Cyberattacks are forefront in the minds of every business owner, regardless of the type of business or the size or the company. No one is out-of-reach for these unscrupulous criminals. Despite the considerable efforts of IT technicians and sophisticated software designed to detect and prevent unauthorized access to your networks and data, clever thieves continue to find and exploit weak points.
One recent report revealed a cyberattack on Mexico oil giant Pemex that has crippled their computer systems, with the hacker demanding a ransom of $5 million. This hacker claims responsibility for other attacks on other companies in different types of businesses, as well. Even if the companies can recover from these cyberattacks, there remains the question of what data may have been destroyed, stolen, or altered.
What is your cyberattack prevention plan, and how do you know how effective it is?
Proactive vs. Reactive Cybersecurity
What are the differences between a proactive and reactive cybersecurity plan?
A reactive philosophy in dealing with cyberattacks includes activities under potentially severe conditions that exist after an incident has occured, such as:
- Engaging technical resources to perform data recovery;
- Investigating system logs to determine the cause and extent of the attack;
- Hiring consultants to clean and secure servers, workstations, and other devices; or
- Notifying legal and HR teams to evaluate any lost confidential information so that impacted employees or customers can be notified.
These are just some of the reactive measures companies can expect to take after their security defenses have been compromised.
Cybercriminals are well-versed in common safeguards. In addition, a large percentage of cyber theft is initiated internally, often by employees or contractors who have been granted privileged access to IT resources—often for legitimate support purposes.
Plans that are based primarily on a reactive approach suffer from one key flaw: the damage has already been done and there’s no guarantee of recovery!
What Is Proactive Cybersecurity?
Studies have demonstrated companies that have a board-level commitment to IT security and take a proactive approach to cybersecurity realize a significantly lower cyber risk. This resulted in a 53% reduction in vulnerability as compared with other companies.
Proactive defenses against cyberattacks include a multi-phased approach:
- Management commitment—Your cybersecurity plan must include agreement across all departments that security is a top-level priority. No silos of information are supported—information is a corporate asset that must be protected with standard security policies and procedures.
- Employee buy-in—Every employee should be aware of security policies and practices that protect information from unauthorized access. This includes training in email policies, identification of suspicious documents, and handling phone calls that request proprietary information. Where employees have concerns that security policies impede productivity, there should be a review process that addresses potential resolution or provides a thorough understanding of the need for the policy.
- Training—Train your employees (including management and any internal IT techs) and create a process of continuous training. Cybercriminals are coming up with new methods and technology on a regular basis. Keeping your security experts updated is critical to maintaining your proactive cyberattack prevention plan.
- Consult with experts—No group or team can keep up with the multitude of cyberattacks permeating networks and information technology today. Even if you have an internal IT department, leverage outside expertise to supplement your cybersecurity plan. Review your plan with these professionals to maintain awareness of any new vulnerabilities and strategies for defense against them.
- Don’t underestimate the potential risk—Cyberattacks can happen to businesses of every size and in any industry. Don’t look at cybersecurity as an expense, look at is as an investment—don’t get stuck paying after the fact for something that could have been prevented by investing funds beforehand!
Companies who commit to a comprehensive, proactive cyberattack prevention plan will benefit from significantly reduced occurrence and vulnerability from malicious intrusions.
Proactive measures are a company’s best defense against cyberattacks of all kinds. These include reinforcement of the best practices above to reduce potential threats:
- Installing and updating anti-virus software on servers, desktops, and laptop computers
- Regular patching of operating systems and application software
- Firewalls that protect access to networks from unidentified sources or devices
- Password policies and enforcement to prevent unauthorized access to applications
- Enabling two-step authentication (also known as two-factor authentication, or 2FA) on as many systems, applications, and services as possible
- Clear and explicit communication policies on whom to contact when an incidents occurs or is suspected
The Impact from Cyberattack Vulnerability
There are many negative effects that result from penetration by cybercriminals, some more damaging than others:
- Loss of data—Malware and viruses can worm their way through your networks, stealing and even deleting critical information before you even detect the intrusion.
- Data theft—theft of financial data, confidential business trade secrets, employee information, and customer data.
- Denial of service—creating massive demands on your servers or websites, effectively shutting down services and preventing access by employees or legitimate customers.
- Damage to public image—Confidence in your company’s ability to protect confidential information can cause permanent harm to your image.
- Financial loss—Cyberattacks can result in ransom requests, fines, loss of business, and lower stock prices.
Creating a Cyberattack Prevention Plan
Cybercrime and ransomware are a growing threat. Your best defense is a comprehensive approach based on proactive planning. CDS Office Technologies has the networking and security expertise that will help your business identify vulnerabilities and create a complete cyberattack prevention plan. Our Managed Network Services team can help your business with answers for both prevention and remediation.
Consult the professionals at CDS Office Technologies for all your business networking, technology, and security solutions.