A solid cybersecurity plan is critical for businesses today. With cyberattacks at an all-time high, having a comprehensive plan can mean the difference between sustainability and disaster. Here are seven crucial elements that effective cybersecurity plans should include.
1. Know Your Needs
Every company is unique. Your cybersecurity plan must be formulated to fit your specific needs and goals. For instance, if you’re a startup with a small (or nonexistent) IT budget, more automated tools might need to be employed. If your company uses vintage computers and devices, that presents distinct vulnerabilities to attacks.
Understand, too, that laxity in cybersecurity could constitute a legal liability. Cyber insurance exists to help cover these costs, so consider making a cyber insurance coverage checklist. Research the specific cybersecurity laws in your local state and municipality. As the threats evolve, the regulations do, too.
2. Monitor Your Data
Unmonitored data is unsecured data. That’s why data monitoring is a service offered by many IT companies. Data monitoring services run the gamut from dashboard functions and generated alerts to auditing and crisis resolution. Monitoring software is often sold as a package. It’s also vital to limit data silos in your organization. Silos form when poor communication leads to data getting lost or isolated. Keeping an eye on your data is step one in protecting it.
3. Train Staff to Recognize Threats
New security threats are constantly emerging. A recent study showed that around 85% of data breaches involved a human element. In other words, someone made an error that compromised security. Sometimes people fall for scams over the phone. In other cases, they click on a malicious link in an email. Educate your team regarding the latest threats and how to avoid them. Ensure that everyone is on the same page in terms of cybersecurity protocols.
4. Encrypt Everything
Encryption is one of the most efficient tools against data breaches. Hard drives can (and arguably should) be encrypted. Microsoft Windows started offering this option in 2007. Storing sensitive data offline removes the threat of hacking, and many flash drives now offer encryption and biometric security options. Remember to use a virtual private network (VPN) (if possible) to keep data secure from third parties when browsing. The more layers of security you can deploy, the safer your systems will be.
5. Take a Zero Trust Approach
Zero-trust security architecture is getting popular for a reason. The term “zero-trust” in security means assuming malicious intent from new users on your network. It might sound slightly paranoid, but it’s important to remember that cyberattacks can be launched from anywhere. Insist on legitimate credentials from anyone accessing your network. Restrict a new user’s movement within your systems, and limit their privileges to the minimum needed to perform their task. In other words, take cybersecurity as seriously as you would physical protection.
6. Adapt to Remote Work
The remote work revolution has magnified the possibility of security breaches. For this reason, compliance is crucial for ensuring safety. Insist upon common security standards for remote workers. All devices should have the same level of password strength and antivirus protection. Instruct employees to avoid unsecured Wi-Fi routers and to limit their mixing of personal and business activities on the same device. Don’t allow any device to be a weak link in the chain.
7. Engage in Response Planning
A sizable fraction of the cost of a data breach lies in the response. It’s not just your data at risk; it’s your clients’ too. Loss of reputation, time spent contacting regulatory authorities, and the cost of repairs all add up. Plan for the worst before it happens. Have regular security drills and hone your interdepartmental communication skills. Have a list of all necessary contacts on hand at all times. Most importantly, be honest with your customers about the situation and what you’re doing to fix it.
Just because security threats are common doesn’t mean they’re unavoidable. Taking the proactive measure of creating a cybersecurity plan is step one in preventing an incident. These tips are only the beginning. Take a critical look at your company’s needs and craft a plan that fits.