7 measures you must take to protect your company from cyberattacks

62% of companies in the US experienced some kind of cyberattack recently. The risk is real, it’s no longer a matter of ‘if’ but a matter of ‘when’. You should be prepared.

Practically, all modern businesses are reliant on digital networks in some way or another. Surely some industries are more reliant than others, but this doesn’t negate the fact that everyone is exposed to a certain level of cyber risks. Unfortunately, statistics show that businesses tend to be negligent when it comes to their cybersecurity, especially when you look at small to medium-sized companies.

While having a good cybersecurity plan is good to limit the damage after a cyberattack, the scope of operation of cyber liability insurance plans is limited to “after” the breach. That’s why companies should also put in place several effective mitigation measures to reduce the risks in the first place.

Why is cyber liability insurance not enough?

Think of your company as a house, you put fire detectors, and buy a fire extinguisher to limit the damage in case a fire happens. These measures don’t prevent a fire from ever happening, but they are effective in limiting the subsequent damage. Following the same analogy, you don’t go running around installing a fire detection system while your house is already on fire.

That’s exactly how cyber liability insurance works. It’s very good at limiting the damage, but it’s not designed to prevent a breach from happening. That’s the job of a series of security measures that every company should consider following the level of risk exposure they have.

When you have some kind of security breach, it’s not the time to go out and try to determine what you are going to put in place to minimize the risks. You don’t want to be doing that at that time.
Insurance plans should be implemented when there’s no panic or chaos.

What is the impact of a cyberattack on a business?

What businesses often omit is the severity of the risks they are facing. Statistics show that less than 10% of businesses recover from a cyberattack in the following 6 to 12 months. Cyberattacks threaten the very existence of your business. Other impacts may include:

  • Financial Loss.
  • Long-term Operational Disruption
  • Loss of critical data and business secrets
  • Reputational damage.
  • Legal and Regulatory Consequences.

Best mitigation practices to protect your business from a cyberattack

Mitigation practices can vary depending on the industry, company size, and a multitude of other factors. However, we can have a cheat-sheet, summarizing the most important, and easiest measures to ensure that your company has a minimum level of cybersecurity.

  • Designating A Security Officer

In an organization, a security officer plays a pivotal role in driving and overseeing various security aspects. Their primary responsibility involves organizing regular security meetings to identify and address potential risks within the organization. Similar to designing and maintaining a website, cybersecurity within an organization should be approached with an iterative mindset, continuously evolving to stay relevant. Cybersecurity is not a one-time solution but rather a continuous journey.

Thus, a dedicated security officer ensures the progress and effectiveness of cybersecurity measures. It is highly recommended that this should be set up as a high-level position within the organization, signifying their responsibility for ensuring forward momentum. Their role does not entail completing all tasks but rather overseeing and coordinating efforts to uphold up-to-date cybersecurity standards.

  • Multifactor Authentication

Multifactor authentication is a crucial aspect of ensuring security in today’s world. It is widely regarded as the most effective measure one can take to protect various systems. We emphasize the importance of implementing multifactor authentication across all platforms and critical business systems that handle client information, communication, and data. Virtually every system should be protected with multifactor authentication.

Many firms are unaware that breaches often go unnoticed for a considerable time, leading to reputational damage and potential data exposure. This is why utilizing multifactor authentication for every account is highly recommended, as it significantly reduces the risk of such incidents and serves as the best defense mechanism.

  • Security Assessments

Another important aspect is conducting security assessments. This involves bringing in a third-party expert to thoroughly examine your systems. The field of security is complex and constantly evolving, with changes occurring daily. The insurance industry and other sectors are adapting to these changes, and it is crucial to collaborate with professionals who focus on security full-time. Just as you wouldn’t expect to be an expert in every domain, it is beneficial to rely on experts who can provide insights and guidance. Once the initial assessment is complete, tabletop exercises can be conducted to further enhance preparedness and response capabilities.

  • Tabletop Exercises

Tabletop exercises are highly valuable for C-level executives and leadership teams. These exercises involve gathering together in a room and simulating a real-world scenario where a breach has occurred or has just been discovered. The purpose is to guide the organization in understanding what actions to take in such a situation. During the exercise, participants discuss and determine the appropriate steps to be taken, whom to communicate with, and how to execute their plan. They address questions like how to navigate the crisis, extinguish the metaphorical fire, and initiate recovery processes.

Engaging in these discussions once or twice a year and reviewing the existing strategies and protocols can have a significant impact on the organization’s ability to respond effectively. While it may not be possible to completely avoid breaches, the focus lies in how the organization responds and survives the aftermath. Therefore, these exercises are crucial for refining response strategies and preparing for the post-impact phase.

  • No Personal Devices

One effective measure to enhance cybersecurity is to prohibit the use of personal devices, such as smartphones or laptops, for accessing sensitive or critical systems and networks. This policy helps to minimize the risk of unauthorized access, data leakage, and the introduction of malware or other malicious software. By restricting access to approved and secured devices, organizations can maintain better control over the security of their networks and reduce the potential attack surface.

  • Backup Everything Daily With Encryption:

Regularly backing up data is crucial for mitigating the impact of cybersecurity incidents such as data breaches, ransomware attacks, or system failures. By performing daily backups, organizations ensure that their data can be recovered in case of any adverse events. It is also essential to employ encryption when performing backups to protect the confidentiality and integrity of the data during storage and transmission. Encryption ensures that even if the backup files are compromised, the data remains unreadable and unusable without the appropriate decryption keys.

  • Determine Your Critical Ops And Systems:

To effectively prioritize cybersecurity efforts, it is important to identify and classify the critical operations and systems within an organization. Critical operations can include services or processes that are essential for the organization’s functioning, such as financial transactions, customer data management, or industrial control systems. By understanding which operations and systems are most vital, organizations can allocate resources appropriately, implement additional security measures, and prioritize incident response efforts. This approach helps to ensure that the most critical assets are adequately protected and that resources are not spread too thin across less critical areas.

Why is multifactor authentification so important?

Multifactor authentication stands out as one of the primary measures to mitigate risks effectively in the present cybersecurity landscape. It is worth noting that carriers now require organizations to provide attestation regarding the specific type of multifactor authentication deployed across their critical systems. Officials of any organization need to be aware of this requirement since there have been instances where heads of companies were unaware of the completion of these forms.

These forms must be completed accurately to ensure the full enforcement of the organization’s insurance policy. If the forms are inaccurately filled out, the carrier may raise concerns about the declared security measures, and failure to provide accurate information may result in difficulties in obtaining the full range of services from the carrier.

It is essential to foster a culture of security within organizations. The ongoing battle against cyber threats requires a proactive and adaptive approach. Recognizing that this is a dynamic and ever-changing war, companies must respond accordingly. Regrettably, many organizations realize the urgency of the situation only when it is too late. Therefore, it is crucial to take action now by implementing security measures, creating contingency plans, and cultivating a culture of security. Just as one installs smoke detectors in advance to prevent potential disasters, prioritizing security and building a robust security mindset is the best defense.