Recent research indicates that costs associated with cyberattacks are growing rapidly, particularly for businesses.

In its 2020 Year End Data Breach QuickView Report, Risk Based Security tracked 3,932 publicly reported data breaches in 2020, compromising more than 37 billion records.

While the total number of publicly reported data breaches fell by 48 percent from 2019, the total number of records compromised increased by 141 percent. 2020 was, by far, the largest number of records exposed in a single year since 2005. Furthermore, the average cost to a company that suffers a data breach is now nearly $4 million.

This tells us that cybercriminals are getting smarter. Instead of more attacks with less damage, they are now causing more damage with fewer attacks. For example, in 2019, Canva, a high-profile Australian graphic design firm suffered a breach that exposed email addresses, usernames, names, cities of residence, and passwords of 137 million users.

And because cybersecurity threats are increasing for companies of all sizes, the need for corporate cybersecurity should be a top priority.

Cybersecurity Challenges Facing the Corporate World

Today, an organization’s competitive advantage depends on how well it can use technology to automate repetitive tasks, improve reporting, and take advantage of the data to improve strategic decision-making.

The more an organization relies on information technology, however, the more vulnerable it is to security breaches by bad actors who make a career of finding vulnerabilities within the corporate IT ecosystem. Common cybersecurity risks include ransomware, malware, phishing, endpoint breaches.

The proliferation of cybersecurity incidents may well be the biggest risk facing corporate organizations. In addition to the cost of a breach, the potential for downtime and reputation loss are both serious enough to force a corporation into bankruptcy if the incident is catastrophic.

The need for businesses and their IT departments to implement information security protocols can not be ignored. 

In years past, it was enough to simply implement antivirus software and firewalls, but that is no longer the case. Today, organizations must successfully identify and mitigate risks early on to prevent attacks.  

Why Cybersecurity Is Important for Businesses

Rising costs of breaches 

While it’s true cyberattacks can wreak havoc on an organization’s finances, it’s not just about the money. A data breach can also severely damage a company’s reputation. Customers may lose trust in firms that suffer cyberattacks and opt to do business with their competitors. 

Additionally, organizations that don’t implement data protection measures to protect customer data, intellectual property, or other sensitive information may not attract new business.

More sophisticated cyberattacks 

To avoid suffering data breaches, businesses must implement stronger controls to help them detect and respond to more advanced malicious activity before that activity can cause damage and disrupt operations.

Increase of hacking tools

The availability of hacking tools and programs means that even less skilled hackers can successfully breach corporate computer systems. 

The proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices

More devices than ever are connected to the internet; estimates are that 27.1 billion devices will be connected worldwide this year. If those devices aren’t secured properly, criminals can exploit IoT vulnerabilities to hack into a company’s systems and steal sensitive data.

Now that you understand the challenges of corporate cybersecurity and the importance of managing it, let’s move into best practices for implementing a cybersecurity program. 

Best Practices for Corporate Cybersecurity

The best practices below will help to strengthen your business’ risk management protocols and implement the protocols necessary to identify, mitigate, and prevent future cybersecurity risks.

Assess Your Specific Cybersecurity Risks

Before you can prevent cybersecurity risks, you must understand what your risks are. An assessment of the possible risks to your organization is the best place to start. This cybersecurity audit checklist is a great resource as you are beginning to assess your internal data security.

Identify the Sensitive Data That Needs Protection 

Start by identifying the data within your organization that must be protected. The easiest way to do this is to consult compliance standards that are relevant to your business. These standards will dictate what information needs to be protected. 

Examples include: 

  • GDPR as it relates to the privacy of personal information of EU residents
  • HIPAA if you deal with healthcare related data
  • PCI for financial institutions and any organization that handles credit card data
  • NIST for organizations that operate within the U.S. government.

Store Sensitive Data Securely

All sensitive data should be stored in an environment with robust security measures to prevent unauthorized access. Furthermore, this data should be backed up regularly by security professionals, with back-ups stored in a separate, equally protected area. 

Keep Existing Software Updated 

Out-of-date software presents a unique opportunity for cybercrime professionals to gain access to your infrastructure. Ensuring all applications are kept up to date is an easy way to ensure that this particular vulnerability never exists in your organization. This is especially important for any security products your organization uses.

Strengthen User Rights Management 

Passwords are no longer enough to protect your user’s information. Instead, many cutting-edge organizations now employ 2FA (two-factor authentication) to strengthen access management.

Often this can be done through an easy-to-use application that employees can keep on their mobile devices to approve a sign-on. This ensures an access request is legitimate.

Furthermore, a mandatory security policy that defines password complexity requirements will also help to fortify your defenses.

Raise Employee Awareness

It’s important that everyone in the company understands and complies with cybersecurity initiatives. For example, mandatory training can help to educate employees on your corporate security policies. Employee acknowledgement forms can document their compliance. 

If your employees work remotely (as so many are these days), you might consider eliminating BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies and instead implement security practices that require that employees use company-approved, secure devices and private Wi-Fi networks for work-related activities.

Create a Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity Plan 

“Expect the best; prepare for the worst.” This adage is true for corporate cybersecurity. The more prepared your organization is for all potential outcomes, the better it will be able to respond and continue operations during and after a cyberattack. 

This step can be done during your risk assessment, as you identify potential risks and steps you want to take to assure an “adverse outcome” doesn’t happen. 

Adopt the Right Tools and Services

These best practices require the implementation of skilled third-party service providers, and technology to assist and support your organization’s cybersecurity program. Will you need security consultants, sophisticated software, or both? The answer to that question will depend on the size and resources of your business, as well as its specific risk profile. 

Furthermore, cybersecurity software is not enough to provide long-term success. As security threats evolve, it’s also important to implement a risk management solution that will ensure your organization can stay ahead of emerging risks.

The Best Way to Protect Your Company From Cyber-attacks

Cybersecurity and risk management go hand-in-hand as threats continue to evolve. Enlisting the help of a cybersecurity company is essential to manage your short-term danger, but risk management addresses potential threats over a much larger realm of corporate activity. So a solution that incorporates both programs is the best way to protect your company from cyberattacks. 

ZenGRC is a governance, risk management, and compliance solution that can work to support your cybersecurity program. With it, companies can gain real-time visibility into the effectiveness of their cybersecurity solutions, and the insight to implement better incident response and detection based on risk and compliance requirements.

ZenGRC allows organizations to focus on the fundamental issues of compliance, while eliminating the tedious tasks that often make risk management a burden. 

Not only will this alleviate some of the burdens for your CISO; it will also make risk management best practices throughout the organization far simpler. 

To see how ZenGRC can improve your risk management and continuous monitoring strategies, schedule a free demo today.