Cyberattacks are on the rise. Though today’s technology is better at securing sensitive data, hackers have also gotten better at penetrating systems to steal that data. Such attacks can damage an organization’s reputation, security, data and the financial impacts can be disastrous.
What is a cyberattack?
A cyberattack, according to the cybersecurity company Imperva, is an attempt by a malicious actor to gain access to, steal data from, or damage computers, networks or other computing systems. A cyberattack can be performed from anywhere by one or more people using various tactics.
Why prepare for a cyberattack?
Failing to prepare for a cyberattack is expensive. Imperva estimates the average cost of a data breach in the U.S. to be $3.8 million and ransomware alone costs U.S. businesses $20 billion per year.
Consider your compliance obligations by protecting your data and people to comply with ever-changing laws and regulations.
Common cybersecurity threats
Common threats to organizations include:
- Unauthorized access — A malicious actor, malware or an employee error can result in unauthorized access of your data.
- Misuse of information by authorized users — An insider may misuse information by altering, deleting or using it without authorization.
- Data leaks — Threat actors or misconfigurations and unpatched systems may cause personally identifiable information or other sensitive data to be leaked.
- Loss of data — Poorly configured replication and backup processes may lead to data loss or accidental deletion.
- Service disruptions — Downtime is a denial of service attack, which bombards a website with automated requests so legitimate users can’t get through.
- Ransomware - A type of malicious software designed to block computer or system access until a sum of money is paid.
- Social Engineering - The use of deception to manipulate individuals to gain access to sensitive information or systems.
How to prepare for a cyber threat
Cybersecurity risk management is about prioritizing threats and creating action plans to eliminate or minimize them. Cybersecurity risk management ensures the most critical threats are handled in a timely manner.
Assess your risks
Start by identifying, analyzing and evaluating your potential cyber threats. This will require reviewing your entire IT infrastructure to identify possible threats from:
- Vulnerabilities within your systems
- People, processes and technologies
- Cyberattacks (internal and external)
Multi-factor authentication and passwords
Back up your data
One of the most basic measures you can take is to back up your data regularly. How often depends on your organization, the amount of critical data that you typically collect over the course of a business day or week, and what it would mean to you if that data were to be breached, lost or stolen.
Limit employee access
Train your employees
Lastly, train your employees on cybersecurity. Educate them on the types of cyber threats they may encounter and your password-protected systems. This training should be mandatory for all new hires, with annual refresher trainings thereafter. All employees should be required to sign a statement that certifies they received the cybersecurity training and understand the policy.
The risk management process
Every organization is unique, so its technology infrastructure will be as well. There is no cookie-cutter approach to managing cybersecurity risks.
The cybersecurity risk management process involves:
- Risk strategy — Determine the processes and controls your business needs.
- Risk analysis — Understand the specific threats your business faces.
- Implementation — Implement your security measures.
- Risk training — Train your staff on their role in cybersecurity.
- Monitoring — Test the effectiveness of your security measures and controls, and adjust them as needed.
- Risk transfer — Transfer your remaining risk to an insurance firm.
In the end, risk management is about weighing the benefits of risk reduction against the costs. Your cybersecurity risk management strategy should acknowledge that you cannot eliminate all system vulnerabilities or block all cyberattacks. But getting ahead of your cybersecurity risk will help you attend to the most critical flaws, threat trends and potential attacks.