Costs associated with cyberattacks are growing rapidly, particularly for businesses. That’s not likely to change any time soon.

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 (good), the total number of records compromised increased by 141 percent (bad). 2020 was, by far, the largest number of records exposed in a single year since 2005. And 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 popular 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 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, and 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 simply to implement antivirus software and firewalls. 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

Cybersecurity is important for several reasons. First, as we outlined above, successful cybersecurity attacks can be painfully expensive to resolve. Attacks also distract management from the company’s primary business objectives, as businesses spend time repairing whatever damage was done. Loss of reputation among customers, supply chain disruptions, lawsuits, regulatory investigations – the list of consequences for not investing in cybersecurity is endless.

The reality is that businesses must invest in comprehensive cybersecurity practices to protect interactions within their own staff, with their customers and clients, and with third-party vendors and suppliers. Every step of your supply chain is connected in this era of business, so every interaction you have online or via social media is yet another cyber risk.

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 are connected to the internet today than ever before; 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.

How Cybersecurity Differs from Compliance

While maintaining regulatory compliance supports cybersecurity efforts, not all compliance is related and cybersecurity – and not all cybersecurity relates to compliance. Here are a few key differences to consider:

Cybersecurity is:

  • Guided by internal needs and goals, serving the business itself rather than an external entity;
  • Focused on protecting the business from threats to its assets;
  • A continuous process with the need for regular audits, maintenance, and evaluation.

Compliance is:

  • Guided by external demands such as a federal law, an industry regulation, or even a contractual obligation from customers;
  • Focused on business needs among multiple parties;
  • A yearly or triennial process that finishes upon approval of the third-party entity.

Essentially, cybersecurity protects your assets through a set of controls and protocols that compliance assures are in place. Both compliance and cybersecurity are necessary for complete cyber risk mitigation within your organization, and they may both be managed by your cybersecurity team – but they are different processes with different goals.

Best Practices for Corporate Cybersecurity

The best practices below will help to strengthen your company’s risk management protocols 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 backups 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. Assuring that 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.

This can often 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 saying is very 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 keep your organization 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.

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