financial value of your risk, software like RiskAware can tackle the task. By scanning your data, this type of program provides details about your risk, such as risk type (e.g., social security numbers, driver’s license numbers), the dollar value of your information, and where it’s located. This type of data allows you to make informed decisions around cyber insurance and employee behavior.

  • Cyber consulting services
  • Maybe you need an outside perspective. Different types of cyber consulting services can provide you with a birds-eye view of your business and where you need to tighten up your hygiene.

As the world continues to become more connected, business owners can expect an increase in regulations from the CISA and ENISA . In the future, cyber hygiene practices will become a requirement, rather than just a smart business practice. Get ahead of the curve and start implementing these changes in your business today.