3 Critical Steps To Ensure Your Business Is Cyber Secure
13 August 2021
Modern businesses have become more and more reliant on technology, but this reliance has come at a cost. The use of the internet for every aspect of our business operations means that cyber-attacks and data breaches are an ever-present threat. In the UK, small businesses are targeted with an estimated 65,000 attempted cyber attacks every day. As such, it is imperative that businesses ensure their security measures are up to date with the latest tools available in order to protect themselves from these attacks.
In this article, we will discuss three essential steps for ensuring your business is fully protected; outcome-based security, implementing the latest technology, and regular IT audits.
1. Outcome-Based Security
Put simply, you cannot implement an effective security plan unless you know what your aims are. Many businesses make the mistake of simply ticking off items on a cybersecurity checklist such as installing anti-virus software, running firewalls, and so on. They do not consider what they are trying to achieve by implementing these measures.
The first step towards a more effective cybersecurity strategy is to identify your desired security outcomes so that your business can systematically take measures to achieve them.
Here are some potential outcomes to consider:
Assessing potential cybersecurity risks
Cybersecurity risks are often a result of poor quality systems, an absence of good governance or regulatory oversight. When these occur in the cyber world, they can have real-world impacts on businesses and organisations. With $2.9 million lost every minute to cybercrime, risk assessments are essential when it comes to protecting your business against security breaches. You need to assess your business’s vulnerabilities and calculate the potential consequences of a security breach.
Protecting your systems
Once you know the areas at potential risk, you can then take steps to protect your systems.
Critical areas of focus include endpoint security, network security, and data protection:
- For maximum cybersecurity protections from endpoints or mobile devices, make sure that your antivirus and anti-malware software is up to scratch.
- For optimum system performance, make sure you backup computer files regularly in case there is a need to restore them on an entirely new device due to a ransomware attack.
- To protect against malware attacks, which can corrupt business networks by disrupting communications between systems, implement firewalls at entry points to your network. Firewalls can also be used to protect against malware intrusion, by restricting access from external networks and the internet.
Accurately detecting attacks
The third key is to accurately detect an attack in progress. As noted above, you may want to consider investing in tools like endpoint protection systems which continually monitor networks for unusual activity while also providing real-time alerts of any potential threats that arise on your business’s computers. This type of system will be able to detect and block malware before it has the opportunity to cause real, irreversible damage.
Minimising the damage done by attacks
There are two key things that companies can do to minimise the damage done by an attack: have a disaster recovery plan in place, and make sure you conduct regular audits to check for data vulnerabilities (see below).
A disaster recovery plan will ensure your company’s systems are not compromised beyond repair if they suffer from a ransomware attack or another type of cyber attack. This means having backups, testing them out periodically and knowing where to go for help in case of emergency.
This may seem like overkill but don’t be complacent – we live in volatile times with hackers getting more cunning all the time. The last thing you want is for your business to be taken offline indefinitely because backup servers were too slow and hackers were able to encrypt all of your data.
2. Fighting Technology with Technology
More than 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses, and the number one reason for this is ineffective or out-of-date security. With viruses and hacking technology becoming ever more sophisticated, cybersecurity technology needs to constantly evolve to stay one step ahead. Traditionally, the most effective cybersecurity measures were those that were reactive in nature and, more specifically, those that relied on manually identifying and blocking cyber attacks.
However, AI technology is able to provide more complete protection by using the latest machine learning algorithms to predict possible future attacks based on past data from known attacks. This is called ‘predictive analytics’ and when this technology is combined with the comprehensive risk assessment, it becomes a powerful force.
Other AI cybersecurity solutions include machine learning tools that are able to recognise and block new cyber attacks as they happen without any human input. These are very useful because they can produce an immediate response to a cyber attack before substantial damage has been done.
The most important thing is that you use AI technology in tandem with other more traditional forms of cybersecurity. This will ensure that even if one form of defense fails or becomes obsolete over time, there are others on hand to provide protection for your business’ systems.
3. Keeping Up with Regular IT Audits
Regular IT audits help companies define their weaknesses before a breach happens. This will help IT leaders knowing where to focus their efforts in order to improve their cybersecurity strategy in the long term. For example, regular audits will allow you to predict what might go wrong with your IT infrastructure or how likely you are going to experience a DDoS attack at some point in the future.
Regular audits also provide evidence for compliance with security regulations such as GDPR, PCI DSS or FISMA. With 95% of cybersecurity breaches due to human error, regular audits will also help to ensure that everyone in your organisation is working with the same levels of vigilance when it comes to security.
The benefits of conducting regular audits always outweigh the costs, but there may be some drawbacks depending on the size and complexity of your business’s IT infrastructure. For instance, if complex systems across the whole company require an audit, it may be difficult to schedule with multiple departments. This problem can be solved if your business has its own cybersecurity experts in-house, but it can be more difficult to organise when bringing in specialist consultants for the job.
Is your business cyber secure?
With cyber-attacks having the potential to do existential harm, it is crucial that you never let yourself become complacent when it comes to protecting your business. Assessing the risks and having a clear idea of your desired cybersecurity outcomes are both vital in reducing your chance of being attacked, and in minimising the damage caused by any attacks that do sneak through.
Incorporating sophisticated technology like AI security tools will have to protect your systems, while frequent audits will highlight any potential vulnerabilities. If you don’t have an expert cybersecurity team in-house, it is always advisable to invest in experts to plan your defensive systems, with the benefits far outweighing the costs.