No matter how effective your cybersecurity is when first implemented, it isn’t something you can just “set up and forget”.
Your cybersecurity processes and policies need to evolve to suit an ever changing cyber landscape, which comes with as many new risks as it does opportunities. If your business is going to be able to compete in an increasingly digital world, it needs to be able to adapt to meet emerging cyber threats.
This means that what kept your company safe yesterday might not work as well today. If you don’t regularly review the tools, processes and policies integral to your business cybersecurity, they will become obsolete and put your organisation at risk.
But cybersecurity can be difficult to quantify. Unless you’ve suffered a breach already and can pinpoint why it happened, it can be difficult to know which aspects of your cybersecurity might need improvement.
Here are five things you should consider in your review.
Is your customer data being used effectively?
Juggling vast quantities of data can get out of hand. It’s easy to miss vital security checks when they need to be applied to the amount of information a business requires.
One of the easiest ways to ensure that someone can’t get their hands on your data is simply to destroy it. Obviously not if you still use that data. But combing through the records you’ve kept and securely deleting anything you don’t need any more can take a lot of weight off your shoulders. If you don’t have any use for it, there’s no point wasting your time and energy protecting it.
This is what compliance standards such as GDPR are designed to establish. If you’re on top of your compliance, the way you process your data should be streamlined and efficient, with only the information necessary to your organisation’s needs taking up space in your infrastructure. But it’s worth double checking every so often that you aren’t wasting effort on extraneous data.
Is the software protecting your information up-to-date?
Far too many organisations have been embarrassed by how easily their data was compromised. All the money and resources of Capital One, Uber and British Airways, to name just a few, couldn’t do anything to stop someone taking advantage of an easy back door that was overlooked.
Just last week, it was reported that a database of 419 million Facebook records were found on a completely unsecured server. This could have exposed affected users’ phone numbers, gender and location to cybercriminals, leaving them vulnerable to spam calls, SIM-swap attacks and identity theft.
In each of these high profile cases, it was taken for granted that the basics were covered, that software was patched and functioning on all the necessary hardware, when that simply wasn’t the case.
Are your internal cybersecurity policies effective – and are they being followed?
First review the internal rules you have put in place regarding cybersecurity. Make sure they do the job they are supposed to do. Do they actually protect your company, or do they just exhaust your staff? Would it be more effective, for instance, to implement multi-factor authentication than to force your employees to remember increasingly complex passwords?
Secondly, make sure that these policies are being properly followed. You could lose the trust of your customers if they find out you never bothered to check that the people handling their data were doing so with due diligence. There are ways to introduce cybersecurity procedures that aren’t just a hassle for staff if you get creative with the way you choose to implement them.
The best thing you can do for your cybersecurity is to integrate refined, comprehensive policies into the culture of your business.
Are your staff knowledgeable about cybersecurity?
There is a reason that phishing attacks are still one of the most successful ways criminals get their hands on your data. Social engineering takes advantage of people, tricking them into simply handing over sensitive information or even money to criminals.
As recently as last week, criminals conned an energy company into transferring them €220,000 by using AI to impersonate the CEO’s voice in a phone call. The most advanced lock in the world won’t do you any good if someone can simply convince you to hand over the keys.
The most important thing you can do to keep your company safe is to train your staff in proper cybersecurity protocols. Make sure they know what information is sensitive and who is allowed access to it. Make sure that they are up to date with safe web practices and know how to spot malicious or fraudulent communications.
Ultimately, make sure that they understand why your cybersecurity polices are in place so it doesn’t feel like an inconvenience to follow them.
How well can you see when the cyber landscape changes?
New cyberattacks do not come with an advance warning. If your policy is to review your cybersecurity processes every six months, but a critical threat emerges in three, you are vulnerable for three months. This is more than enough time for a cybercriminal to worm their way into your system and cause some serious damage.
New threats can emerge at any time. Zero day exploits, when a weakness is taken advantage of on the same day it is discovered, happen all too frequently. Short of being in a perpetual state of review, there is little you can do to match that pace. It is absurd to expect anyone to manually monitor an organisation’s cybersecurity all the time.
Instead, invest in a live dashboard that automatically monitors activity within your business as well as trends in the digital landscape so you can take a proactive approach to your cybersecurity. By showing changes in the cyber environment in real time, this allows you to adapt as new threats emerge, rather than reacting to them only after they’ve started causing damage.