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Future-Proofing Your Cybersecurity Strategy for Botnet Attacks

Future-Proofing Your Cybersecurity Strategy for Botnet Attacks

In order for any modern company to properly function, it needs an internal network that hosts multiple devices — including smartphones, laptops, and Internet of Things devices — that operate and communicate together. Interconnectedness leads to efficiency. However, it also creates a breeding ground for botnet attacks, which are becoming one of the most common types of cyberattacks affecting the Internet of Things (IoT).

Botnet attacks occur when a group of internet-enabled devices on the same network are taken over by malware. When your robot network (“botnet”) is controlled by a bad actor, they can use it to launch new, highly damaging cyberattacks — for example, those that can lead to stolen credentials or even take down a country’s power grid.

As botnet attacks become more common, businesses need to take preventative measures to eliminate the cybersecurity weaknesses that could give attackers access to their devices. Additionally, companies must develop defense strategies that can limit damage from a botnet attack in the event that one occurs. Here are a handful of tips and tricks on how to prevent and prepare for a botnet attack.

Identify Your Biggest Vulnerabilities

When it comes to cybersecurity, overconfidence can be detrimental. One survey found that 43% of businesses leave at least one part of their IoT suite unprotected, and that’s only counting known risks. If you haven’t performed a cybersecurity audit and assessed your risks in the past six months — or in the past month, for larger companies — your current cybersecurity program probably isn’t as future-proof as it should be.

In order to develop a strong cybersecurity strategy that can protect you against botnet attacks, you first need to identify your biggest vulnerabilities. A few common issues that can lead to botnet attacks include:

  • Personal devices on company networks, especially when remote access is involved
  • Outdated software, which leaves some cybersecurity risks unpatched
  • Misconfigured devices, which indicate cybersecurity oversights

Keep in mind that these are only three of many vulnerabilities that can leave you susceptible to botnet attacks. Be as thorough as possible in your auditing efforts so you can avoid missing a big potential entry point. Make sure to examine even the smart devices that don’t directly impact your business performance, like smart heating systems that still use your company network.

Develop a Plan to Close the Gaps

Once you know your biggest cybersecurity risk, you need to develop a plan of action to address them. A great place to start is developing a set of cybersecurity hygiene practices for your team members to follow. For example, if your business isn’t doing so already, it can benefit from requiring the use of encrypted Wi-Fi instead of allowing employees to access its programs using Wi-Fi from coffee shops or libraries.

Additionally, you can create a list of security configuration protocols for your IT team. For instance, you can require the installation of firewalls and antimalware, as well as the encryption of smart devices and drives. These protocols can increase your confidence that every new device on your company network is as secure as possible.

Once you’ve taken these two steps, identify any remaining vulnerabilities that haven’t been addressed and brainstorm ideas to close those final gaps. To keep your defense planning efforts organized, build a problem-solving flowchart like a mind map that helps you visualize your ideas and choose the best ones.

Identify Opportunities to Strengthen Authentication

Strong authentication can be a highly effective defense against botnet attacks. Taking time to identify opportunities to strengthen your user verifications and define different levels of access can help you ward off bad actors.

To improve your cybersecurity program, first establish authentication requirements that go beyond having a strong password. For many companies, this means requiring all employees to set up multi-factor authentication for their accounts. However, to prevent botnet attacks, it’s important to also consider using biometrics for device authentication or setting up a password manager, which allows employees to access company accounts and devices without knowing the actual passwords.

When sharing access to devices and accounts, make sure to employ the principle of least privilege. This concept states that a user should only be granted access if access is necessary for their role or tasks. For example, to ensure only authorized software updates can occur, you can require IT team approval for every update. By limiting access, you can further avoid human error and reduce entry points that lead to attacks.

Know What to Do When Attacks Occur

Botnet defense plans aren't always perfect. No matter how low the chances of a botnet attack are, companies must be prepared to deal with them if they occur. As soon as a botnet attack is detected, cut off access to control servers to prevent the attack from escalating.

It’s also important to create an action plan for assessing devices before they’re used again. To be safe, you can require a factory reset of all devices to ensure they’re malware-free. Performing regular backups of your data can help you do so without losing valuable information.

Future-Proof Your Company Against Botnet Attacks

Botnet attacks can be a challenge to handle when they occur, but with a complete defense plan, businesses of all sizes can effectively prevent these harmful cyberattacks from occurring. Start building your defense plan by identifying where you can improve your cybersecurity. Then, start brainstorming ways to close those gaps and strengthen your authentication processes. This way, you can decrease the likelihood that bad actors can find ways to slip into your system and damage your company’s reputation or halt its performance.

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