Data has become key to the success of any business. If you lag in collecting and analyzing data, you may end up with limited insights that will prevent the growth of your company. However, this data revolution has also resulted in cybersecurity concerns. Big brands such as Yahoo, Equifax, Marriott, and Target have all fallen victim to data breaches in recent years.
Hackers realize that business data holds value- and they’re relentless in trying to circumvent your systems to get at it. It’s no longer enough to prevent cybersecurity threats. To remain effective, you need an overall cybersecurity plan that enables your company to stay ahead of business risks.
Creating an effective plan means keeping up with the latest technologies, assessing your business environment, and implementing actionable steps towards risk management.
Common Cybersecurity Risks That Businesses Face
Even before you begin developing a cybersecurity plan, you should be aware of the common risks that your business might face.
A data breach refers to sensitive data ending up in the wrong hands. For example, your customer’s payment information may leak and end up being accessed by hackers.
As useful as cloud technologies are, they’ve increased the risk of data breaches- and your business will need to take appropriate steps towards mitigating such risks.
Malware attacks occur when malicious software is installed and spread across your systems. Such software may limit the functionality of your company infrastructure. For example, ransomware will block access to your system until you pay a “ransom” to the hacker.
If you don’t have appropriate data controls in place, you may end up with altered, deleted, or missing data. Data loss can disrupt your operations and result in financial setbacks.
Phishing is another common cybersecurity threat. Phishing attacks come in the form of malware that is disguised to originate from a trusted source (such as a supervisor’s email attachment or a password request from a colleague).
Strategies For Managing Cybersecurity Risks
As the age-old saying goes prevention is better than cure. Your business should strive to remain on top of cybersecurity threats to prevent financial loss and a damaged reputation.
With a strategic data security plan in place, you can prevent many of these risks from paralyzing company operations.
Start by defining your IT framework
Preventing cybersecurity threats starts with developing an IT strategy. Not all businesses are the same, and some face a particular type of risk more than others. Furthermore, you may have specific technology needs and resources that vary from other businesses.
Developing an IT strategy involves assessing your current technology environment, carrying out an inventory of your assets, and prioritizing the goals of your business.
Perform a risk assessment
You can also prevent many cybersecurity risks by carrying out a thorough risk assessment. Risk assessment involves identifying where your company may be vulnerable to threats- and finding out how serious these threats are. For example, you may determine that your business is exposed to data breaches when migrating to the cloud for the first time.
With a risk assessment, you would then proceed to determine how much damage a possible breach could potentially cause.
Use predictive analytics to monitor the risk environment
Predictive analytics is being widely used to learn from previous events- and to predict the likelihood of future outcomes. Your business can leverage this approach in its data security plans.
Predictive analytics can be used to monitor risks in real time, identify new threats, and develop an effective risk response plan.
Comply with applicable cyber security laws
There are many cybersecurity frameworks in place that recommend or require businesses to comply with specific standards. For example, PCI-DSS applies to payment processing, while HITRUST applies to healthcare cybersecurity and HIPAA compliance. Meeting these frameworks will require you to keep up with the latest technologies.
Have a disaster recovery plan
Disaster recovery may include insurance against financial loss, backing up data in case of malware attacks, and setting up emergency operations to get your system back online as soon as possible.
Actionable steps for preventing data risks from occurring
Staying ahead of business risks involves more than just identifying and preventing those risks. You also need to implement actionable steps that will fall in line with your overall data security plan.
Here are several steps you should keep in mind when developing and adjusting your cybersecurity strategy.
- Install anti-malware programs that can detect and repel malicious attacks
- Encrypt your data to prevent access by unauthorized parties
- Train employees about the importance of data security, and how they can identify phishing attacks
- Use strong passphrases- encourage your employees to avoid using the names of pets, family members, or friends.