dealing with cybersecurity threats

4 best practices for dealing with cyber threats

Did you know that the World Economic Forum believes that a large-scale cybersecurity breach is one of the five most serious risks facing the world today?

In the latest EY Global Information Security Survey report entitled “Cybersecurity Regained: Preparing to Face Cyber Attacks,” four best practices were discussed: confronting cyber threats, understanding the landscape, fighting back, and responding to an attack.

Here’s what we learned from the report and from over 1200 survey respondents when it comes to developing a complete cyber security strategy.

Confronting cyber threats

In order to fight your enemy, you must first know your enemy. In the past, access to data and proprietary information was contained on-premise inside of company-owned servers and computers with strict login access. Today it’s all about the cloud and the Internet of Things.

When considering a plan for IoT cybersecurity, you really have to cast a wide net. Think of all the ways your employees access sensitive data…from desktops, laptops, company-owned mobile devices, personal mobile devices, etc. What about freelancers and outsourced teams? How secure are their networks? You need to get a clear bird’s eye view of your organization’s communication hierarchy and every single tentacle that touches it if you want to be prepared for today’s level of cyber-criminal sophistication.

As EY Global Advisory Cybersecurity Leader Paul van Kessel put it, “This explosion of connectivity fueled by the growth of the Internet of Things and the ever-larger digital footprint of many organizations have all introduced new vulnerabilities for attackers to exploit.”

Understanding the landscape

Does your organization actually know what types of threats you are facing when it comes to hackers? There are basically three types of attacks: common, advanced, and emerging.

Common attacks are the least sophisticated of the three and can include anything from a disgruntled employee deleting or copying sensitive company data to a simple email phishing scam that loads a virus onto the company server.

Advanced attacks utilize custom malware to take over or shut down a company’s website or operating system. For example, last year, the “WannaCry” ransomware attack affected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries. The malware attacks a company’s server, encrypts the files so they can no longer be accessed, and then demands payment.

Emerging attacks are CIA-territory. They come from organized crime groups, the highest level cyber terrorists and industrial espionage teams. The focus is on vulnerabilities in the latest technologies, especially when it comes to the Internet of Things.

There are several cybersecurity websites that go into much more detail about the overall security threat landscape, including Infosecurity Magazine, Tripwire’s State of Security, and Dark Reading. It’s a good idea to stay up-to-date with all of these sites and others when planning your overall cyber strategy.

Fighting back

Two important steps in fighting back against cybercrime is focusing on your employees and having a corporate-wide strategy. All employee laptops should be equipped with the latest antivirus software, intruder detection and protection systems (IDS and IPS). It’s important to have a solid cyber security training program for all of your staff and incorporate security as part of your company’s mission statement in order to keep everyone vigilant. As it states in the EY report, “Cybersecurity is not the sole responsibility of the IT department; it is the responsibility of every employee and even of all the people in the ecosystem of the organization.”

Other ways to combat hackers include having set processes in place for when attacks do happen, (i.e. as part of an overall disaster recovery program) and designating a Security Operations Center (SOC) within your organization to handle all things related to security and cyber threats. You may even want to consider bringing in a professional cybersecurity consultant with the best cybersecurity certifications as well.

Also, ample funding for security measures should always be included as part of your organization’s annual budget

Responding to an attack

In this final section of the EY report, a six-pronged cyber breach response plan is proposed. It focuses on cybersecurity, business continuity planning, compliance, insurance, public relations, and litigation.

Having a solid cybersecurity plan in place will ensure that your organization survives the initial attack. Then you must be able to carry on business as usual during the interim. When it comes to compliance, how and when should you notify the proper authorities of the breach? Does your company’s umbrella insurance policy cover all the expenses associated with a cyber-attack? What will news of the attack do to your company’s reputation and how will your PR team handle it? Finally, consider what types of litigation could arise as a result of the overall breach and how will you respond.

Conclusion

With cybersecurity breaches estimated to cost more than $6 trillion by 2021 (according to Cybersecurity Venture’s Cybercrime Report 2017), organizations have to protect themselves in every way possible. By knowing the nature of the threats, having a solid plan in place, and educating every single employee on the importance of cyber security, companies can be better prepared and better protected.

And if the recent rise in cybersecurity stocks tells us anything, it’s that more sophisticated attacks are no longer a question of “if,” but “when.”