We may be “done” with the global pandemic – but it is clearly not done with us. It continues to have an enormous impact on the way we live and work.
Data security has become yet another casualty.
Cyber attacks were already a major concern prior to the pandemic’s onset. But now, with a large portion of the workforce transitioning to remote work, the potential for breaches is greater than ever.
Businesses around the world are recognizing that in order to avoid becoming another cyber breach statistic, they must be proactive.
How’s your multifactor authentication (MFA) function? What about your network access controls (NAC)?
You may believe that the security systems you have in place are adequate – but do you really know?
You don’t – until you put it to the test.
Security risk assessment and testing will give you insight into your current security status, its strengths and weaknesses, and the information you need to create a proactive security strategy.
A “test environment” is a server that creates a dedicated environment in which you can run tests on the features you want to assess. It should provide a 100% accurate prediction of the way a new or remediated application will behave in the production environment – allowing you to refine your system’s software system security prior to deployment. And it will allow you to recreate identical environments in subsequent tests – providing a template for what should be regular, ongoing audits.
But remember – any data you run in that testing environment is potentially vulnerable, so ensure that you leave no sensitive data behind by utilizing a tool like WPReset to wipe it out.
Find Your Framework
Once your vulnerabilities have been identified, view them within a security framework.
These are structural templates that encompass the technologies, practices, and processes that companies employ to manage their networks and safeguard them from security threats.
You can choose from one of the many security frameworks that have been developed by advisory groups like the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). You can select a framework within which you’ll be able to strategically strengthen and customize your security posture. Using the right framework – one that addresses your website’s specific areas of weakness - will optimize your ability to protect, detect, respond to and recover from cybersecurity threats or attacks.
It’s also important to choose a programming language (like Python or Ruby on Rails) that can allow you to tailor site safety applications - ranging from security scanners to automated backup – that meet your needs.
Fill In the Gaps
Initiate steps – or security controls – that address your security concerns in order of priority.
Use your chosen security framework to remediate by deploying the tools and protocols that address your site’s specific vulnerabilities. This could include anything from shredding passwords to acquiring cloud-based applications.
The right security framework is adaptable, meets you where you are, and can act as a roadmap in strategically eliminating your identified vulnerabilities one step at a time.
Fortify with Software
As the number of cyber threats rises, so does the range of software designed to combat them.
A virtual private network (VPN) should be a priority in your fortification strategy.
An effective VPN service secures the connection between you and the rest of the online world through encryption - meaning hackers can’t view your online activity, detect your location, or steal or redirect your data.
Your VPN can ensure that only those sites you wish to connect with will have access to your unscrambled data, and it can block attempts to access your website from within countries that you don’t serve. If you’re not protected by an effective VPN service, all the information transmitted by your business over the internet – from business contacts to strategic plans to customer data - is at risk of being stolen.
Minimize the Target
In business, actions that don’t directly provide value to a business are defined as wasteful – or “muda”. By collecting only the data you absolutely require, you’ll minimize the size of your digital target for potential hackers. Consider an app that enables you to digitize essential processes, procedures, and workflows with a single tool. Break your practices down and document them in the form of a step-by-step checklist that includes only the essentials. As you and your teamwork through the app checklists on a repeated basis, waste will become easier to spot and eliminate.
Invest in an Insurance Umbrella
You hope the rainy day will never come, but the most sophisticated protective protocols in the world can’t absolutely guarantee cybersecurity. Any business that handles sensitive customer data, like credit card numbers, is potentially at risk.
Companies whose data is breached face the possibility of substantial fines and expensive legal settlements - and that’s on top of a hefty loss in consumer trust as a result of damage to the brand’s reputation.
Investing in cyber insurance is a no-brainer. It can cover you for a broad range of security-related claims, including data breaches, network failures, and media or content liability.
It provides more than financial cover: it gives you peace of mind. And that, after all, is the goal.
There’s no getting around it. Cybersecurity threats are real, and they’re on the rise. Taking appropriate preventive and protective measures now is crucial for any business that doesn’t want to become another cyber statistic.
A well-planned, layered approach should include not just protection against security threats, but also the regular monitoring of identified risks, and a strategic plan for responding to threats and incidents. The use of encryption, backup protocols, access restriction, and regular updating and patching of software will all help minimize your network’s vulnerabilities.
Taking the steps necessary to guard against cyber breaches requires the investment of time, effort, and – yes – money. But by getting ahead of any potential threats to your network security, you’re potentially saving your company from the substantial financial and reputational damage that these threats can incur.
And, with your security strategy mapped out and in action, you’ll be better able to focus your energies on your most important task – growing your business.