Where Do You Start With A Cybersecurity Program?
The past few months of cyberattacks have led to many organizations putting an increased emphasis on their cybersecurity programs. In fact, cybersecurity spending is expected to surpass $150 billion in 2021, with large increases in the areas of cloud security and data security. There are a few basic steps that your organization can take in order to better prepare and strengthen your cybersecurity program.
Analyze What Assets Your Organization Needs to Protect
Before you can even begin to establish a foundation for your cybersecurity program, you need to understand exactly what you have that needs to be protected. This requires an inventory of the data that your company has, which can be assisted with creating a list of questions. What data do you have? Where is it stored? How long has it been stored? Do you still need it? All of these questions and more help to gain a better understanding of what steps to take to protect that data. Additionally, the last year has seen a large increase in use of cloud infrastructure for organizations, and as such the cloud should receive greater emphasis in the process of data protection.
A large issue with data that has gone overlooked is “data hoarding.” Similar to how people hoard things in their homes, data hoarding is the idea of holding onto unnecessary data for too long. This practice adds another level of risk to a business or individuals if it falls into the wrong hands. For example, in the case of a data breach, criminals attacking a business that hoards data have access to much more potentially private information that they can then use to blackmail the business and its clients. So, data hoarding needs to be prevented in order to keep risk as low as possible for a business. The general rule for keeping original documents is about seven years, so quickly disposing of unneeded documents after that time is essential. Collecting only what is needed and disposing of information that is no longer needed is key in preventing data hoarding from happening.
Know What Is Required
In the wake of President Biden’s executive order, there is going to be a growing number of laws concerning cybersecurity standards and practices. As such, your business may need to change its cybersecurity practices to fall in line with these laws. All states currently have breach laws that outline the requirements for businesses in the case of a data breach, and it is the responsibility of businesses to adhere to these laws. As well, there is a scenario in which officers and directors can be held personally liable for data breaches within their companies, so it is imperative that your business understand the legal ramifications of your cybersecurity practices.
Monitor Your Business’ Risk
Ultimately, to create an effective cybersecurity program, it is essential to understand the risks that your business faces. There are several things that should be done to properly diagnose your level of risk. First, you need to look at your business’ suppliers to understand what kinds of risks present themselves through those suppliers. For example, during last year’s massive SolarWinds hack, many other companies such as Microsoft and Intel also fell victim, which meant that those companies’ clients were also put at risk. So, understanding your software suppliers is essential in the process.
You also need to conduct testing to understand the weaknesses currently in the system. There are a few different types of tests that your business should consider conducting. If you have begun integration with the cloud, you need to perform assessments on that integration to find out where there is exposed data, where there are vulnerabilities, etc. Luckily, many cloud service providers have these assessments as a built-in service tool, making this job much easier. Additionally, penetration testing is essential to diagnosing the security status of your system. These tests are designed to simulate cyberattacks, which in turn will expose the underlying security flaws in the system. This requires your business to be transparent, setting out security policies ahead of time and not trying to cover up any known weaknesses. Another process that should be undertaken is threat hunting, in which you explore your network for undetected threats. Try to find threats that antivirus may miss and act to get these threats out of your system.
Assess and Manage Your Business’ Risk
After monitoring your business’ risk, you need to figure out how to prioritize combatting these risks. This will help your business determine how much to budget from the IT budget for cybersecurity programs. On average, most businesses spend around 15% of their IT budget on cybersecurity, but this percentage can vary for multiple reasons. Your industry, company size, and potential risk all need to play factors in budgeting as they decide how much risk your company will face. Planning for recurring costs is also essential, as cybersecurity is something that your business needs to plan for year after year.
Corporate Information Technologies provides small to mid-market organizations with expert I.T. services including compliance assessment, cybersecurity penetration tests, and comprehensive business continuity planning services. Corporate Information Technologies can help organizations, quantify, create, refine, and mitigate the risks presented by business threatening disasters in whatever form they may be disguised.
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Written by Michael Honrine