Keeping Your Business Safe: The Cybersecurity Basics You Need to Know

Written by Paul Perry, FHFMA, CISM, CITP, CPA on April 3, 2019

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The internet is a curious thing. In today’s environment, internet access is no longer a luxury for day-to-day personal and business operations. It’s a necessity. We use the internet to pay our bills, do our shopping, keep up with our friends and family, stay informed about current events and much more, and yet, most Americans don’t trust that their information is safe and secure on the internet.

In this paradoxical world in which the internet is necessary, yet treacherous, businesses have a high responsibility to ensure security. How does this duplicitous situation impact your responsibility for your business’s data and the data it keeps about others? It demands thoughtful protection through cybersecurity.

Click here to watch a video that recaps the cybersecurity basics you need to know. 

If you’re just beginning to consider how your business should respond to the changing technological environment and how you should introduce cybersecurity to your operations—or if you are wondering how you can determine if your current precautionary measures are effective enough to actually protect your business in the event of a cyber attack—the task can be daunting. Below, I’ve outlined three ways that you can ensure your business’s cybersecurity measures and procedures are keeping your business safe.

Educate your Employees about Cybersecurity

It’s important to start by formulating information security (or cybersecurity) policies and procedures that are the best fit for your specific company. Consider your risks, weaknesses and where your business might be most susceptible to an attack, and use that information to formulate preventative best practices for your team. Formulate protocol for what your employees should look for and be aware of, and revisit your policies frequently. Just as technology evolves, so does cyber crime, and your preventative measures and education should keep up with it.

Creating employee materials and polices concerning cybersecurity is important, but on their own, written regulations may not be effective enough to fully equip your team. Also consider hosting interactive training events that allow team members to engage, ask questions and learn free from other distractions. An interactive environment may allow your team to grasp a fuller understanding of the gravity of cybersecurity and their role in protecting your company.

Investing in employee cybersecurity education may cost more in the short-term, but if your employees are properly informed, their training could save you much more in the long term by preventing expensive cyber attacks. Employee education is often one of the top security measures cyber liability insurance policies require.

Enable Verification Tools to Enhance Cybersecurity Measures

Outside hackers pose a significant threat to businesses, so it’s important to implement measures to keep unwanted visitors out of your technological systems. Verification tools are a particularly effective solution that can help to protect your internal systems from external threats.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is one of the simplest ways to confirm that employees or customers are who they say they are. You may have even experienced MFA yourself through a requirement to register a phone or alternative device with a system during the login process. In MFA, when a user logs in from a computer, a code will be sent to the secondary device. The user must have access to that secondary device and then input the code on the primary device.

Single Sign-On (SSO) is another useful form of verification. This means if a user or employee has been granted access to a series of programs, then he or she uses just one username and password to log in to all of these programs within the series at once. The user will then be able to browse all of the applications or programs without having to log in again. This can decrease the risk of an employee providing login credentials to a phisher behind falsely fabricated login pages because your employees know that they only need to log in to their programs once at the beginning of the workday.

These are two verification/authentication tools that can enhance your current password parameters that should follow standard setting frameworks (COBIT or NIST).

Work with a Cybersecurity Expert

Even if your company’s in-house IT team or technology experts are equipped and informed about how to protect your company through cybersecurity, there is still immense value to be gained by contracting a neutral cybersecurity advisor to evaluate your systems or offer up-to-date, industry-specific best practices for implementation.

These types of cybersecurity professionals are able to perform vulnerability management testing (external penetration or internal vulnerability scanning) and cyber and risk assessments so that you can make informed decisions about how to improve the areas in which your security may be the weakest. If you don’t have an objective opinion about your system’s security, it can be hard to implement effective solutions that will truly keep your business protected from a cyber attack.

It’s important to find an advisor who as the right experience to advise your company well. If you are a store dealing with thousands of clients’ data, then find an expert who is used to dealing with public-facing companies. If you’re trusted to deal with a lot of highly confidential data, then ensure you bring in someone who understands privacy law and how that data should be stored and used. When it comes to protecting data for your business, employees and clients, it’s a good idea to have guidance from a professional.

Moving Forward with Your Company’s Cybersecurity

Just as technology and the internet are no longer optional for businesses, neither is cybersecurity. Knowing what your current situation is, how you can improve, what policies to implement and how to select the right advisor are crucial ingredients to the beginning of a successful cybersecurity protection plan for your business. But, that’s just the foundation. Your cybersecurity plan should always be growing, evolving and anticipating the future in order to be effective.

For more cybersecurity resources, information about protecting your company from a cyber attack and to learn how your company can stay in compliance and protected, contact Warren Averett’s professionals.

 

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