As seen in Cyber Defense Magazine 11th Year Anniversary Special Edition for RSA Conference 2023: https://cyberdefensemagazine.tradepub.com/free/w_cyba149/
Cyberattacks escalated in 2022 as critical industries remain a frequent target of cybercriminals. New data from Check Point Research revealed that global cyberattacks rose by 38% in 2022 over the previous year. Many of these attacks were led by small hacker groups focused on exploiting collaboration tools used in work-from-home environments.
With critical industries and infrastructure under attack, cybersecurity remains the top investment priority for CIOs as firms need to manage escalating threats. Ransomware is a leading cause of data breaches, and key, high-profile targets include healthcare organizations, universities, financial institutions, telecommunications, as well as governments.
Ransomware attacks are not only costly but more difficult to identify and contain, according to a report from IBM. Last year, the average cost of a ransomware attack reached $4.54 million, while additional consequences range from loss of data to eroded trust from customers.
The reality of cyberattacks is that malicious actors will access data any way they can and will exploit any vulnerability. Phishing, stolen credentials, and social engineering are among the leading attack vectors. However, AI and apps such as ChatGPT are emerging as new threats, as bad actors are exploiting these apps to write malware and devise more sophisticated social engineering attacks.
CISOs and cybersecurity professionals are under tremendous pressure to stay up to date with the latest trends, prepare for threats, and ensure that software, tools, and platforms are secure. Protecting collaboration tools must be a cybersecurity priority for organizations of all sizes.
Remote work and distributed teams persistently at risk
As distributed teams and remote work environments are now permanently in place for enterprise organizations, collaboration tools are a critical part of an optimal hybrid and remote work experience. But with the large number of employees working from multiple locations, there are more opportunities for malicious actors than ever before.
Secure integrations of platforms and tools are critical, as the number of devices and access points are creating multiplying levels of attack surfaces that are more difficult to track and manage.
Some business tools that were once intended for limited use are now ubiquitous across organizations. Adding another challenge is the way teams are accessing these tools across multiple devices, both corporate-owned and personal. The risks of compromised credentials, devices and tools that are not adequately secured are compounded.
Collaboration tools and platforms are a pervasive source of threats, including communication, document, and content sharing tools. Industries that handle sensitive information, for instance, financial and accounting, management consulting, or government agencies, must be hyper-vigilant about data security. Confidential and sensitive data, from corporate secrets to Personal Identifiable Information (PII) and financial information are often key targets of cybercriminals.
Securing software and tools must be part of the culture of cybersecurity that needs to start from the C-suite. Creating a cybersecurity-minded culture includes creating policies and education about protecting data and systems. Passwords, secure devices and zero trust approaches are essential. However, choosing secure software platforms and integrations, starting with software that is built securely from the ground up, is also a key strategy.
Strategies to secure collaboration tools and integrations
Most firms use a variety of business tools day-to-day, many of which are used to collaborate, communicate, and share data. To ensure that these tools are secure, firms need to focus on a few key practices. For instance, good password hygiene, zero trust architecture and multi-factor authentication are a must, regardless of where employees are working. It’s important for teams to maintain these practices across all devices, apps and transmissions.
Organizations, meanwhile, need to make sure their employees have access to the tools that give them optimal remote work experiences, which means using advanced and highly secure collaboration tools and technology. If the firm’s tech stack suits their needs, employees are less likely to download unauthorized apps or tools.
Software products that aren’t adequately secure can leave firms open to vulnerabilities. Good patch management is a critical step in reducing security risk from software. Another proactive approach can be taken when selecting PaaS, SaaS or other software that will be integrated with other tools. Look for solutions that have security baked into the SaaS product throughout the development process and not bolted on as an afterthought.
API driven platforms are good choices for secure integrations of tools and apps, but it’s crucial to make sure that APIs are secure. API vulnerabilities, such as broken user authorization and authentication, mishandled authentication token management and outdated transport layer security implementations, can lead to hacking and data breaches. Strong API security testing and monitoring can help mitigate the risk of attacks on API integrations.
Consider a solution that works on private cloud networks to safeguard data, content and privacy. Private cloud networks can provide elevated security for servers, network, data and applications and give the organization more control over security and remote access.
When selecting video conferencing and collaboration platforms, look for solutions built securely from the ground up, with true end-to-end security with the latest TLS standards and not merely symmetric encryption. Secure solutions should also offer the organization complete control of all aspects of the collaboration platform, including all live and interactive user experiences.
Cybersecurity will remain a key ongoing priority for enterprises even as they face expected budget cuts as well as cybersecurity talent shortages. Cyber threats are constantly evolving, and malicious actors will find new ways to exploit vulnerabilities. But keeping security top of mind while considering collaboration tools and platforms can help to mitigate some of the risks.