The Importance of Cybersecurity for Stakeholders

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As our world and businesses grow more digital by the hour, cybersecurity becomes an increasingly important concern for companies everywhere. This is especially true for a company’s stakeholders, who need to be aware of proper procedures and protocols to secure their organization.

In the upcoming year, the average losses that result from a data breach is expected to exceed $150 million. So, as the threat landscape continues to evolve and cyber threats grow more and more sophisticated, how can you protect your organization? By following a three-pronged approach:

  • Understanding that cybersecurity risks affect your entire enterprise
  • Allowing your leaders to set an example for the entire company on mitigating risk
  • Implementing actionable measures to keep your company more secure

Let’s take a closer look at each one of these components.

Cybersecurity risks affect the entire company

Due to the nature of cybersecurity risks, some decision-makers may assume that it is a problem for the IT department alone. Common assumptions include thinking it is solely the responsibility of the IT department to manage cyber risks as well as deal with their consequences once an attack or lapse in cybersecurity has occurred.

In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Your stakeholders decide where and how you dedicate your resources. That means they have a direct impact on how you manage cybersecurity risks. That’s why it’s important to educate those stakeholders so that they can provide the IT department with the needed resources to take the necessary measures and precautions.

As part of their risk management strategy, they should consider the myriad of ways a cyberattack, or how inadequate measures could adversely affect your organization:

All of these factors combined can contribute to your company’s ability to expand and innovate.

To be truly effective, your company’s cybersecurity must go beyond including it in your annual budget. Your company’s leadership should set the standard for the IT department. Take the example of the Equifax breach and settlement. In that circumstance, Equifax left critical domains unpatched for months and some even for years. A poor security management left them vulnerable to exploitation and the eventual data breach.

That means when it comes to cybersecurity, you need leadership that can hold their IT department accountable.

When it comes to cybersecurity, let your leaders lead

While your organization’s senior leadership probably doesn’t have the technical skills to set standards for proper cybersecurity, that doesn’t mean they can’t set expectations for their IT department. They should consider consulting a cybersecurity professional to obtain a detailed security roadmap for their organization and to understand which measures make the most sense for their business context.

This way, they will get a better handle on the budgetary needs that are required for proper cybersecurity protections and will have clearly defined steps to take to ensure a solid IT management. Along with ensuring they spend enough money to mitigate cybersecurity risks, receiving guidance from a professional consultant will also help them avoid spending too much on unnecessary measures.

Once they’ve consulted a specialist, they’ll be able to set the expected standards they want the company and their IT department to meet. Making the company’s leadership team advised on cybersecurity as a key risk management function will give the IT group a heightened level of accountability.

Measures they should be aware of

Once your organization builds a clearly defined cybersecurity roadmap and execution plan, stakeholders should be aware of the specific measures they’ll need to implement to manage and mitigate their risks. They should discuss each component with the head of their IT department to ensure all their bases are covered.

This list will vary depending on your organization and the type of work you do, but at a high level, below are the cybersecurity measures you should have in place:

Raise cybersecurity awareness

Have you or the people within your organization ever heard of a phishing attack? It’s when a malicious actor emails someone in your company with a request for authentication data or other sensitive information pretending to be a valid source. The email is often coercive and can be rather convincing, often mimicking a trusted or believable sender. Hackers will then use this information in order to gain access to critical systems and databases and perform further malicious acts. According to a recent study, 90% of successful cyberattacks stem from phishing attacks.

Through phishing test campaigns, you will obtain statistics on the risks of a phishing attack within your company and prove to your employees the risk that it represents. This will go a long way towards raising awareness and mitigating risks.

Conduct regular security audits

Security audits allow you to ensure that all your company’s IT systems, devices, technical configurations, and user privileges are all 100% secure and do not pose a risk for your organization. They provide technical solutions to mitigate risks associated with any configurations and unsafe implementations.

Perform penetration tests

Penetration tests allow you to identify technical vulnerabilities and how a hacker may exploit them for nefarious purposes. This helps your IT team get in the mind of a hacker, demonstrating to them how a hacker could potentially breach your security systems and infiltrate your IT. It also educates you on the type of attacks a hacker may pull off such as a ransomware attack or exfiltrating data. The end goal of a penetration test is to provide actionable recommendations to fix these vulnerabilities. They can replicate various scenarios, such as a malicious employee internally hacking your system, an infected workstation or a hacker attempting to gain access from the public internet.

For more on what measures you can use to combat cyberattacks and comprehensively prepare your organization, check out our “5 cybersecurity best practices” article.

Enhancing your company’s cybersecurity comes down to improving your preparedness and response. You should give your company stakeholders the tools they need to prepare for an event and then also the information and tactics they need to respond to one as well. For more on how you can better understand your own company’s cybersecurity risks and develop an action plan, contact us today.

A penetration test is a simulated hacking attempt that identifies opportunities for real hackers to break through your defences and perform various malicious acts. It generally leverages tools used by hackers and various professional methodologies to replicate the steps that modern hackers would take to intrude into your IT systems.

A pentest attempts to exploit your vulnerabilities to determine their potential impact, should they be used in a real hacking scenario. They provide a list of vulnerabilities with their respective level of severity, as well as technical recommendations to help your team apply corrective measures and focus on the most critical vulnerabilities.

These services allow your organization to answer the following questions, among several others:

  • Can a hacker gain access to any sensitive information?
  • Can a hacker hijack my technologies for any malicious acts?
  • Could a malware infection spread through the network?
  • Can an attacker escalate access to an administrative user?

Learn more about penetration testing →

There are many contexts in which a penetration test should be performed.

Here are some common use cases for a pentest:

  • As part of the development cycle of an application. (To test the security of a new feature/app)
  • To comply with security requirements. (3rd-parties, PCI, ISO27001, etc.)
  • To secure sensitive data from exfiltration.
  • To prevent infections by malware. (Ransomware, spyware, etc.)
  • To prevent disruptive cyberattacks. (Such as denial of service)
  • As part of a cybersecurity risk management strategy.

All businesses are advised to conduct a penetration test at least once a year, as well as after any significant upgrades or modifications to the company network. Given the rapid rate at which new exploits are discovered, we generally recommend that quarterly tests are performed.

Various steps are taken over the course of the project to prevent the potential impact of our tests on the stability of your technological environment and the continuity of your business operations.

For this reason, a communication plan will be put in place at the beginning of the project to prevent and mitigate any potential impact. A representative of your organization will be identified to act as the main point of contact to ensure rapid communication in the event of a situation directly impacting the conduct of your daily operations, or if any critical vulnerabilities are identified, for which  corrective measures need to be implemented quickly.

While we use a simple 4 levels risk rating approach (Critical, High, Moderate, Low), our risk assessment is actually based on the Common Vulnerability Scoring System (CVSS) standard. Two main criteria are considered when  assessing the risk level of each vulnerability:

  • Potential impact: The potential impact of an attack based on a vulnerability, combined with its  potential effect on the availability of the system, as well as the confidentiality and integrity of  the data.
  • Exploitability: The potential exploitability of a vulnerability; a vulnerability that is easier to  exploit increases the number of potential attackers and thus the likelihood of an attack.  Different factors are considered when evaluating the exploitability potential of a vulnerability  (e.g.: access vector, authentication, operational complexity, etc.)

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