In this day and age, the wave of cyber security threats is deafening. Every week, businesses are facing millions of new malware variants and hacks, as well as having to deal with the deluge of media hype and marketing hysteria over the latest and newest threats, as well as the headlines of the most recent business to be breached. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s hard to keep up.
Traditionally, the approach to cyber security would be to tactically meet this head-on. That would mean buying newer devices and appliances, as well as recruiting more people to manage the problem. Of course, this then creates more ‘noise’ and doesn’t necessarily solve the question of tackling today’s cyber trends. To complicate matters, the dynamic evolution of the threat landscape, constant regulatory changes and the digital transformation of all industries have completely changed the face of cyber security as we know it.
Today, unfortunately, nobody is safe. That sounds pretty doom and gloom but it seems everyone is a target for cyber criminals. No matter your industry, business location, company size or IT infrastructure, hackers will be looking to exploit any weaknesses, and you should assume you are a target. That correlates with the frequency of breaches and the size of plunder, both of which are growing as a result of the expanded threat landscape. Insider threats, ransomware, phishing… It’s an avalanche. But it’s not an impossible situation.
The changing face of cyber
As mentioned, digital transformation has changed the game completely. While on one side it has opened up new opportunities and possibilities, on the other side it’s opened the door for cyber criminals. These criminals are licking their lips as more technologies get introduced into the world, and the workplace. For every benefit of every connected device, there is a risk that goes with it. Additionally, from employees expecting to work with the latest digital tools, on a variety of devices, to customers demanding seamless and interactive experiences, change is well and truly upon us, whether we like it or not. The role of cyber security now is to maximise the potential of these opportunities and possibilities while minimising the risks. Cyber security should facilitate and enable change, not hinder it.
The regulatory landscape has hammered home the important role of strong cyber security. When the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force in May 2018, it announced one of the biggest ever shake-ups to IT security. The GDPR wasn’t just eye-watering from a financial point of view, but also from a reputational risk point of view. The regulation made it critical for every organisation to ‘bake-in’ privacy by design. While the GDPR changed the game, it’s a game that is never-ending. Various regulations and standards continually come into force in a bid to force businesses to improve their information management and security and avoid being the next name to fall victim to foul online play.
What’s evident is it’s incredibly difficult to navigate the cyber landscape, with wave after wave of threats making identifying the real challenges tough. Here are four key areas to focus on to help ignore the hype.
1. A better understanding of your existing security
Regardless of the latest cyber trends and threats, understand your own environment. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, so recognise that your IT environment is unique.
Proactively assess your vulnerabilities and your digital footprint. See it as an audit of everything internet-facing. Then, spend time to identify, prioritise and resolve any weaknesses you find before a hacker can exploit them. If you can’t do it yourself, hire an expert or get an ethical hacker to regularly test your security. Lastly, stay on top of the latest threats so you know what to look out for.
2. Address your biggest weakness
In the vast majority of big data breaches in the last decade, there is a common link: People. And by that, we mean the exploitation of a businesses weakest link: It’s people. We aren’t saying blame them. It’s not their fault. Instead, businesses must spend more time and money on training and educating them to understand the risks.
Every employee today is a gatekeeper of data and, therefore, a threat to your network. Even the most junior person in your business. They need to understand their responsibilities as an employee in the digital age. From email phishing to social engineering, setting strong passwords to two-factor authentication, strengthen their cyber resilience and you’ll quickly strengthen your defences.
3. Unlock digital transformation, securely
Ask yourself: How can I support the delivery of my businesses goals? Cyber security must form a key part of every digital transformation initiative and business goal. From a long-term perspective, plan defences to keep pace with the rapid evolution of technology and make sure your security is robust enough to meet the demands of change.
For example, in the remote working world of today, businesses need to be able to fully protect both in-house and cloud-based software, as well as ensure employees can securely and seamlessly work as they would in the office. Application and endpoint security has never been more important. And downtime is not acceptable.
4. Protect endpoint devices
Given the amount of devices now being used for work, and the growth of IoT, endpoint security must still be a core focus point for businesses. It’s even more important than securing the perimeter.
Focus on identifying and responding to cyber attacks once they are already inside your network. That means layered and complex cyber security capabilities, such as real-time threat detection. It’s more than just basic endpoint security, it’s cyber intelligence.
Endpoint detection and response ensures IT teams are alerted as soon as a threat has been identified so they can minimise the risk and deal with the malicious activity.
These four areas will provide the strong foundations required for a holistic approach to cyber security. You want to be able to understand the threat landscape and make informed decisions as and when needed. So, does the avalanche of cyber security noise leave you feeling swamped? If so, close out the sound and turn your attention to the four areas above.