A cybersecurity incident can happen at any moment and without warning, creating huge financial damages to your business. In 2020, the FBI recorded 791,790 complaints of internet crime resulting in losses of over $4.2 billion. These crimes affected individuals, businesses, and industries of all types.
Because of the looming threat of cyber crime, your business should be prepared for an incident at all times. Performing a self-assessment of your current state of cybersecurity preparedness should be a cornerstone of your IT strategy.
Some of the most common types of cybersecurity incidents include:
- Ransomware attacks
- Phishing attempts
- Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks
These various crimes are rampant as bad actors constantly try updated methods of luring new victims. Suffering one of these cyberattacks places your business, employees, and precious data at risk by disrupting regular operations, damaging files, and causing thousands of dollars in damages.
Being prepared and securely guarded against the threat of cyberattack means you won’t have to suffer the effects of an attempted crime. A thorough assessment of your business’s security readiness can reveal the vulnerabilities of your system.
An important part of your IT strategy is familiarity with the specifics of your data. The basics include: type of data, collection methods, storage methods and procedures, and modes of protection. Starting with a simple data audit such as this allows you to assess your infrastructure and mitigate any associated risks.
Your regular IT staff may be able to handle a self-assessment, or you could employ the resources of an IT consultant as part of your IT strategy. Since IT consultants work with similar businesses to yours, their knowledge on industry best practices can give your company a security advantage.
By determining your business’s assets, you can categorize and prioritize your security needs. This step should be exhaustive in scope to fully understand the depth of your business’s security situation.
Assets to examine include:
- Data (type, amount, location)
- Technology (software and hardware, infrastructure, interface)
- Personnel (internal users, external users, and support staff)
- Processes (policies, controls, permissions)
By examining and listing the entire scope of your network, you’ll be able to fully explore the assets and parts that comprise it. Each component of your business has its own needs in terms of protection, and awareness of this will allow you to secure your entire network.
Cybersecurity risks, threats, and vulnerabilities can arise from both internal and external sources. You’re protecting your business from bad actors while also supporting your infrastructure with education and solid security measures. A big part of your self-assessment should be thoroughly scouring your system to identify its biggest threats and risks.
Perhaps you’re aware of some high-profile attacks, but researching your industry and similar businesses will provide clarity on specific risks to your own operation. Your industry may be a frequent target of ransomware attacks, or perhaps you know someone who has just suffered a DDoS attack.
Familiarity with recent cyber incidents will also illuminate the potential financial losses your business could suffer should it undergo a cyber attack. Outfitting your business with the proper cybersecurity solutions can seem expensive, but awareness of the financial losses your business could suffer makes investing in high-quality prevention worth every penny.
Your best line of defense against a cyber incident is a strong and secure network. Knowing the specifics of your network provides your business with knowledge of potential internal vulnerabilities and allows you to correct them.
Ensure your software is regularly updated to patch known vulnerabilities either automatically or through a regularly scheduled IT audit. Having consistent antivirus and anti-malware software downloaded to all devices will also help protect your network.
A commonly exploited vulnerability in cyber attacks is human error. A stray click, a careless visit to a website, or an absentminded download from the wrong source can all lead to huge damages for your company. Consistent education for your personnel can help prevent these mishaps.
Beyond annual training and updates on various risks and how to identify them, your business should also mandate regular password replacements, strong password requirements, and multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Have a contingency plan in the event of a cyber incident. This will help you adequately prepare to respond once an attack is attempted.
Your data storage poses one of the greatest risks for your business’s security status. Having a clear and consistent policy for data storage and backups will ensure all business data is kept safe and secure.
Many companies upload their information onto the cloud and assume it's well protected. While cloud solutions are great ways to back up information, relying on one vendor (a common practice) exposes your data to single-point-of-failure (SPOF) risks. Employing a hybrid cloud solution to protect your data ensures it’s secure from multiple points. Hybrid cloud solutions merge public and private cloud data storage with on-site server access to provide comprehensive coverage. Using data protection across multiple sites ensures your data remains protected on multiple fronts.
Once you’ve fully assessed and cataloged every aspect of your security situation, you can safely analyze the aggregated information to determine the severity of your business’s needs and create a proper plan. The resulting risk assessment report will provide you with a snapshot of your business’s cybersecurity preparedness and areas of improvement.
This tool will help you determine your company’s level of risk—financially and otherwise—and how to begin mitigating it. Even if your business seems adequately protected, cybersecurity risks evolve daily, so it’s always a benefit to your business to self-assess your level of readiness.
Once this is complete you can fully incorporate cybersecurity into your IT strategy. You can ensure the longevity of your business and prevent any incidents without having to learn any of its vulnerabilities and risks the hard way. Performing a security assessment protects the assets of your business for its present and future success.
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