Integrating Cybersecurity Best Practices Across Your Organization
Across every industry, cyber attacks bring business operations to a grinding halt. They result in tremendous costs, delays and disruptions that can impact every aspect of your business. Integrating cybersecurity across your organization can go a long way toward saving you from the disastrous consequences of a breach.
On average, small to medium-sized businesses spend $117k recovering from a cyber attack. Two thirds of SMBs close their doors within six months of a hack or data breach. Those are some grim statistics, and it doesn’t stop there.
In 2019, ransomware attacks caused 764 organizations in the healthcare sector to temporarily stop operations. The same held true for 113 government institutions and 1,233 universities and school districts. No industry is safe from cyber attacks, and they are always costly.
How Ransomware Impacts Businesses
Ransomware is one of the most common and destructive malware cyber attacks. It’s activated when a user clicks on a malicious link or attachment which leads to installing dangerous software. Ransomware functions by taking control of an organization’s data and threatening to either make it public or block access entirely.
These attacks happen fast and without warning. According to Microsoft, 96.88% of all ransomware infections take under four hours to successfully infiltrate their target. The fastest malicious software can take over a company’s system in under 45 minutes.
Cybercriminals target businesses across industries, especially smaller organizations that (typically) have less stringent security practices in place. In 2021, 37% of all businesses and organizations were hit by ransomware, and 54% of those attacks were successful. In 2020, 55% of attacks hit businesses with fewer than 100 employees, and 75% of attacks were on companies making less than $50 million in revenue.
Basically, everyone is at risk, and ransomware can make its way in through any department.
Cybersecurity Is Everyone’s Responsibility
Too often, companies view cybersecurity as an IT issue. They leave it up to one department to keep the entire organization’s data safe. But, as Steven Chabinsky points out, “Thinking of cybersecurity solely as an IT issue is like believing that a company’s entire workforce, from the CEO down, is just one big HR issue.”
With malware in particular, the infiltration happens when someone clicks a bad link. That can happen to anyone in the organization – from Karen in accounting to Jamal in operations. IT may be responsible for cleaning up the mess, but everyone is responsible for avoiding metaphorical spills.
Integrating cybersecurity across your organization means everyone has a role to play in keeping data safe. It requires training from the top of the organization on down. Shifting the mindset from obligation to opportunity will go a long way toward helping everyone get on board. Better cybersecurity practices can generate revenue and provide visibility into the growth of the business.
Integrating Cybersecurity – Where to Start
First of all, keep in mind the advantages of better cybersecurity. Building a better foundation for your organization’s security will give you a competitive advantage. You won’t have to sacrifice speed or innovation. And you can start with the basics, then work your way up.
Use a Standard
There are two sides to integrating cybersecurity across an organization: compliance management and the technical domain. Many industries have regulated compliance standards that are required for an organization operating in that field. HIPAA, for example, covers the healthcare industry, and CMMC dictates security standards for contractors working with the Department of the Defense. There are also more generalized standards that apply to virtually any industry. Some examples include: ISO27001 and GDPR, as well as standards for protecting PII. Using one of these standards will provide the framework to build from.
Compliance standards will help form the policies and procedures as well as how you then implement those in the technical domain. This side of integrating cybersecurity best practices includes:
- Requirements Management – how requirements are tracked, validated and stored
- Governance – controlling who has access to sensitive data
- Risk Management – ensuring a strategic approach to managing threats
- Functional Execution – implementing the standards
- Procedures and Proof – collecting evidence that standards are being met
Get Buy-In Across Departments
Begin by identifying priorities across your organization. What are the company’s security goals and the current plan for implementation? Is everyone on the same page here? Most likely not yet. But they can be.
Again, it’s important to work on mindset here. Once everyone understands that better security is better business, it will be a lot easier to get buy-in across the board. Here are a few tips for getting teams into alignment around integrating cybersecurity:
- Work with the IT or Security team to align goals based on your most sensitive data
- Create a working group outside of IT and Security to support your initiatives
- Encourage your team to identify how they fit into the overall security posture
- Review with different departments on how they are working together to identify gaps in the plan
- Engage your leadership to support resource allocation for internal security reviews
Incorporate Security Reviews and Cybersecurity Basics
Vulnerability assessments and security reviews are vital, ongoing practices to get in place. Creating a stronger cybersecurity position across the organization should start here. Conduct an overall security assessment, including policies and procedures (IR/Disaster Recovery) to get a sense of your organization’s current vulnerabilities. Implement policies for annual penetration testing and vulnerability scanning, as well as analyzing your third-party risk.
Then, implement the basics. Effectively integrating cybersecurity requires security practices for every employee. Some of the vital, standard security best practices to implement include:
- Network and Endpoint Monitoring
- Email Filtering
- Backup and Recovery
- Access Control
- Laptop Encryption
- 24×7 Managed Threat
Start Small and Build
Obviously, trying to tackle an entire security overhaul at once will be overwhelming for everyone. That’s why it’s important to start small and build out your framework and implementation plan.
Once you’ve broken things down into manageable chunks, then you can work on implementing them effectively. Here are the steps to take for each part of your comprehensive plan:
- Start with the high-risk areas
- Align the project to the appropriate department
- Assign a project manager or project coordinator
- Create a project plan with realistic timelines
- Identify the end goal and be able to articulate it
- Talk to the organization about why this is important
- Celebrate the wins along the way with changes to the organization
Outside Help Will Make It Easier
If this seems like a lot to tackle internally, that’s because it is – especially if you’re a small or medium-sized business. That’s why hiring a technical consulting firm like Point Solutions might be the best choice for your organization. We operate with a simple guiding mantra. Work smart. Deploy the best people. Keep all data secure. And always provide customers with an efficient, “less is more” approach.
If you want help integrating cybersecurity across your organization, we’d love to make it happen. Reach out today.