This October marks the 15th year of the annual National Cybersecurity Awareness Month initiative to bring attention to cybersecurity. The theme for this year’s campaign is based on the fact that organizational cybersecurity efforts are a shared responsibility, and the efforts needed to keep an organization safe go beyond individual departments within a company. We each have a role to play when it comes to preventing cyber-attacks and safeguarding data, whether that information is yours personally, your employer’s or your client’s.
Addressing the five common mistakes that businesses make when it comes to cybersecurity can help companies identify areas of concerns and create a plan to address all of their cybersecurity needs.
Believing a breach won’t happen to you
No matter your size or industry, cybersecurity threats can happen to any business. The first step in preventing a cyber-attack is to acknowledge that your company is at risk without the necessary protocols in place. What would happen if you woke up to find that all of your company’s data had gone missing? How would you continue to meet your clients’ needs? Would you be able to operate if all your historical data was gone, or would you have to close your doors? Between vendor and sales records, employee data and other sensitive or proprietary information many businesses would simply not be able to operate if their data had gone missing. Data breaches cost organizations an average of $3.5 million last year, and hackers are constantly searching for their next victim. Luckily, the threat of such an attack can be reduced by taking the necessary steps to protect your company’s and client’s information. Working with IT professionals who understand businesses needs and can assess threats to your security infrastructure and assist your organization with the steps to tighten your security a plan and help deter a breach from occurring.
Not educating your employees
Cyber security isn’t the responsibility of one department or person. Preventing cyber-attacks is the responsibility of everyone in a company, and it’s important that all employees are educated. Your employees are often your biggest threat because a cyberattack is often the result of an employee inadvertently clicking on a phishing email. Phishing scams that target individuals and manipulate them into sharing personal information are on the rise. Any individual can fall victim to such attacks if they are not properly taught what to look for and how to respond. Additionally, employees should be educated on ways to keep data safe including how to strengthen their passwords and locking their computer when they walk away from their desk. By implementing training programs and developing a cybersecurity policy, you can significantly minimize the risk of a breach.
Weak or out-of-date software or operating systems
Out-of-date plugins, internet browsers, productivity software and operating systems not only slow down your productivity, they are also a huge risk when it comes to keeping your business safe. Using end-of-life (EOL) software can greatly increase your risk of a breach. If your company is using old operating systems or software applications, you are at a high risk for cyber attacks. Software vendors frequently release updates, or patches, to fix performance bugs and provide the latest security features. Your organization should ensure that employees have automatic updates enabled on all devices and that a patch management plan is in place. Upgrading to the latest tools or platforms and retiring all EOL products can significantly reduce the risk of a security attack. The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) offers detailed tips on software updates.
Not testing your systems
Having frequent penetration testing and vulnerability assessments of your technical infrastructure conducted can help businesses identify weaknesses in systems that need to be remediated to protect your data. Penetration testing is a great way to test your operating systems to determine if you could be susceptible to a breach. This involves an ethical hack, where trained professionals attempt to identify vulnerabilities in your system that a cyber-criminal could exploit. In doing so, you will receive a report of findings that can give you a great deal of insight. If an ethical hacker was able to exploit your data, then someone with the wrong intentions can also gain access to your company’s data. Depending on your organization and business operations, your IT professional may also recommend a web application assessment to identify risks that exist in any cloud based applications your employees use. Based on the results of your assessments, you can see where your organization is vulnerable and develop a remediation plan and defense mechanisms to protect your data.
No outsider’s viewpoint
Having a third-party professional review your existing security policies and protocols can provide the insight needed to make educated and strategic planning steps to keep your organization safe. An IT professional can review your security policies or help you develop and perform vulnerability scans, penetration testing or web application assessments. Even if you have an in-house IT department, hiring an IT company to run third-party assessments and take a look at your security policies can minimize your risk should your company be subjected to a cyber attack.
Hackers are constantly trying to target their next victims and identify weak points in an organization. Companies can take a stand against cyber attacks by understanding best practices and avoiding common mistakes. If you are concerned that your company might be at risk, contact your trusted technology professional. Together, you can strengthen your system, implement good security habits and train your employees on their role in keeping your organization safe. If you have questions or concerns about your security, Warren Averett Technology Group can assist you in identifying and remediating flaws and vulnerabilities in your system. We can safeguard your data so that your clients, employees and vendors can have confidence that their information is secure. If you have questions about our services, click here to learn more.