Securing networks and private data is a top priority for organizations of every size in Alberta, yet there should still be major concerns with relying on technology alone.
The assumption that better digital infrastructure will prevent malicious attacks can put your business at risk.
Without the right practices, even the best digital defences don’t stand a chance.
What Is a Cybersecurity Strategy?
A cybersecurity strategy is a comprehensive plan for protecting a company’s data. It includes protecting proprietary information, customer and patient data, and preventing cyberattacks.
A cybersecurity strategy is more than just technology – it is policies, procedures, training, and even company culture. Most cybersecurity strategies should include:
- Email security: Sophisticated technology and training that prevents most spam emails from getting through and helps employees identify the ones that do.
- Disaster recovery: Solutions that help companies store data offsite in secure, local cloud hosting so that it can be easily recovered in case of a catastrophic event.
- Asset management: A set of policies and actions designed to keep all assets secure, including regular patching and updating software licenses.
- Backup management: Solutions to ensure that data is automatically backed up on a regular basis to ensure business continuity in case of a server failure or cyberattack.
Vulnerabilities always exist.
Never assume that your security strategy is impermeable to malware and phishing attempts.
Furthermore, if you are convinced that IT professionals are the only ones within your organization that are responsible for cybersecurity, your networks are already at risk.
Vulnerabilities are always present, and it is essential that your cybersecurity plan of action is proactive rather than reactive. Having the right information is the first step in tackling the challenges of building a robust cybersecurity strategy.
The only assumption you should make is that you’re never completely free of risk. This is the only assumption that will help protect your business from data theft and other cyber threats.
Assumptions Can Damage Your Cybersecurity Strategy
There is one thing more harmful to your cybersecurity strategy than anything else: the assumption that your files and data are secure.
When you assume that the plan you implemented last year or last month is still the perfect strategy for your IT infrastructure, you tend to relax.
The assumption that all will prevent you from remaining cautious and vigilant; prevents you from asking questions.
You stop considering that any risk exists at all.
Rather than let a failed cybersecurity strategy go unnoticed, it is time to be mindful of how assumptions can damage your digital infrastructure.
Disastrous outcomes can occur as a result of assuming that your organization is secured against cyber threats.
From the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to local security requirements, if you fail to remain constantly vigilant and update your security measures to remain compliant, your organization could potentially be fined.
This can result in public distrust of your organization because critical data is not being properly protected.
Assumptions can lead you to believe that your IT systems are up to date. Target assumed they were secure.
Assumptions are costly.
For example, Colonial Pipeline paid a $4.4 million dollar ransom to restore the fuel supply to the Northeast U.S. The Experian cyberattack has cost the company more than CDN$22.5 million.
Hackers are excellent at exploiting weaknesses, and the assumption that your systems are secure can lead to a cybersecurity strategy with many holes.
Avoiding these gaps in security can be avoided only with constant vigilance, testing, updates, and monitoring.
What if your employees were to assume that your business’s current security system was rock solid?
Without proper education, such an assumption can lead to unfounded confidence in business practices.
- Emails could be opened without any consideration for potential phishing attacks.
- Transactions could be completed over insecure networks.
- A casual business encounter could result in an exchange of the information a hacker needs to compromise your entire organization.
Educating staff is crucial to maintaining a secure network, as well as is practicing caution, to defend against hacking attempts.
Cyberattacks Disrupt Business
A ransomware attack can hinder operations for several days, and the affected business may sustain further financial losses because of government fines and consumer settlements.
Establishing an effective cybersecurity strategy starts with an understanding that every small business is at significant risk.
Implementing a solution for cybersecurity before disaster strikes is crucial.
With half of the small businesses shutting their doors in the six months after a cyberattack, a cybersecurity strategy is a serious and necessary investment.
Improving cybersecurity must be an industry-wide effort.
Interestingly, Canadian restaurants are now being offered security assessments as part of an industry-wide initiative. Restaurants are hot targets for cyberattacks because of the sheer amount of consumer credit card information that is stored.
Although these security assessments only highlight the risks and do not address a solution without additional cost, it is a step in the right direction.
Awareness of the problem and the depth of security risks will help small businesses prioritize cybersecurity appropriately.
Education and training are part of the solution.
Regardless of business size or industry, internal threats continue to be a primary challenge.
Employees could be inadvertently opening phishing emails, using unsecured devices remotely to access private networks or using their credentials maliciously.
Human error results in the highest number of cybersecurity breaches, yet few small businesses address the lack of training that could minimize, if not eliminate, these risks.
Best cybersecurity practices stem from possessing the available information, and cybersecurity organizations are recognizing that access to cybersecurity strategies is beneficial to the entire economy.
Small businesses must take action to protect themselves from security breaches and malicious attacks; otherwise, they could lose everything.
Small businesses may be a prime target, but there is no reason to be defenceless.
5 Tips on Building a Better Cybersecurity Strategy
Implement the zero-trust model
Every organization should begin with a zero-trust model.
What is zero-trust?
It is the assumption that none of your networks, internal or external, are secure.
This demands a proactive approach that encourages consistent monitoring and constant improvement.
Zero-trust also demands that you avoid putting trust in network users.
As drastic as it sounds, best practice means never sharing passwords, never giving people access to more of your company information than it is necessary to do their jobs, and carefully vetting third-party vendors.
Use multifactor authentication whenever possible and implement emerging technology, such as behavioural analytics.
This detects network patterns and monitors user activity to fight insider threats, whether they are a result of innocent mistakes that can be remedied or are malicious activities that need to be checked.
Know what’s worth protecting.
Businesses often make the mistake of implementing technology that is not useful to their unique IT needs.
Before you jump at the chance to install the latest cybersecurity update, identify your assets, the risks specific to your organization, and your main vulnerabilities.
Once you’ve measured performance and what needs to be strengthened, you can select the right tools and get the best return on your investments.
For example, a dental practice in Alberta is required to have specific protections in place for patient data that other organizations may not be required to have.
Focus on more than reactivity.
Prevention is a critical part of any cybersecurity strategy, and predictive analysis has come incredibly far in the proactive identification of threats.
Big data offers businesses the opportunity to understand where improvements can be made based on automated processes and large sets of expansive cybersecurity information.
Technological advancements are also changing how businesses can manage risk.
However, no defence is foolproof. It’s a matter of when, not if, a cyberattack will occur, and your business needs a response strategy.
Machine learning utilizes algorithms to make predictions based on real-time communications and transactions, allowing you to formulate a response to potential threats.
Instill a culture of security fundamentals.
The reality is, no cybersecurity technology can protect your business from careless staff.
Employees are often one of the biggest vulnerabilities in an organization, and the only way to remedy this weak link is to provide education and consistent training.
Tool integration is critical to a cybersecurity strategy, but only if employees understand why policies are important and how to use the tools available.
Awareness of cybersecurity threats and precautionary practices within your organization is the best compliment to emerging technology.
A comprehensive cybersecurity strategy necessitates a true understanding of preventative measures, along with the technological tools that are appropriate for your business needs.
Cybersecurity does call for constant updates as threats change; yet, relying on emerging technology alone will leave enormous vulnerabilities.
Best practices that have been the cybersecurity norm, such as employee education and the zero-trust model, should remain a considerable piece of every cybersecurity strategy.
When human error is always a factor, technology must have a human partner.
Considering recent global concerns now is the time to address your own preventative cybersecurity measures.
Develop a Proactive Approach to Compliance and Cybersecurity
When you wait for network processes to slow down or for something to go wrong with your IT infrastructure before you invest in upgrades, you are forced into a costly cycle of repairs that prevents you from investing in up-to-date cybersecurity safeguards and getting ahead.
When you work with an MSP, they constantly monitor the state of your infrastructure and network, heading off issues and replacing equipment before it stops your business from operating.
The difference between proactive IT and reactive IT can be measured in thousands of dollars. Act now to protect your business.
General Practices for Becoming a Cybersecure Organization
No matter what industry you are in, from medical and dental to law and construction, cybersecurity should be an essential part of your business strategy.
These general practices should be incorporated into your organization.
Looking for a way to make passwords that are easy to remember but are not breakable?
- Try a phrase or sentence that you’ll remember that is at least 12 or more characters long.
- To really strengthen your protection, add multifactor authentication.
- And remember to keep your passwords secure.
A password just isn’t enough anymore.
MFA makes it virtually impossible for someone to hack into a user’s devices, the network, or a database.
It is much more cost-effective and efficient to have replication and cloud backup services, rather than paying a ransom and working to decrypt infected files.
Create an effective data disaster recovery plan with our guide for creating a backup and disaster recovery plan.
Organizations that postpone patching or don’t have a team dedicated to keeping their applications and operating systems up to date risk ignoring vulnerabilities that invite hackers.
Being proactive can save you a lot – in terms of money, time, and customers.
But you can’t be expected to know about every new threat. That’s why layers of security and monitoring, managed with the support of a strong IT security partner, are essential.
The ITeam understands the IT security issues facing businesses in Canada. We are committed to helping Calgary- and Alberta-based businesses develop proactive IT strategies that keep them competitive. Contact us to learn more.
We are the local source for comprehensive IT services, as well as IT products, supplies, and support. Contact us for a free consultation.