Cybersecurity threats are on the rise with each passing year, bringing higher levels of incidents that threaten businesses of all sizes. Whether you’re the smallest “mom and pop” business or are among the largest international corporations or nonprofits, no organization is 100% safe from cyber attacks.
For many businesses, it can be a battle to strike the right balance between security and convenience. After all, users want to maximize convenience and usability, whereas IT staff want to maximize IT security by locking down systems or restricting access. These conflicting agendas mean that many organizations are trying to find ways to balance opposite ends of the spectrum by meeting somewhere in the middle.
However, if businesses make their security too lax in favor of convenience, it can lead to devastating results. Because of this, too many high-profile data breaches have occurred that could have been prevented — even as recently as last year: Examples of this include the breaches among Equifax, the National Health Service in the United Kingdom, and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. All of these breaches could have been prevented simply by keeping up with security patching, following other rudimentary cybersecurity recommendations, and having basic cyber protections in place (like two-factor authentication for example).
For a genuinely cringe-worthy example of how an industry leader could have avoided a major catastrophe (but didn’t), look no further than Yahoo. The infamous web giant was hacked in 2013 in an attack that left a reported 3 billion accounts exposed. The following year, the company was hacked again, revealing the private information and email addresses of as many as 500 million people through the use of a spear-phishing attack.
This second attack provided the hacker with access to Yahoo’s account management tool and user database, which contains crucial information such as password challenge questions and answers, phone numbers, names, and more.
All of this occurred because a Yahoo employee clicked on an email.
Security doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” proposition. It just needs to be taken seriously by the people within your organization — from the top on down. However, to adhere to regulatory requirements, there are times where security has to trump convenience.
Governing Bodies You Should Know
In the world of cybersecurity, there are several governing bodies that you should be familiar with:
- Center for Internet Security (CIS)
- Cloud Security Alliance (CSA)
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
- National Cyber Security Alliance
- SANS Institute
- U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT)
These organizations are responsible for outlining cybersecurity standards, guidelines, and best practices that help organizations to minimize the number of successful attacks against them. Essentially, their standards, such as CIS’s Controls and Benchmarks or NIST’s Framework, should be the backbone of your cybersecurity strategy.
Cyber Protections to Put in Place to Increase IT Security
Every organization should have a cybersecurity strategy in place. However, implementing one of these strategies doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. Working with your in-house IT staff or an IT Service Provider, your organization can begin to implement some common-sense practices, policies, and procedures that improve your cybersecurity stance while also being cost-effective.
Secure Your Network
Securing your network doesn’t have to be an exercise in futility. There are things you can do to harden your organization’s cybersecurity defenses, including:
- Limiting Access to Authorized Users;
- Implementing a Multi-Layer Security Approach;
- Completing a Technology Audit;
- Performing Penetration Testing; and
- Implementing Employee Use Policies and Settings.
Teach Employees to Recognize Threats Through Training
As someone with more than 25 years of experience in IT security and IT services, unfortunately I've seen too much of what amounts to cyber-ignorance exhibited by clients’ employees when it comes to cybersecurity awareness and best practices.
By dedicating the time and resources to teaching employees at all levels — everyone from the CEO down to the office assistant — you can increase your organization’s cybersecurity posture you can teach them how to identify and respond to a variety of threats.
Cyber threats come in several different formats. External threats can manifest in many ways, including:
- Business Email Compromise (BEC).Insider Threats (your own employees)
However, external threats are not the only concerns for organizations. According to an article by the Harvard Business Review, the role that insiders play in the vulnerability of all corporations is significant and growing: “IBM found that 60% of all attacks were carried out by insiders. Of these attacks, three-quarters involved malicious intent, and one-quarter involved inadvertent actors.”
Although cybersecurity training can’t prevent people from intentionally doing bad things, other cyber protections can be put in place to help mitigate those insider threats, such as limiting user access. However, the unintentional threat that inside users pose can be addressed through cybersecurity awareness training.
Human error is one of the biggest entry points for hackers, and employees often compromise their organizations’ computers (and their networks as a result) without even realizing it.
Outsource Your IT Security Services
An effective managed IT security services team is designed to help your company detect and prevent security events and intrusions (as well as quickly recover from such events). This is much like having an in-house IT security team—just without all of the extra costs associated with hiring such a team internally (salaries, benefits, continuous training, etc.), which easily tops six figures per year for one person’s salary alone.
With FPA as your Managed IT Security Service Provider, you’ll have access to a dedicated team of IT experts who will monitor your network for threats and keep your systems up to date. You pay a set rate and receive top-tier service that removes the worry and responsibility from your shoulders. At FPA, we focus on IT so you can focus on your business.
How has your organization balanced security and convenience or customer usability? Share your thoughts with us about this topic in the comments section below or send me an email to discuss it more in-depth.