With recent headlines announcing large-scale ransomware attacks on multinational corporations, including the theft of 150 million credit reports and personal information, the awareness of cybersecurity has never been higher. A cyber attack could result in significant financial losses, cause permanent damage to your brand and reputation, put you at risk of fines and prosecution and compromise your intellectual property.

While there are many areas of cybersecurity which merit your attention, these are five key areas you should focus on:

1. Cybersecurity Health Check

A cybersecurity health check helps you understand where your business is at greatest risk of an attack. It outlines what you could lose and ensures your investment and resources are properly allocated to provide the greatest protection.

When completing a health check, ask yourself what is most at risk:

  • Do you store personal data or use proprietary research or technology?
  • What would cause the most damage, financially or reputationally, to your customers?
  • What would be of greatest value to the attacker?

Once you have completed your health check, initiate an action plan to better secure the highest-risk areas of your technology infrastructure. Review this process annually at a minimum.

2. Focus on Prevention

New threats are evolving faster than traditional defences can keep up. Therefore, a strategy completely focused on protection will always be a step behind. Organizations need to direct more of their cybersecurity budget toward preventative measures which help them see where they are vulnerable and where defences must be strengthened. These can help you scan your infrastructure for known exploits employed by cybercriminals and model how they could compromise your existing cybersecurity controls.

3. Have a Plan

Just as your office has safety procedures in the event of a fire, your business should have an incident response plan to defend your data in the event of a cyberattack.

This plan should include:

  • A legal team to provide guidance and communicate cybersecurity matters within the court system.
  • A communications plan or team to develop messaging for both your clients and the media, if necessary.
  • A cybersecurity firm to help contain and eliminate the threat and conduct digital forensics once the attack is resolved.
  • An incident response plan dictating the actions of key employees and outlining how to respond to the threat. This plan should be practiced frequently.

4. Education and Training

All staff play a role in ensuring your organization’s cybersecurity. Frequent education is critical.

Your training programs should include

  • Leadership involvement and role-modelling.
  • Overview of long-term cybersecurity plan and goals.
  • Personalized training plans based on role and access level.
  • Understand and Limit Access to Information

5. Understand and limit access to information

Ensuring the safety of your data means knowing who has access to your information and frequently reviewing whether certain permissions are required to do business. This will also include third-party service providers. An annual review of their security posture and access rights should be completed.

Assessing and prioritizing data:

  • Who should have access to this information?
  • What information is private and sensitive?
  • What qualifies as intellectual property and how tightly is it guarded?
  • What controls and agreements do you have in place?

In this constantly evolving technology landscape, it is important to understand where your organization is vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. An impartial third-party assessment is an effective first step for identifying gaps in your cyber defence strategy and learning what you can do to protect your information.