It is often assumed only large organizations are targets for the most severe cyberattacks due to their higher worth, large employee base and extended business connections. In fact, small businesses are an attractive target for cybercriminals due to being more likely to have less dedicated and robust IT security resources, and therefore less prepared to withstand cyber threats.
Cyber-attacks can have a devastating effect on organizations, with only 40% of small companies able to continue operating after a data breach. Businesses of all sizes need to be aware of these increasing risks to keep their company data secure – no organization is immune from the threat of a cyber incident. It is vital to be aware of the essential elements that form a robust and critical part of your company’s cybersecurity strategy and improve your overall cybersecurity posture.
Following are five vital cybersecurity elements that are critical to your cybersecurity and business continuity:
1. Security awareness
One of the most important parts of cybersecurity is cultivating and maintaining a strong security-first culture within your organization. Employees can be the weakest link in your information security strategy, with the predominant amount of data loss caused by human error. Employees can accidentally click on malicious links sent via phishing emails, or they might reveal sensitive data on a fake website, putting the entire organization at severe risk.
To ensure this doesn’t occur, it is vital to ensure your employees from the top down are trained to be aware of potential cyber risks so they can become part of your company’s ‘human firewall’ and know what to look for and what to avoid. Security awareness training that is ongoing, engaging, and tests users can ensure knowledge stays updated and significantly improve risk management across the board.
2. Implement an effective security plan
Having an effective plan should be at the forefront of your cybersecurity strategy. As technology is continuously evolving, security solutions need to keep up with the expanding attack surface. Risk assessment looks at your IT environment and identifies potential security gaps that could be exploited, and ongoing vulnerability scans can continuously monitor to ensure network security is optimal.
Security programs should consider the most effective security solutions for your organization and ensure it fits your requirements and objectives. Access and identity management security controls ensure that only authorized users can access data, limiting the chances threat actors can access or steal data. Device encryption can protect devices by making it impossible for unauthorized users to access data without having the correct password or key, even if the drive is stolen or infected with malware.
3. Be prepared with a backup and recovery plan
Data is critical when it comes to keeping your business operational and growing successfully, but it is also incredibly valuable and can be easily lost through failed hardware, human error, or cyber-attack. It is vital to have a solid backup solution in place, or data can be completely erased and unable to be retrieved, leaving your business vulnerable to shutting down. Ransomware is a common attack method for cybercriminals, encrypting data and holding it hostage in return for a large ransom fee. Often this results in businesses being financially devastated if they try to pay the ransom, and it is in fact recommended to not make any payments by leading cybersecurity experts.
Disaster recovery planning and data backup plans in place mean your data is continuously backed up in the event of a disaster, whether cyber-attack or natural events such as fire or flood. Data is backed up usually on-premise, but also via cloud services, so it can be restored quickly and easily if the worst happens.
4. Enforce an identity protection strategy
As previously mentioned, human error is the leading cause of data breaches for businesses. Weak passwords and poor password management can mean unauthorized users are able to access data they should.
Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is used to authenticate users with more than one method of verification, such as a single-use code that is sent via text message or email after a user has entered their username/password combination. Password managers are also an important part of ensuring passwords aren’t lost or stolen, which happens regularly. A password manager is essentially an encrypted vault where passwords for all devices, applications, websites and software can be stored. They can also generate strong passwords to ensure employees don’t reuse the same combinations across multiple sites or applications.
5. Keep applications and software up to date
Software application security is vital to keep your operating systems and applications well protected. All third-party vendors regularly provide updates and patches to their products, to fix known security bugs and issues. Your security team should ensure all software is configured to automatically install updates as they become available.
Enable robust cybersecurity strategies with the security specialists
In a perfect world, your business would always be safe from cyber-attack, but with the rise in ransomware attacks and other malicious cyber threats, it has never been a better time for businesses to implement stronger cybersecurity strategies. Unfortunately, many small businesses don’t have the time or resources to adequately secure their networks and data from future cyber-attacks.
With the help of ThreatAdvice’s managed security services, you can benefit from technical expertise and experience, and keep your business secure. Contact ThreatAdvice today to see how they can help improve your cybersecurity posture.