Why corporate cybersecurity is more important than ever
While no IT infrastructure can be completely safe, there are steps you can take to erect the strongest possible cyberdefense.
In today’s business world, technology plays an ever-greater part, no matter what type of company you run. But, as technology evolves, so do the things that can make it work against rather than for you. Simply listening to the news can give you an idea of common threats, including data breaches, employee malfeasance, and weather-related disasters.
Yet, companies aren’t helpless against these threats. As we discuss below, simply making employees more aware of them and offering tools to counteract them can go a long way toward hardened technology systems and overall company success. Further efforts by knowledgeable internal staff or IT outsource firm can make an even bigger difference. Here we present some of the biggest threats and how to manage them.
A data breach is the unauthorized access of a company’s data. Once they’ve infiltrated a corporate system, criminals can disrupt the normal functioning of your company’s technology or retrieve and sell customer data. Such an attack can happen as a result of system vulnerabilities (often due to out-of-date software), human error (including weak passwords), or the use of malware.
These problems aren’t just technological in nature. With the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in place, companies that are breached must pay penalties to the EU.
What to do: Review your data defense capabilities. Consider conducting a security audit or hiring an outside firm to do so. Using these results, you can realistically determine weak points in your system. Once you have this objective assessment, develop a plan to shore up those areas. Be sure to schedule a reassessment every year or so.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to grow to about $520 billion in 2021, more than double the $235 billion spent in 2017. In other words, the IoT will continue to bring more devices online within businesses. The improvement in these devices can support manufacturing, storage, logistics, and other areas of business.
But more devices mean more potential entry points for cybercriminals to exploit. Given the need to embrace the IoT to remain competitive, you must also accept the need for added measures to keep them and, by extension, your entire company, secure.
What to do: As with all connected devices, strong passwords are essential, as are strong network devices (secure router and enabled firewall). Ensure device software has access to regular updates and patches. Limit the amount of data stored on each device. Question the necessity of each device and the trade-off of the added vulnerability versus the device’s utility. Finally, test all IoT devices frequently to detect vulnerabilities.
One of the biggest threats to a company’s cybersecurity is its employees. Whether by accident or on purpose, employees have a great deal of power to disrupt a company’s technology and create massive problems. 9 out of 10 respondents in a global study believe that establishing a stronger cybersecurity culture would increase the profitability or viability of their organization.
Fortunately, compared to other types of threats, employees are a factor you have more control over. The key is to build a strong cybersecurity culture, which is one in which employees recognize their role in security, participate in training programs, and actively perform security-friendly processes.
What to do: Stop thinking of cybersecurity as solely an IT function. Train employees across the company to be aware of their part in maintaining cybersecurity. If you already have a program, reevaluate it frequently to ensure recommended processes are still adequate. Technology changes regularly and so must practices for combatting its misuse.
The increase in frequency and severity of weather events is something all businesses should give some serious thought to. What happens if your company, or even part of it, is damaged or destroyed? How much data, business, and revenue would you lose? What can you do to prevent these losses, even in a terrible disaster? Do you have the capacity to protect and retain customer data and other critical information in the event of weather disruption?
What to do: Develop a business continuity plan, meaning established processes to continue operations should anything go awry. Such a plan should include ensuring the safety of employees, customers, and vendors, retrieving data from backup systems, moving certain processes (such as manufacturing) if necessary, and transferring phone lines to external locations.
Cybersecurity has been an issue ever since the early days of computing. As technology has advanced, so have the number of ways in which criminals take advantage of vulnerabilities in these systems. Results can be harmless, such as practical jokes, or devastating, such as the procurement and sale of millions of pieces of private customer information. A single incident can impact a company’s finances, efficiency, and reputation.
As a company owner or manager, you must do everything possible to protect against such attacks. While no IT infrastructure can be completely safe, there are steps you can take to erect the strongest possible cyberdefense.
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