Today’s digitally connected world encourages better business and opportunities. Online technologies, devices and social platforms are powerful factors for reaching new markets and increasing productivity. But the increase in hazards means business owners need a thorough understanding of cyber risk management and a strategy in place to address them. To build an effective cybersecurity plan, preventative measures for both internal and external threats must be incorporated.
The Real Cost of a Cyber AttackCyberattacks have happened to some of Australia’s biggest and most secure organisations. But small and medium-sized businesses are easy prey for cyber criminals. In fact, small businesses are the target of 43% of all cybercrimes. According to the Australian Government, the average cost of an attack is about $276,000. Some of the factors that influence the indirect costs of a breach include:
- Data loss: Stolen, lost or exposed data can rack up much higher expenses than the initial data recovery, resulting in penalties and fines
- Reputation: Damaged reputation means businesses can lose the ability to gain new customers
- Investor perception: Breaches and cyberattacks often lead to a drop in a company’s perceived value through negative coverage. Small businesses in particular can struggle if they don’t have the infrastructure to stay afloat in the wake of an attack
Create a Strong Cybersecurity CultureNowadays it’s not enough to put up firewalls and leave the monitoring of attacks to IT. Humans are the biggest cyber security risk for businesses and must be looked at as one of the most vulnerable areas. According to IBM’s report, human negligence remains the leading cause of data breaches. To mitigate these risks, businesses must foster a stronger cybersecurity culture as part of their strategy to ensure security is an integral part of every employee’s day. Make sure you:
- Establish a cybersecurity compliance policy for all employees about date use.
- Educate staff to detect and report suspicious behaviour.
- Educate staff to recognise potential threats, such as phishing and ransomware.
- Educate staff to keep work secure by using strong passwords. Passwords should be updated at least 30 to 42 days for best security practices. If you have an IT department, set up a password expiration policy that forces uses to change them after a set number of days. Password management apps, like LastPass can be used to organise online password management.
Do a Cybersecurity AssessmentBefore you can build a good defence, you need to know exactly where you stand. Cybersecurity assessments are critical to determine your business’s security strengths – which you can amplify – and weaknesses to improve on. This provides the initial steps to secure your environment, prioritise resources and conduct a gap analysis before applying a risk management approach.
Make Sure Your Strategy Can Quickly AdaptEvery business should expect and plan for a data breach to occur at some point. Cybersecurity strategies must be flexible enough to adapt with the threat landscape. Business is not static. To grow, compete and own its place in the industry, new procedures and technologies must be adapted to match the pace of the business it’s protecting. Your strategy should also include an incident response plan. This helps pave the way for a quick and effective reaction to an attack. Once established, assign clear responsibilities for staff and hold everyone accountable. Effective cybersecurity isn’t one person’s job.
Focus on Proactive Threat HuntingProactive threat hunting is a focused and iterative approach to seeking out, identifying and understanding internal and external threats. It’s a method of searching networks and data to find such threats that can break down security defenses. The process is different to an incident response, which is a reactive reaction, rather than proactive. Benefits include:
- Uncover poorly-managed security solutions
- Reduced number of actual breaches
- Reduced frequency and number of malware infections
- Prevented spread of infection through networks
- Reduced time from infection to detection
Founder of Toward Music, Jayde Ferguson Walker is a music enthusiast and scripturient with a consuming passion to write. With 15+ years’ experience in the local music industry as a music journalist, Jayde also writes in the business, travel and home improvement industries. You can catch her on LinkedIn.