The internet has revolutionized how organizations conduct business. However, that same connectivity has enabled hackers to steal company data and your customers’ personal and financial information. Hackers also conduct cyber extortion schemes, using the internet to take over business computer networks and demanding a ransom to release control.
Protecting your business from cybercrime is a sound reason to invest in cybersecurity. You can also turn cybersecurity into a competitive advantage that fosters customer loyalty. Customers will turn to companies with stringent data safety practices to make purchases.
We’ll explore how to carry out a thorough cybersecurity risk assessment, as well as the financial, reputational and compliance benefits of robust cybersecurity.
General security tips to keep your business safe include training your team on security best practices, keeping antivirus solutions updated, and enacting and enforcing security policies and procedures.
Cybersecurity threats constantly evolve as hackers find new ways to infiltrate companies’ IT networks. Cybersecurity experts recommend that businesses carry out at least one cybersecurity risk assessment yearly as part of their overall cybersecurity plan.
Take the following four steps to protect your company:
Cybersecurity risk assessments expose existing technical weaknesses across your IT network. However, you must have an in-depth working knowledge of your company’s hardware and software to spot them. You must also understand how to secure your business’s Wi-Fi network.
If you or your team don’t thoroughly understand your network setup, call in a cybersecurity expert to conduct the assessment.
Whatever your cybersecurity risk assessment reveals, commit to making substantial system changes to remove all current vulnerabilities, despite any cost or disruption concerns.
“If businesses don’t have the experience, the tools or the team to conduct a thorough and accurate risk assessment, and are just trying to save costs by doing it themselves, they can experience increased costs in the future when a hack or data breach that could have otherwise been prevented occurs,” said Keri Lindenmuth, marketing team lead for business services provider KDG. “Many small businesses don’t recover from a data breach because of the financial implications and end up closing their doors forever.”
Next, perform a vulnerability assessment to identify security-related issues affecting your hardware, business internet connection, website and software.
At the start of the assessment, identify every device that connects to the internet via Wi-Fi or Ethernet and everyone who uses them. In addition to desktop and laptop computers, list cell phones, printers and security cameras. They’re all potential entry points for hackers or malicious code – even your Wi-Fi routers.
Determine every device’s risk level and decide how to shut down that risk. Take the following steps to effectively mitigate cyber risks:
If your website and company software are integrated, your customer records and other valuable data may be at heightened risk. It’s crucial to include your website in your cybersecurity risk assessment to protect that data.
Common problems with websites include a lack of SSL/TLS certificates and HTTPS, which are factors in securing a domain.
Software vendors regularly issue updates or patches designed to improve security in the following ways:
Vendors only provide patches during their products’ lifetimes. Consider replacing software that’s no longer supported. Ensure all supported software on your system has the latest patches. Sign up for each vendor’s newsletter to receive details about forthcoming patches.
No matter what steps you’ve taken to create a robust technical firewall, your team is likely your biggest cybersecurity weakness.
Most cyber attacks are unsuccessful. However, unwitting employees are often the entry point for successful breaches. Hackers get what they want when employees are unaware that their actions are risky or that they’ve been tricked.
The biggest threat comes from phishing, a type of social engineering attack. Here are some common phishing tactics:
Social engineering attacks like these work because they take advantage of the shortened decision-making processes we all use to get things done faster.
To train your staff to avoid phishing scams and set them up for cybersecurity success, consider the following:
The best VPN services provide fast, secure connections while encrypting data. The intercepted data will be indecipherable even if a hacker infiltrates an employee’s device.
A truly secure network doesn’t connect to the internet. But that’s not a feasible option now. You must accept that there are risks in going online. In your cybersecurity risk assessment, consider the risk level you find acceptable.
When you find a vulnerability, consider how hard it would be to defend yourself against an attack that exploits it. Determine the damage a hacker could do if they entered your network via that vulnerability.
Big businesses aren’t the only ventures under threat from cybercriminals – small businesses faced $2.98 million in data breach costs in 2021, according to IBM.
In addition to costly risks from cyber attacks, some businesses must meet industry-specific cybersecurity compliance standards, such as HIPAA for healthcare businesses, FERPA for educational institutions, and PCI DSS for companies taking credit and debit card payments.
It’s crucial for businesses to budget for cybersecurity. The financial and reputational damage incurred by losing company and customer data is significant and may lead to your business’s demise.
Andrew Martins contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.