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:
- A breach could expose your employee or customer data to nefarious actors.
- A malware or ransomware attack could leave your IT systems frozen for days, causing service interruptions for your customers and your staff.
- Failure to follow proper protocol or neglecting your cybersecurity could result in large fines as well as a loss of consumer trust and, in turn, financial losses due to either loss of business or expensive lawsuits. For example, the average data breach cost U.S. companies $4.13 million due to customer turnover and loss of reputation.
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.