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For small and big companies alike, cybersecurity threats pose a risk too large to ignore. According to IT Security Economics Report by Kaspersky Labs, more than 77% of businesses suffered cybersecurity attacks in 2017. Another report, The 2018 State of Cybersecurity in Small and Medium Size Business Study, by Ponemon Institute and Keeper Security reveals that small and midsize businesses (SMBs) face more or less the same cybersecurity risks as large companies.
To a great extent, the prevalence of such threats has to do with the increasingly digital landscape in which businesses today are operating. At the moment, it is not so much a matter of “if” a security breach will take place; rather, it is a matter of “when.”
Cybersecurity threats compromise the privacy of company and customer data, placing the bottom line at risk and causing major reputation damage. But implementing a strategy, particularly for companies that have not experienced a major breach is not exactly straightforward.
In this article, we will discuss three crucial tips to keep in mind when planning and implementing a cybersecurity strategy.
1. The role of teamwork – get employee buy-in
Implementing a reliable framework should not be the preserve of the IT team. A better approach is to have the entire team in on your strategy. No matter how seemingly effective and extensive your measures are, it is impossible to ignore the human element.
95% of breaches are reportedly the result of human error and most of them aren’t committed by members of the IT department.
In many cases, employees might fail to comply with the procedures set in place because of communication breakdowns between departments. For example, the IT team may not exactly understand how individuals in a specific department work. At the same time, department members could skip the required steps in the security process because they simply do not understand the value of the process.
To avert either of these situations, it is important to have team buy-in and open discussions on how and why of the measures you plan to implement.
Test your own company with a demo breach
To make things seem real, demo a break-in that demonstrates the vulnerability of the company to a breach. You could choose to have the employees break in or have someone else do it as they watch.
Make sure everyone understands both the objective and the outcome of the strategy. Involve them in the planning and implementation process. Find ways to reinforce the message across the office without suffocating employees. And remember to make it part of the orientation process for new employees.
2. Document company security policies clearly
Having a clearly documented security policy is a foundational block for any cybersecurity strategy. Everyone within a company needs to know what the rules and procedures for accessing IT systems are and follow them.
Such documentation would not only outline the do’s and don’ts but it would also show the importance of adhering to the rules. Notably, too, it should clearly indicate the consequences of failure to adhere to the requirements. New employees should get acquainted with the documentation on day one and have the opportunity to refer to it as often as possible.
On one hand, this will protect the organization from internal and external users who could have malicious intent. It will also establish a baseline security stance to minimize overall risks for the organization.
3. Go for a proactive rather than reactive approach
More often than not, cybersecurity strategies are limited to logging, monitoring networks and sending alerts in the case of a breach. But the modern approach focuses on taking a proactive stance so as to avoid the possibility of getting overwhelmed by attacks.
Though a majority of companies have security safeguards in place, overreliance on these safeguards poses its own set of challenges. Being reactive simply means that attackers are calling the shots and you are at their mercy. At the same time, remediation costs are often higher than the cost of putting in place appropriate measures, to begin with.
What’s a proactive approach?
A proactive approach looks to identify any potential weaknesses in the system or loopholes and prevent them from being exploited. One of the greatest challenges in this regard is the fact that cybercriminals constantly change techniques. This not only makes it hard to keep up with them but also makes cyber-attacks hard to detect. The Ponemon Institute reveals that on average, companies take 191 days to realize they have been hacked.
To avert this, it is important that a company take the offensive and constantly hunt for threats. It involves identifying and mitigating every hazardous condition that could lead to any sort of compromise.
Furthermore, you need to implement continuous real-time monitoring of secure networks to be able to implement a quick response before an incident takes place.
At the same time, keep in mind that a majority of attacks come from within the organization. Therefore, monitor employee activity as well and take note of any deviations from the norm.
A realistically attainable objective
Creating and implementing a successful cybersecurity strategy takes significant time and resources but you can rest assured that the efforts and investments are worthwhile. Making a success of the exercise requires organizations to get out of the trap of traditional strategies and approaches and rethink things.
By having everyone in a company involved in the planning and implementation, having your policy down in writing and taking a proactive approach, taking action before any real damage is done will be realistically attainable.
Nica is a BA Political Science degree holder who specializes in fintech, SaaS, business and academic writing. She has experience working with founders who graduated from Harvard, tech startups funded by Y-Combinator, CEOs of multi-million dollar blockchain companies, investment companies in London and many more.