Cybersecurity for Business: A Guide for Company Executives
26 Mar 19 by
Cyber crime is an incredibly profitable industry, with revenue of $1.5 trillion per year. Attackers are highly motivated to break into business networks to access valuable data or demand payment from organizations to unlock their data. With the reality companies face your business needs a comprehensive set of security controls in place to thwart these attacks and stop attacks from getting in the way of productivity or creating massive financial losses.
Threats that can Bring Down an Organization
Cyber attacks are costly for businesses, especially if they result in unexpected downtime. Here are common threats that your organization may face.
- Phishing: Your employees deal with many emails in a day. They may not always look too closely at ones that seem “off.” Phishing tactics pass off fraudulent emails as legitimate to try to gain access to network resources, install malware on computers or otherwise disrupt business operations. Depending on the goal of the attacker, a phishing attempt can lead to network downtime, data and financial losses and compromised systems.
- Malware: These malicious programs have a number of effects on your network. They could create back doors for unauthorized access, disrupt performance, and compromise critical systems. It may be challenging to remove malware from systems depending on the method that it uses to proliferate throughout the network.
- Ransomware: Ransomware is a specific type of malware that encrypts the data on the network so that you’re unable to access it. The attackers demand a ransom to supply you with the encryption key, but they don’t always fulfill their end of the bargain. In many cases, organizations with proper backup solutions can ignore these demands and restore their systems from a previous backup or image.
- Internal Actors: Sometimes the attackers exist in your organization or with your external partners. Since they already have authorized access to some systems, they can leverage these accounts to break into other parts of the network.
- Advanced Persistent Threats: This is a broad term that covers sophisticated attacks that use a multi-faceted approach. The impact of advanced persistent threats can be long-lasting, with significant financial and operational losses.
Tools and Hardware to Secure Business Networks
The complex nature of modern IT infrastructure requires a comprehensive solution that covers network vulnerabilities. Firewalls and anti-malware solutions limit the opportunities for attackers to breach the perimeter of network. Intrusion detection allows your network administrators and IT security team to act quickly.
Mobile device management accounts for all of the business and personal mobile devices connecting to your network and puts security controls in place to stop compromised smartphones and tablets from bringing malware to the network.
User access control, authentication and authorization measures prevent users from having too much access to the system, as well as verifying that the person is who they say they are.
The Importance of Disaster Recovery
Data breaches can bring down your systems, cause data loss, reduce productivity and damage your reputation with your customers. A disaster recovery plan allows you to quickly bring your network back online to minimize the disruption to your operations.
The important areas to cover in this plan include:
- Which systems have the highest priority for getting back online
- What is the chain of command during disaster recovery
- Are any external partners involved in bringing systems back up
- What backup systems are in place
- Where are redundant systems located
- What failover systems are in place
- Who needs to be informed in the event of a disaster
- Who are the essential personnel for this situation
You have two cybersecurity options for protecting your organization.
You can have an in-house IT security team that handles implementing your security controls, monitoring the network, responding to attacks and deploying disaster recovery strategies. The advantage to having cybersecurity in-house is that you have full control over the team. However, sourcing skilled professionals can be difficult due to demand, and you have to consider the above-market salaries and overhead expenses such as benefits that they receive.
Another downside to consider is that putting cybersecurity responsibilities on your team will take them away from their supportive role. That exhaustion of resources will be exacerbated if a cyber attack occurs. This is why many companies opt to outsource their cybersecurity a partner.
Outsourcing to an MSP
Outsourcing to a Managed IT Service Provider that offers cybersecurity is another solution. You eliminate the costs associated with recruiting, onboarding and retaining IT security employees, along with paying for the services on an as-needed or monthly basis. You don’t have as much control over the team as you would with an in-house configuration, and you may need to ensure that external partners comply with any data security regulations that you have to follow.
Outsourcing Your Cybersecurity Needs
If you’re interested in pursuing the outsourcing option, then you can work with the Managed IT Service Provider to develop a Systems Security Plan (SSP). This document goes over all of the security controls that protect your network, the way that they’re implemented and other relevant information. It also covers the policies and procedures relating to information security.
A managed IT services provider is an excellent resource to have on hand for routine IT security and disaster recovery situations. They can complement your in-house team or act as the primary cybersecurity team as needed. For more information about Managed IT Services and how working with an MSP can help your business, please see our guide to Managed IT Services.
Cyber criminals have no deterrent to stopping their activities while they remain profitable. Your organization needs a robust set of defenses that minimizes vulnerabilities and addresses the most common attack methods. This approach makes you a less attractive target for low-hanging attacks and gives you more time to fight back against more complex intrusions.