In a challenging economic climate and with the threat landscape continuously evolving, the time is now to prioritize cybersecurity through solution adoption and adherence to best practices. As the headlines about cyberattacks become more frequent and increasingly devastating, organizations and consumers alike must shore up their cybersecurity defenses to avoid devastating impacts to their business’s operations, finances and reputation. The reliance on technology to conduct everyday business is greater than ever before, yet securing that technology is an ongoing challenge for every type of organization.

Implement cybersecurity best practices and employee education

Employees are the first line of defense against cyberattacks, meaning an organization is only as secure as its least educated employee. It is imperative for every organization to include cyber safety in new employee onboarding and offer ongoing training awareness programs.

Education around password hygiene is often overlooked in cybersecurity training. Despite knowing that a devastating cyberattack is only one stolen password away, many organizations do not prioritize password best practices. In recent research, fewer than half (44%) of IT professionals surveyed reported that they provide their employees with guidance and best practices governing passwords and access management. Organizations must ensure employees utilize strong and unique passwords for every online account.

In addition to using strong and unique passwords, organizations should mandate that employees enable strong forms of two-factor authentication (2FA), such as an authenticator app, which provides a second layer of protection. A password manager is a critical tool to create high-strength random passwords for every website, application and system. When using a password manager, 2FA codes can be incorporated directly into a record, which increases both security and ease of use for employees. This addresses an issue called the ‘security adoption paradox.’ Often the more secure a solution is, the less likely employees are to adopt and embrace it. A secure password manager is the opposite. It both protects employees and, at the same time, simplifies their online experience.

Phishing is a popular attack method for cybercriminals, meaning organizations must educate employees on the dangers of phishing attempts. If a message looks suspicious or comes from an unfamiliar sender, do not click any links or respond. To avoid falling victim, the key is to ensure the URL of the destination website matches the authentic website. When a password manager is used, it automatically identifies when a site’s URL doesn't match what’s contained in the user’s vault, which provides a critical extra layer of security.

Prioritize strategic solution adoption and deployment

Following best practices such as employee education and protocols for password setting and management is important, but strong cybersecurity defense requires solution adoption, as well. Macro-economic pressures may tempt businesses to cut back on security as budgets tighten; however, it’s more important now than ever to protect against cyberattacks that could severely damage, if not destroy, a business.

To avoid potentially devastating security incidents, organizations should implement a unified and zero trust, zero knowledge privileged access management (PAM) solution to reduce the risk of cyberattacks and defend against internal and external threat vectors. Today’s IT professionals should look for a PAM solution that combines capabilities for password, secrets and privileged connection management. While many traditional PAM products are expensive and difficult to deploy and manage, there are cost-effective, easy-to-use options that provide pervasive visibility for every user, on every device, from every location.

Industry experts and government cybersecurity agencies recommend using a secure password manager, as over 80% of data breaches are due to weak or stolen passwords, credentials and secrets. Not all cybersecurity software is created equal, however. A password manager is a vital tool to protect online accounts and sensitive information, but that tool must meet the highest standards of security. Consumers and organizations seeking a password manager should make sure to vet the security vendor for complete transparency about their security architecture and technology infrastructure. When searching for a secure option, users should prioritize security certifications such as SOC 2, ISO 27001 and FedRAMP.

Privileged credentials are some of the highest-value targets for cybercriminals. For that reason, it's critical to use a secure, zero knowledge secrets management platform that can help protect infrastructure secrets such as API keys, database passwords, access keys, certificates and any type of confidential data.

The mass migration to distributed work presented IT and DevOps teams with new challenges as they were forced to perform infrastructure monitoring and management remotely. IT and DevOps personnel need a secure, reliable and scalable way to remotely connect to their machines that is easy to manage. A PAM solution can provide secure privileged session management, remote infrastructure access and secure remote database access to RDP, SSH keys, database and Kubernetes endpoints. Organizations should seek out a product that has the flexibility to be installed on premises or in a cloud environment.

Make the right investments in cybersecurity

As the volume and severity of cyberattacks intensifies, it is becoming more important for companies of all sizes and across all sectors to adopt high-quality cybersecurity solutions. Furthermore, it is imperative that they create a culture of security within their organizations.

Cybersecurity solutions need not be expensive. There are affordable products that can actually save organizations money by reducing help desk costs. In the long run, of course, investment in cybersecurity also reduces the likelihood and severity of a financially disastrous cyberattack.

The challenges expected in the future underscore the critical importance of equipping IT and security teams with the solutions they need to protect their businesses from existing and emerging threats. High-profile breaches must serve as a wake-up call for all organizations, large and small, to implement a zero trust security architecture and secure their passwords, secrets and connections to reduce the ever-growing threat of cyberattacks. A unified and cloud-based privileged access management solution with these core components will ensure every user is protected on every device and from every location. In today’s environment, the criticality of taking a pervasive approach to cybersecurity that achieves visibility, security and control across the entire organization is simply non-negotiable.