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7 ways tribes can strengthen their cybersecurity posture

Sep 09, 2021

Ransomware attacks in North America rose 158% between 2019 and 2020 and are expected to continue rising this year.

The growing amount of ransomware attacks specifically targeting tribes and their business operations has highlighted the need for tribes to increase their cybersecurity efforts. The choice of whether to invest in security measures that protect your networks and data isn’t really a choice at all — don’t ask will you be attacked but rather when, and will you be ready?

Here are seven ways tribes can mitigate cyber risks across their government and business operations:

1. Multi-factor authentication (MFA)

MFA requires users to authenticate a second set (or more) of credentials to gain access to your tribe’s system and data, which helps prevent some of the most common cyberattacks, such as phishing, spear phishing, credential stuffing, keyloggers, man-in-the-middle attacks and brute force/reverse brute force attacks.

MFA typically requires you to provide something you know (your password) and something you have (an access code that gets texted to your mobile phone). Google reports that MFA blocks 100% of automated bots, 99% of bulk phishing attempts and 66% of targeted spear phishing attacks, making it a valuable addition to your tribe’s cybersecurity.

2. Penetration testing

Also called ethical hacking or red teaming, penetration testing makes simulated attempts to compromise your business processes and data. By assessing your security capabilities, it highlights vulnerabilities and helps you understand the risks you might be taking. For example, the third-party firm you hire to perform penetration testing might create simulated phishing emails to look for insufficient updates and improper protection processes.

3. Real-time detection

With the use of traditional end-point protection tools (e.g., firewalls and anti-virus software), security attacks and data breaches may go undetected for weeks or months. These are reactive security measures developed to counter known security threats.

Real-time detection and monitoring technology is far more advanced and uses more proactive technologies — such as machine learning and behavioral analysis — to identify new potential or complex threats. These tools look for and identify applications that resemble ransomware and block external IP addresses that may pose a threat.

Hackers are investing great time and resources into outwitting sophisticated security measures, which means tribes must invest in more proactive cybersecurity to protect their members and data.

4. Patches and updates

Hackers know how to exploit vulnerabilities in systems, applications and processes. Patches and updates fix code defects and close these vulnerabilities. Make sure a member of your IT team is monitoring software and frequently pushing updates and patches.

5. Cybersecurity insurance

When performing your annual insurance renewal process, make sure to look into obtaining cybersecurity insurance. Although premiums are increasing along with attacks, you never know when a data breach might occur. Appropriate coverage helps prevent your tribe from being left in a vulnerable security posture with much to lose.

6. Backup and recovery

Ransomware attacks are increasingly looking for backup files to encrypt so they can prevent access to any data until the ransom is paid. Your tribes should have a data backup recovery process in place that includes air-gapped, immutable data protection. These are offline copies of data, which makes them secure, recoverable and unable to be altered or changed. By keeping an archive of immutable backups, you can recover from a ransomware attack much easier and faster — without having to pay the ransom.   

7. Cybersecurity training

When it comes to cybersecurity, employees are an organization’s weakest link. You need to provide basic cybersecurity training so that employees can recognize the signs of a phishing email (e.g., incorrect spelling, has an unknown return address) — and you need to provide it repeatedly. Cybersecurity training is only impactful when it’s repeated and understood. And if your tribal organization has a high turnover rate, it’s even more important to provide frequent training. In addition, a successful training program also needs to be frequently updated to cover evolving threats.

Wipfli can help your tribe improve cybersecurity

Cybersecurity expertise is important, and tribes should consider outsourcing certain projects like penetration testing and 24/7 detection and response. Wipfli provides a full range of industry-tailored cybersecurity services to help you proactively address mounting threats with the right technology. As the past has shown us, no single cyber solution is 100% foolproof, but ensuring the risk is mitigated by employing the above steps goes a long way in advancing a tribe’s security posture. Click here to learn more.

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Wipfli Editorial Team