Why Cybersecurity is More than an IT Issue
Every day, more and more functions of our businesses are moving online. With data stored in the cloud, meetings held virtually, and full networks connected to the internet, companies are faced with new threats that many organizations are still learning to deal with. Cybersecurity measures aren’t always in place when they need to be, and ransomware, phishing emails, and increasingly sophisticated hackers pose new challenges to companies that take more than an IT team to overcome.
Think of all the information you have stored in a cloud- or network-based system. From financial information to intellectual property, employee details – even information entrusted to you by third party partners – when it’s connected, it’s at risk of corruption. As small business owners, information and cybersecurity is another area where we practice risk management. Some companies fall prey to the false “No one will bother us – we’re just the little guys,” pretense, assuming that the size of their businesses protects them from impending threats. However, according to an article published by Northcentral University’s Insights and Stories blog, nearly 43 percent of cyber attacks target small businesses. Of those small businesses facing cyber attacks, 60 percent of them can’t afford cost of the damage and end up closing their doors. Knowing how to manage the risk posed to your information systems can help you stay ahead of these treats.
Interestingly (and to your benefit) most breaches of information are caused by shortfalls in protection – not by new hacker practices. With a proactive approach, you can protect your company from malicious cyber interactions. Organizations who are successful in keeping their information locked down are those who have a workforce engaged in the importance and practice of tight information management and stringent security processes and safeguards. By creating a management system that allows you to monitor both external forces and internal practices related to your information, you and your team can keep your company’s assets closely guarded and safe from the growing list of threats.
As we all take a close look at best practices and programs to protect your company’s information, it’s imperative to prepare your entire team – not just your IT group – to handle the added responsibility of a connected business.
It’s good business practice to constantly monitor your systems and to consistently work to make improvement whenever and where ever necessary. This holds true to information and cybersecurity. Keep a steady eye on your systems and operational protocols, and make notes when a potential threat appears. If you identify weak points, address them promptly.
It is likely that your entire team works with your network in some way. Encourage open communication for any member of your team to come forward with ideas of how to keep the information they work with safe.
Continuous Monitoring and Access
Your team is connected by more than a hard-wired desk-top. Our world is driven by IoT devices and it’s nearly guaranteed that your team is using mobile, tablet, and other smart tools to complete their work efficiently and with ease, where ever they are. Cybersecurity and IT giant Cisco published research estimating that nearly 27.1 billion devices across the globe will be connected by 2021.
Conducting vulnerability assessments and requiring safeguards to be implemented and followed on all devices used by your team will take time, patience, and a lot of encouragement. While your IT team will drive the process, the engagement of your workforce as a whole is what will make this tactic to information and cybersecurity impactful for your business. Education is key, and consistent follow-up to ensure users are following protocol is a step you can’t skip.
Training and Thought Leadership
The security of your cyber activity and information will require more than well-developed programs and safeguards. It’s not a simple matter of installation and monitoring, but a full-fledged control process that should be approached with the same level of involvement as new production methods or system workflows.
Your IT team will undoubtedly drive your information and cybersecurity program, but the engagement of your team is what will make it effective. Turn your IT group into educators, allowing them to use their expertise to develop programs to address the importance and function of the new policies they are working to implement. Allow them to talk about the risk associated with cyber threats and give them the autonomy needed to be impactful in their work.
Help Desk and Connectivity Support
As you encourage your team to be engaged, it’s important to offer them the tools they will need to follow your newly-implemented or improved practices. Allowing open help-desk availability or providing contact information to network administrators can help ease the “us vs. them” mentality that can sometimes occur between IT groups and the rest of your team. It will feel less like IT is locking things down, and more like the group is helpfully protecting the hard work your team is putting forth.
Compliance and Certification
The international research and advisory firm, Gartner, Inc. published a study in early 2017 that projected worldwide cybersecurity spending to top $96.3 billion by the end of 2018. One way companies are making investments in their information and cybersecurity is by following the process to become certified against standards set forth by organizations like ISO.
Much like the other ISO standards, the new ISO 27001 requirements help keep information assets secure through an information security management system (ISMS). The system will require a full assessment of your existing information and cybersecurity system, the development of new processes and procedures to protect against attacks, rigid documentation and records of your practices, and an audit by a third party to ensure compliance. Achieving ISO certification for information and cybersecurity systems not only sets you up for the highest level of protection against threats, but also shows proof to your customers that you take the protection of your information, and theirs, very seriously.
Information and cybersecurity is so much more than password protection and IT monitoring. It requires a combination of quality checks, constant vulnerability assessments, physical protection measures, and, most importantly, team work. Set requirements that safeguard your information and be diligent in your follow through. Collectively, you can prepare for any threat that may loom in cyberspace.