Is your business equipped to take on the escalating security threats of the digital age? If not, then a smart strategy is needed. Recent reports state that half of the businesses in the United States have reported a data breach.
To make matters worse, if a hacker is successful and data is stolen, the company could end up paying almost $250 per stolen record. That is not a number to take lightly, especially if you are a smaller business. Luckily, it is not too late to take a proactive approach to cybersecurity. The tips below will provide a good start.
Start with a Risk Assessment
The first step to creating a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy is to develop a well thought out and executed risk assessment. Ideally, this assessment should be completed during the earliest stages of your company, so you can be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances and have a plan to mitigate the damage. Start by listing all potential issues that can occur, from employee error to terrorist attacks, and then list the scenarios as most to least likely to occur.
Of course, your risk assessment must include potential risks associated with cybersecurity, of which there are many. These days, hackers use many social hacking strategies, including phishing emails that evoke feelings of concern in an employee, like an email that appears to be from a bank or their boss. The emails often include a link or attachment, and when clicked, they allow ransomware to get into the system.
Once a virus or a piece of ransomware is active, private information can be stolen or taken ransom until a company pays a hefty sum. Hackers can also take advantage of old software that has not been updated, or they can launch a malware attack that originates from infected software that an employee installs on their machine. Your risk assessment must have a plan of action for all of these harmful scenarios. Of course, to avoid the unthinkable, preventive measures are key.
The next step in your cybersecurity strategy is to adopt preventive measures that will keep potential threats at bay. A great way to think about protection for your particular business is to look at what companies have done in the past. For instance, many businesses have turned to more strict background checks for new hires along with having employees sign confidentiality agreements, so they are effectively banned from sharing confidential information.
Many executives are also learning the importance of effective backup systems. If data is breached, backup servers must be in place, so your business and customer data can be easily retrieved. There is also the option of saving your backup data to the cloud, which takes your data completely off the grid, so if your central infrastructure is hit, you still have what you need, and your business can quickly get back on its feet.
It is also important to keep your systems secure. Antivirus software must be installed on all machines, and the software must be updated whenever there is a new version so new threats can be stopped. Then, secure your websites with solid firewalls and encrypt them for security.
The best way to have a successful strategy is to create a culture of security throughout your business, not only with the IT team. The key is to have well-trained employees who understand the risks and how to prevent them. You can even have some of your staff become certified in cybersecurity so they can understand the deeper issues and communicate them to their co-workers.
However, even if they are not certified, there are still many policies that employees can follow that will help to secure your business. Start with passwords. They should be complex, including a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. On top of that, two-factor authentication should be implemented, which has employees on all levels enter a second passcode before they can access their computer.
Strict cybersecurity measures go for mobile devices, as well. These days, more businesses are encouraging a “bring your own device” environment, which allows employees to work remotely. However, devices can be easily hacked when workers are out and about, so tablets and cell phones must be updated regularly, and all information must be encrypted, so the information is unreadable if a hacker is able to gain access.
Every single company needs to incorporate a smart cybersecurity strategy for the sake of their equipment and their customers. Creating a smart strategy with these simple steps can go a long way.