Nearly every organization has adapted to life in the digital world. With plenty of connected devices, and the number of access points into organizations is growing every year, it’s no coincidence that there is an increasing number of high-profile cyberattacks on governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations. From the alleged hacking of the 2016 U.S. election, the WannaCry ransomware, the Ukraine Petya attack (that shut down their power grid) to other lower-profile attacks, hundreds of millions of dollars of damage has already impacted organizations around the world. As a result, cybersecurity is at the front of mind for many organizations.
Survey existing technology to find exploitable weaknesses.
Keeping software up-to-date is an essential activity to maintain your organization’s cybersecurity. The WannaCry ransomware attack, for example, exploited vulnerabilities in software that had not recently received an update.
There is a major reason why a software company might issue an update. It’s done to fix bugs and patch security risks for the end user. Organizations should ensure that all software is running on the newest version. If your RIA (or organization in general) does not maintain updated software, they run the risk of being targeted for ransomware, exposing your client’s data, or losing control of your digital platforms (website, CMS, portal, etc.).
The costs associated with a data breach (or other forms of cyberattacks) are very high and are not only monetary. A successful cyberattack on your business will cost much more than it would to implement the proper solutions and mitigate the effects of a cyberattack ahead of time. Your reputation will be hurt if you allow hackers access to sensitive data; people will lose confidence in you. Avoid these repercussions by keeping your software up to date.
Create policies to minimize human exploitation points.
Every business needs policies concerning the use of technology. Without adequate rules in place, your business is at risk of exploitation through human mistakes. Humans are often the weakest point of defence in any system. as they have traits that can be taken advantage of by malicious actors.
The definition of social engineering is:
“an attack vector that relies heavily on human interaction and often involves tricking people into breaking normal security procedures.”
There are several common methods of social engineering, from phishing (or spear-phishing) to leaving infected USBs around for employees to find use. There are countless ways to exploit the human weaknesses of your cyber-defence. Employees need to be aware of the risks and how to mitigate them.
There needs to be multiple systems in place to protect the business from threats originating from social media.Social media is an emerging platform for phishing attacks, viruses that affect social media feeds, and malicious advertisements disguised as sponsored posts. Make your employees aware of the risks associated with social media and act accordingly to protect themselves and your organizational data.
To reduce your organization’s chance of falling victim to social engineering, you need to have policies for the use of technology in place. Those policies should be enforceable and include actionable steps. The rules need to be unambiguous. They need to explicitly outline what is and isn’t allowed regarding technology, to reduce confusion among your employees.
Empower and reward employees.
To ensure you are followings best-practices regarding cybersecurity, you will need to train your staff to identify and avoid situations that put the organization at risk. Rules and technology policies mean nothing if employees are not aware of them (and following them). By training your team to follow the rules and spot vulnerabilities, your systems will be more secure.
In addition to training all staff to find and avoid security vulnerabilities, you should empower and reward them for finding potential weaknesses in your organization’s defence. By rewarding your employees (either with a cash “bounty” program, or another method), they will feel like a critical part of the organization’s security efforts. Cybersecurity is not solely the concern of IT departments.
How can you ensure that the training and reward system works? By testing and drilling staff to ensure they are following the rules. Testing your team can involve test phishing emails to see whether employees can spot a malicious email. It can include leaving a USB at their desk to see if they use it. There are many ways IT professionals can check to see if non-tech employees are following the required procedures. Let them get creative in designing their tests, as real-life malicious actors almost always act in creative ways that are hard to predict.
The main vulnerability when it comes to a cyberattack is not a piece of technology. The main weakness of any system is people. People can fall victim to social engineering. Attackers can trick your employees into giving up confidential information that could put your business at risk, so be diligent online. Human actions can expose even the most secure digital properties to severe threats.
The three steps explored above will help any organization improve the strength of their cybersecurity. It’s important to be aware of potential threats because once they hit, it may be too late.
How does your business handle the threat of cyberattacks? Do you have a policy in place governing the use of technology in your business? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ or follow us on LinkedIn. In conclusion, cybersecurity is extremely important to businesses.