For an effective cybersecurity program, organizations need to have a clear understanding on how the overall threat environment is evolving. As your business continues to grow, your exposure to cyber-attacks grows with it. You are constantly subjected to a variety of risks, including hacking, fraud and theft of information from both internal and external sources. Many times, you may be unaware it is happening. By building out a strategic and evolving cybersecurity program, you can ensure you are prepared against cyber-attacks.
To help you in the process, Doeren Mayhew’s IT Advisory and Security team share five steps you can take to minimize your exposure.
1. Develop & Promote A Culture With Risk Management At The Forefront
One of your best defenses against a cybersecurity attack is to create a culture that embraces cybersecurity protocols, training, involvement and investment from top to bottom. Your employees are not only your company’s greatest asset, but they are also one of your biggest threats to cybersecurity. This includes malicious insiders, employees falling victim to social attacks like phishing or pretexting and just plain old human error.
To create a security-centric culture, it needs to start at the top. An organization needs key decision makers and leaders to be on board with cybersecurity. This includes educating employees on their roles and responsibilities as they relate to cybersecurity, understanding and standing behind security investments and encouraging the organization to include cybersecurity within the enterprise risk framework. To do this, ongoing training on the various topics of cybersecurity should be rolled out to all employees. Make trainings mandatory and tie them to the goals of their role. Make certain you are setting clear expectations across the organization, so everyone understands what is expected from them. Finally, assess the program’s progress and adjust as you go.
2. Implement A Password Management System & Single Sign-On (SSO)
There is a clear path toward consistent and high-quality security; password management and single sign-on. Instead of asking your employees to remember dozens of passwords, they will only be required to enter one. This reduces the likelihood that they will use weak passwords, or even worse, reuse them. Another measure you can take is to increase the required password length, as longer passwords are harder for attackers to guess or crack. This can also lessen the need for varying numeric, symbol or letter requirements, and change frequency. This works best in combination with multi-factor authentication tools, which only allow access to individuals who have your password and your phone.
3. Understand Your Access
Your organization uses technology every day to help your business run more efficiently, but do you have a clear understanding of each employee’s access to company or customer information? It is important to have a solution in place to catalog all the user access rights within your organization. Once this is complete, meet with your management teams to review the list and make any adjustments. All systems should be included, as any system ignored or excluded from access management increases risk exposure. In addition, managers should set up their systems so employees need verification before they can access highly sensitive information. Therefore, employees who have access to the highly sensitive information are the only ones who need it. This should also include making sure your process works for removing terminated employees from accessing all systems.
4. Conduct Internal Assessments
A cybersecurity assessment can help ensure your business is taking the proper steps to protect itself. Companies today are taking advantage of technologies that allow them to gather, track and analyze customer and financial data to make better business decisions. This includes software for essential business activities such as payroll, accounts receivable and payable, supply chain management, human resources and benefits, and on-site security.
By conducting a formal cybersecurity assessment, you can inventory your hardware and software, identify any potential vulnerabilities and implement internal controls and other protective measures to reduce risk. There are several recognized cybersecurity standards and frameworks to guide these efforts developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the International Organization for Standardization. If this is an area where you don’t have the bandwidth, you may want to hire a qualified information technology (IT) consultant to conduct a customized cybersecurity risk assessment.
The value of a cybersecurity risk assessment comes from you gaining an understanding of where your security gaps are, what next steps you should take, who you should talk to and how to make informed investments.
5. Outsource Your Cybersecurity Program
It is more important than ever to ensure your organization is prepared to identify potential threats early on and reduce your security exposure to heightened risks. It may be hard to keep up with the everchanging regulatory landscape, conduct testing to ensure your organization has the tools to respond to an attack and align your IT framework with your organization’s overall strategy. It may be worth considering outsourcing your cybersecurity.
It is important for organizations to not put cybersecurity on the back burner. The primary step organizations should take is to foster a culture of awareness and establish a security foundation.
No matter where your cybersecurity position is today, Doeren Mayhew’s cybersecurity specialists can guide you through understanding your security posture, offer solutions to keep you protected and implement strategies to combat attacks, positioning your organization to turn risks into opportunities. Our IT Advisory and Security Group deploys a business-oriented approach, creating a strong foundation of controls to manage your IT risks and demanding IT compliance through a menu of services, tailorable to your organization’s needs.
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