Check out this blog from ScotlandIS member, Celerity, discussing the processes to put in place to ensure your business is cyber secure.
As our reliance on technology and data grows by the day, the risk of cyber crime grows with it.
There is no doubt that technology has helped businesses to become more efficient, make better decisions, and share information quicker, however with the worlds increasing digitisation our personal and professional lives have never been more vulnerable. Whether they are stealing and selling personal data or attempting to cause widespread disruption to critical business infrastructure using ransomware, cyber criminals cause havoc to individuals, businesses, and society as a whole and they are constantly and indiscriminately trying to seek out their next victim. UK government research showed that in 2022, 39% of UK businesses had identified a cyber attack, with 31% of businesses estimating that they were attacked at least once per week.
Cyber security has become absolutely crucial for organisations. A breach can result in the theft of sensitive business data and intellectual property, severe financial consequences, cause widespread disruption to critical operations, and erode trust and confidence to the point that many businesses cannot fully recover. In fact, according to research by IBM the average cost of a data breach is now $4.35 million.
Ways to stay cyber secure
The best way to stay cyber secure is to implement proactive measures that are designed to protect a business by securing any data or assets. These can include:
1. Conduct a risk assessment
Risk assessments are an important first step when improving a cyber security strategy. Security teams should conduct a comprehensive assessment of a business’ entire IT infrastructure, in the process identifying any weaknesses and prioritising these areas for improvement.
Tools such as simulated cyber attacks can be invaluable here, as they can highlight any gaps in a security posture by using advanced, real world techniques that cyber criminals will seek to exploit and use as leverage.
2. Develop a cyber security policy
The risk assessment should lead to the development of a security policy, that provides guidelines, measures and protocols that an organisation should adhere to in order to protect against cyber threats. The policy should include guidelines for password practices and management, data encryption policies, and access controls, as well as any other key security practices.
3. Implement security measures
Including anti-virus and anti malware endpoint protection, firewalls, detection systems, and regular patching, organisations need to implement effective security measures in order to protect against cyber crime.
4. Conduct regular audits
By conducting regular security audits, companies are able to proactively stay on top of their requirements and keep up to date with the latest threats and vulnerabilities, before they can be exploited.
Why businesses should aim to be cyber resilient
So, in short, the best way to stay secure is to always be proactive and to take a layered approach. This is also important when something goes wrong. The techniques that criminals use to attack a business are always evolving, constantly searching for new ways to exploit system weaknesses and infiltrate networks. All it takes is one mistake or gap, and they can break in.
On average it takes 277 days to identify and contain a network breach. On top of that, if threat actors are able to deploy malware to IT infrastructure it can wreak havoc on critical business operations – in fact the average successful ransomware attack causes 22 days of downtime, resulting in frustrated customers, paralysed staff, and ultimately lost business.
To be blunt, it isn’t enough to simply be secure. A much more effective approach is to aim to become cyber resilient. Cyber resilience goes beyond traditional cyber security best practices, meaning that not only is an organisation able to defend against threats, but it is also able to quickly adapt, respond, and recover from them, all while continuing to operate as smoothly as possible in order to minimise their impact.
An effective cyber resilience plan is robust. It involves having effective backup systems such as immutable storage, contingency plans, and prepared staff in place. Resilience also revolves around a culture of continuous improvement, regularly assessing the risks and adjusting security measures and incident response plans accordingly. By proactively working to minimise the impact of cyber-attacks, organisations can maintain the trust of their customers and stakeholders, and ensure that critical day to day operations continue to function, while assisting in regulation compliance efforts.
How your organisation can achieve effective cyber resilience
Building on the earlier security steps, there are a number of methods that organisations can employ to shift themselves from cyber secure to cyber resilient.
1. Develop a cyber resilience strategy
Just like how security needs a strategy in place, so does resilience. This strategy should be designed in line with the organisation’s core objectives and risk appetite, encompassing a risk assessment alongside policies and procedures that address potential cyber incidents.
2. Have a reliable disaster recovery plan
Time is money. In the event of a cyber-attack, it is vital that businesses are able to quickly and reliably restore their IT systems. Backups prevent data loss and provide a means of recovering important information needed for operations, minimising downtime and enabling business continuity.
Immutable storage, for example, is a particularly effective backup tool, storing data so that it cannot be modified or altered once it is written. Often used for long-term data retention, compliance, and data archiving, immutable storage ensures data integrity and prevents accidental or malicious modification of information. It is particularly useful for data that needs to be preserved in its original state, such as legal or regulatory requirements, financial records, and healthcare information.
By staying operational during a cyber incident companies can also minimise the damage to their reputation, demonstrating their commitment to protecting their customers and retaining their trust. When choosing a backup solution, organisations need to consider their specific needs, such as the amount of data that needs to be stored, the level of security required, and the available budget. Backups should also be tested regularly to ensure their reliability – a failed backup can be disastrous.
3. Employee Training
83% of cyber-attacks in the UK in 2022 involved phishing (where criminals will attempt to deceive victims into providing information or access) as the initial threat vector. Employees can be one of the weakest links in an organisation’s cyber security defences, and while it is essential that staff are trained to identify threats and handle sensitive data, they must also understand how to respond in the event of a breach.
4. Regularly assess your resilience strategy
By regularly reviewing and assessing the cyber resilience strategy IT teams are able to ensure that it remains effective in addressing the company’s security and recovery needs. Incorporating a culture of continuous improvement enables organisations to adapt to any change in requirements, whether these are new threats, new technologies, or new compliance regulations.
Read the ESG White Paper: Storage’s Role in Addressing the Challenges of Ensuring Cyber Resilience to learn about storage’s role in cyber resiliency, and why you need to switch your focus from prevention to preparation.
Read more from Celerity.