Are sales the most important aspect of your business agenda? It seems logical to say YES. Generating revenue and covering costs are of course critical. But in today’s challenging economy – with your data the most important asset you have – it’s not the only answer. Cybersecurity must take its place in everything you do. With good reason.
For example, even in small to mid-sized businesses, you can find your sales, marketing, finance, and ops people working in silos, maybe using their own devices (BYOD) and legacy software, and completely unaware of how to keep your business assets safe.
And worse, without an overarching cybersecurity strategy, just one employee’s slip can open your whole business to cyberattacks. Perhaps they’ve
- used an insecure network on their home computer or
- opened an email link to a fraudulent site that stole their ID and permissions and sold them on the dark web.
Either way, your company is now at risk. And you’ve invited repeat attacks as a “vulnerable enterprise.”
That’s why your cybersecurity systems must be enterprise-wide.
You’ll need good IT leadership for this: the right people in the right seats to protect your operations, finances, and reputation.
What Does Cybersecurity Cover?
Cybersecurity covers all the practices you implement in your business to defend against cyberattacks. It works across all your computers, devices, systems, networks, servers, cloud, and remote endpoints.
There are several ways you can adopt best-practice cybersecurity:
- A Chief Information Officer, if you have one, will understand and can implement the whole strategy.
- Alternatively, you can hire a Fractional CIO to come in and advise and organize a secure whole-business system for you.
- If you’ve outsourced your IT to a Managed Services Provider (MSP), they should be managing your cybersecurity expertly. Check!
If, on the other hand, you’re starting the process yourself with a few tech-savvy staff, make sure all your employees understand what’s at stake in terms of cyberattacks coming your way.
That’s because, if cybersecurity is to be enterprise-wide, everyone must be on board and understand how they can help protect your business assets!
There are obviously costs to consider, so you need everyone on board in finance, too.
One way of handling the budget for cybersecurity is to assess your appetite for risk. But preventing cyberattacks is significantly less expensive than fixing the damage!
What Cyberattacks Does Your Business Face?
“Nefarious actions” sounds like something out of a film! But these actions involve interfering with your business’s digital life by
- disrupting processes,
- shutting you down via a DDoS attack
- extorting ransoms,
- gaining unauthorized and unlawful access to data, and
- altering or destroying sensitive information.
Your staff in every department, whatever their role, need to remain aware of these challenges at all times:
This is malicious software – often downloaded inadvertently from a dodgy site – that alters your computer behavior, corrupts data, can move across your network, or remain quietly in the background till it sees what it was “sent” to find.
You staff may not even recognize something has gone wrong.
Malware might be how a “spy” sees what password a user inputs. Or a hacker might steal unencrypted ones or use brute force to guess the right one.
Your staff need to understand password options such as two-factor authentication (2FA), single-use, hard to break, or encrypted.
With the increased trend for video meetings and collaborations, your staff need to know that their microphones, cameras, and printers need securing too.
Otherwise, an silent attacker can stand between two devices and intercept (or edit) the communication.
An attacker can trick your staff into clicking on email links or confirming passwords.
Does phishing sound old-hat? According to Verizon’s 2022 report, 36% of data breaches involved phishing. It’s still the most prevalent cybercrime!
Do your staff know how to
- recognize phishing emails and
- check validity before clicking on a link?
Apart from educating your staff, let’s look at how you can start dealing with cybersecurity challenges across your business.
How to Deal with Your Cybersecurity Challenges
These five steps will help you set up your business-wide cybersecurity.
1 Vulnerability Analysis and Assessment – the Start Point
A specialist can examine your IT ecosystem: networks, systems, and other on-premise and cloud components, and pinpoint flaws you need to fix.
This might include vulnerabilities from configuration errors and policy non-compliance that simple patching and maintenance will not fix.
This gives you a starting place for improving your cybersecurity agenda.
2 Network Security Monitoring 24/7
Network security monitoring keeps an eye on your network activity, the devices connected to it, and any potential security threat. It’s an automated procedure – gathering and assessing various real-time possible danger indicators.
If you set this up, your network administrator – if you have one – gets speedy warning of suspicious traffic and takes remedial action before your business suffers.
However, your staff don’t work all hours! One advantage of an MSP is they can provide both 24/7 monitoring and an emergency response.
3 Disaster Recovery Planning – Document It!
Make a documented plan to recover your operations as quickly as possible in a worst-case scenario.
All your employees should know
- their roles and duties,
- procedures to adhere to, and
- your business strategy for such an event – including technological alternatives to downtime using backups and reinstalling endpoints.
4 Adopt Zero Trust – Guard Against Insider Threats
Insider threats are an ongoing danger. Those with high access privileges know how your cybersecurity works!
One solution to this potential threat is to adopt Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA). In other words, trust no one until they’re verified. Individual staff get secure access on a per application basis. And you only give them the least amount of resources they need.
5 Finally, Get an Overall Security Posture Assessment
This refers to your overall security “score” after assessment of all your software, hardware, services, networks, information storage, vendors, and service providers.
It’s inversely correlated with your cybersecurity risk – low risk = high security posture score!
Why last in our list? Because when you’ve completed your cybersecurity strategy, this assessment will assure you it’s been worth it. Even if you hired outside help to accomplish it!
CIO Suite Can Help!
With over 40 years of experience working with C-level executives and business owners, CIO Suite offers best-in-class Executive IT Leadership on Demand.
We partner with you to both assess and implement cybersecurity best practice so you can sleep better at night! Schedule a call today to talk about your unique needs.