What you can do to prevent cyber attacks


In today’s digital landscape, cyber attack threats in the public entity space are mounting. The consequences of such attacks can disrupt essential public services and compromise sensitive data. It’s important to prioritize cybersecurity measures to safeguard critical infrastructure and data and help maintain public trust and confidence in the services provided. Read more on the importance of cybersecurity and learn key strategies to help prevent cyber attacks at your organization.

Strategies to help prevent cyber attacks

  • Train employees in security principles. Establish basic security practices and policies for employees, such as requiring strong passwords and establish appropriate Internet use guidelines, that detail penalties for violating company cybersecurity policies. Establish rules of behavior describing how to handle and protect customer information and other vital data.
  • Protect information, computers, and networks from cyber attacks. Keep clean machines: having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Set antivirus software to run a scan after each update. Install other key software updates as soon as they are available.
  • Provide firewall security for your Internet connection. A firewall is a set of related programs that prevent outsiders from accessing data on a private network. Make sure the operating system’s firewall is enabled or install free firewall software available online. If employees work from home, ensure that their home system(s) are protected by a firewall.
  • Create a mobile device action plan. Mobile devices can create significant security and management challenges, especially if they hold confidential information or can access the corporate network. Require users to password protect their devices, encrypt their data, and install security apps to prevent criminals from stealing information while the phone is on public networks. Be sure to set reporting procedures for lost or stolen equipment.
  • Make backup copies of important business data and information. Regularly backup the data on all computers. Critical data includes word processing documents, electronic spreadsheets, databases, financial files, human resources files, and accounts receivable/payable files. Backup data automatically if possible, or at least weekly and store the copies either offsite or in the cloud.
  • Control physical access to your computers and create user accounts for each employee. Prevent access or use of business computers by unauthorized individuals. Laptops can be particularly easy targets for theft or can be lost, so lock them up when unattended. Make sure a separate user account is created for each employee and require strong passwords. Administrative privileges should only be given to trusted IT staff and key personnel.
  • Secure your Wi-Fi networks. If you have a Wi-Fi network for your workplace, make sure it is secure, encrypted, and hidden. To hide your Wi-Fi network, set up your wireless access point or router so it does not broadcast the network name, known as the Service Set Identifier (SSID). Make sure to password protect access to the router.
  • Employ best practices on payment cards. Work with banks or processors to ensure the most trusted and validated tools and anti-fraud services are being used. You may also have additional security obligations pursuant to agreements with your bank or processor. Isolate payment systems from other, less secure programs and don’t use the same computer to process payments and surf the Internet.
  • Limit employee access to data and information, and limit authority to install software. Do not provide any one employee with access to all data systems. Employees should only be given access to the specific data systems that they need for their jobs and should not be able to install any software without permission.
  • Passwords and multifactor authentication. Require employees to use unique passwords and change passwords every three months. Implement multifactor authentication which requires additional information beyond a password to gain entry. Check with your vendors that handle sensitive data, especially financial institutions, to see if they offer multifactor authentication for your account.
  • There are several cyber resources available online. The Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) offers no-cost, in-house cybersecurity services to help organizations build and maintain a robust and resilient cyber framework. Also offered is a list of free cybersecurity services and tools to help advance your security capabilities.  Free Cybersecurity Services & Tools | CISA

Preferred offers cybersecurity resources

Preferred offers four Vector Solutions courses on Cyber Awareness. Educating your associates is one of the best ways to prevent a cyber attack. Cyber Awareness improves the awareness of threats to online security and provides best practices for safeguarding data. As always, these courses are available to Preferred members free of charge.

  • Cybersecurity Awareness for Employees: Classifying and Safeguarding Data for Corporate and Personal Use
  • Cybersecurity Awareness for Employees: End User Best Practices
  • Cybersecurity Awareness for Employees: Security Awareness Essentials
  • Cybersecurity Awareness for Employees: Social Engineering

Preferred also offers access to the HR, Cyber & ADA Support Center for all members who place their EPLI coverage with Preferred. The Cyber Support Center includes several resources:

  • Breach Healthcheck: Measurable data breach exposure and protection with instant feedback
  • Privacy and Security templates including a customizable incident response plan (IRP), which can be tailored to meet industry and regulatory requirements
  • Unlimited access to Cybersecurity experts via phone and email.
  • Resources for keeping staff up to date on a range of issues related to privacy, data security and compliance
  • Latest news and events regarding data breaches, regulations, cyber threats and protective technologies

For more information on these and other cyber-related resources please contact your Preferred Loss Control Consultant.