Editor´note: This is a guest post by Faith, a cybersecurity and technology blogger for Secure Thoughts.
In recent years, going online with your business has become a necessity, increasing the opportunities available to cybercriminals. Since hackers and cybercriminals are getting more active, it is only a matter of time before someone tries to hack your business. According to Symantec’s 2016 Internet Security Threat Report, phishing campaigns target small businesses 43 percent of the time. They target your money, and they’re after your customers’ information, which is often far more valuable on the black market. With this set of threats in mind, you need a plan of action for your business should you find yourself a victim. This is where a cybersecurity agenda comes into play. It is a document strategy managers (and employees) can refer to in the event of an incident or during regular company maintenance. It allows everyone to stay on the same page and react efficiently and effectively, ideally minimizing or prevent damage.
This document or set of documents can save companies a large amount of money and reputational loss. Businesses who employ cybersecurity professionals will save money per record if there’s be a data breach. The saving will more than make up the cost of the employees. If your business is just starting out, it would still be wise to employ a consultant during this process and research the right cybersecurity options for your business.
The Costs of Cyberattacks and Data Breaches
To further evidence the necessity of a cybersecurity agenda, consider what might happen should a high-profile company suffer a data breach. The reputation of such a company would be tarnished in both the press and professional circles as leaked communications get released to the public. Additionally, sensitive business plans and agreements in negotiation will get out into the open, potentially compromising months or years of work. Lawsuits might come from former employees (or current employees) whose information was leaked to the public. The damage won’t clear for years to come.
Certain sectors of the economy are targeted more often than others. The health care industry, for example, regularly sees hacks that have victims that number in the thousands or even millions. Some hacks make national headlines and involve companies providing identity protection services to millions of people as a preventative measure (and this is an expensive service). What’s worse is that without those types of conciliatory measures, the civil lawsuits would stack up and potentially ruin even a large business. While your business may not be this large, you should note that the scope of these attacks is total and unrelenting.
Let’s consider some of the reasons hackers might want your information:
- Corporate espionage still occurs, perhaps now more than ever in the information age. If you have trade secrets you want to keep, make note of them in your cybersecurity
- As mentioned previously, customer records and credit card numbers are always of some value to hackers (around $30 for a full set) and will be stolen at the first opportunity.
- A disgruntled employee or an unethical competitor may wish to sabotage your company’s reputation if you are successful, growing or perceived as a threat.
- While not necessarily as common as other hacks, cybercriminals will be happy to take whatever liquid assets they can from your business.
If you have any of these assets, you need to adjust your cybersecurity plan to make protecting them a priority.
Why Every Company Needs a Cybersecurity Agenda
In the early stages of a cyberattack, a fast response time and a unified strategy are key. Time spent formulating a defense could be better spent administering programs and plans that were determined in a less urgent time.
In larger and growing organizations with many departments, a cybersecurity agenda will also help with the issue of centralizing communications. Decisions sometimes need to be made within a few hours, and the agenda will relieve some of the communications burdens experienced by larger enterprises.
Perhaps the most important reason why your company needs a cybersecurity agenda is that most cybersecurity incidents are caused by human error. If employees and managers have a clear list of priorities and steps to take, this reduces the risk of that human error (assuming it’s followed properly). Your business can also include benefits and a clear chain of command to assign responsibility in the event of negligence.
These, in combination with previous considerations, allow businesses to receive a great return on the investment they put in a cybersecurity agenda.
What to Include in Your Agenda
While every cybersecurity agenda will be slightly different, here are some common items or issues nearly all cybersecurity agendas should address:
- Any and all tools and programs that each team or the company as a whole should be using. These include firewalls, Virtual Private Networks, anti-virus programs, etc.
- How often computers and programs should be updated and checked. While software can check automatically, it is best to have a manual check done on devices periodically in case a vulnerability is missed.
- Verification and other procedures meant to prevent phishing and scamming.
- How often procedures and priorities should be reviewed and altered. A regular review in an important part of any cybersecurity plan.
- What roles or positions are needed in your company and what the exact responsibilities of those positions are. Also, consider what guidelines and restrictions these positions may have in your company.
- Have plans to make all cybersecurity policies scalable as your business grows.
- Clear plans on how to respond to different types of data breaches, social engineering attacks and internal threats.
This is just the start. Books could be written and have been written about the topic of creating a comprehensive defensive strategy. Consult with professionals, and do your research to determine what else needs to be part of your cybersecurity agenda.
Adapting Your Agenda Over Time
Even more so than many other policy documents, a cybersecurity agenda needs to be a fluid and easily modifiable document, as hackers and cybercriminals change tactics frequently. Don’t think this makes it any less important; it is merely a reflection of your growing business. Your business six months from now will be vastly different from your business today. Your weaknesses and strengths will change.
Adapt your cybersecurity agenda regularly to adapt to this, and don’t be afraid to divert resources. Make sure to listen to the recommendations of your IT professionals in this regard. Contingencies for every common attack are useful, and preparation today for threats that don’t come to fruition might still prove useful against other attacks. You need to block hackers’ every attack. Cybercriminals only need to succeed once.
Once you tailor your cybersecurity agenda, you’ll be able to adjust it as needed. The most important step is to hold a strategy meeting in the first place and learn what you do and do not know. Your resources will help you dictate your plan of action.
Do you have any thoughts as to the protection of your own business? Do you have any plan set already? Please let us know in a comment below.
Author´s Bio: Faith is a cybersecurity and technology blogger for Secure Thoughts, a cybersecurity website that focuses on helping individuals and businesses alike protect themselves from threats to their information.