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Four expert strategies for business cybersecurity management

Friday, 30 September, 2022

As cyber threats become increasingly sophisticated, the costs associated with data breaches and losses will become even steeper. Research performed by IBM in 2022 showed that, on average, a cybersecurity incident cost businesses an average of nearly $4.4 million – a huge sum for anyone, but particularly crippling for small companies. Deloitte counted higher insurance premiums, damage to customer relationships, and even increases to debt servicing costs among the consequences.

Even as cybercrimes get trickier to combat, the so-called “human element” remains one of the highest cyber risks. For example, serious danger to a company’s system can begin when a team member unwittingly opens a phishing email. This demonstrates a clear need for cybersecurity management strategies to be developed and scaled across all levels of a company.

The primary objective is to build cyber resilience, much in the same way diet, exercise, and immunizations can help boost the human immune system. Cyberattacks can and will happen. While no one wants to absorb this idea into their mentality, the alternative is being caught off guard when something goes wrong.

 

Strategy #1: Build a risk profile.

Some cyber risks are common across companies and sectors of all kinds. Others will be unique to your industry, such as scams targeting patient data in healthcare, or to your company, which may have exclusive product lines, designs, or ideas that need to be protected. You may need to hire an external cybersecurity partner to help you objectively perform your risk analysis. This also means identifying the security precautions you already take, and considering whether these can be enhanced.

 

Strategy #2: Identify the most valuable data or assets to protect.

Cybersecurity is not simply about keeping data safe. Robust protection policies can affect customers, clients, and even a company’s reputation. Intellectual property, trade secrets, business data, and personal or financial information of any kind – including those of employees – should be prioritized for safekeeping. Evaluate the types of data your company uses and stores.

 

Strategy #3: Perform cybersecurity “drills.”

Fire drills are a preventative measure that protect buildings and those inside. Applying that practice to cybersecurity entails modeling and executing the steps you would take to respond if any protected information were endangered. Leverage a tabletop exercise to consider how an emergency or crisis situation could be brought under control as rapidly as possible.

Predictive incident management is an emerging technique for companies to be more stable and secure, while staying agile in the face of changing threats. Actions that can be taken include minimizing user access to sensitive data, maintaining up-to-date incident response plans, and practicing restoring data and systems from backup.

 

Strategy #4: Ensure cyber is included in training and upskilling.

Basic cybersecurity knowledge needs to be part of all team member skill sets. Not everyone that works for the company will become an IT expert – but this isn’t the goal. Leave the complicated matters for your in-house specialist, and encourage everyone else to be a partner in keeping the organization secure.

There needs to be a certain level of ownership throughout the business hierarchy. A good rule of thumb is, if you have a work computer or any access to one, you need to have an awareness of the company’s cyber culture and steps being taken to protect everyone. Prioritize cybersecurity knowledge as a part of both onboarding and subsequent annual employee assessments.

Lastly, make information as easy as possible to understand. For instance, distill a cyber policy that is several pages long into a bullet point summary you put at the front of the document, to prepare the reader for the details they will see next. Managers should promote cybersecurity awareness and highlight team members using best practices. A small threat can turn into a big problem very quickly, and your people can limit the impact of an incident if they know what to do.

Robust cybersecurity measures allow companies to stay competitive in an increasingly digitized world, where threats themselves are also becoming increasingly sophisticated. Small- or medium-sized businesses can breathe a bit easier with the use of a few basic strategies like these.

Skinner Technology Group, a Hernando, Mississippi-based provider of IT managed services, business network management, and cybersecurity consulting, focuses on enabling its clients to fully leverage technology investments while keeping customer data safe and maintaining their brand reputations. Founder and principal consultant Mike Skinner has more than 20 years of experience in IT and cybersecurity services across multiple industries.

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