Today’s technology makes it easy for businesses to digitize, store, and use data, from customer information to business intelligence. Even the smallest businesses are likely to keep some information online, in the cloud, or on computers. Unfortunately, this comes with cyber security risks. As cyber crimes continue to advance in both quantity and quality, organizations of all sizes need to stay up to date on how to reduce cyber security risks.
In 2019 alone, Juniper Research estimates that more than $2 trillion will be forfeited across the globe due to cyber crimes. It’s not just big businesses that stand to lose from increased cyber crime, either. Small businesses can be victimized as well, and they are typically in a worse financial position to handle the fallout of a data breach.
Only 13% of cyber security spend came from small businesses in 2018, Juniper Research reported. Many of them spend less than $500 annually on cyber security, leaving these organizations inadequately prepared.
This issue will likely get worse in the coming years. Forbes predicts that by 2021, cyber security attacks will cost $6 trillion globally. To put that into perspective, it’s more than an entire year’s worth of financial losses resulting from natural disasters. It’s also a higher cost than the worldwide illegal drug trade.
Cyber attacks are the largest growing threat to our global economy. Accordingly, businesses must invest in innovative cyber security solutions, as well as establish internal and external cyber security teams to protect themselves from this worldwide crisis. Learn more about how to reduce cyber security risks at your organization today.
Top 3 Strategies to Reduce Cyber Security Risks
Cyber security is all-encompassing and constantly evolving, which can make it difficult for companies to keep up. If your organization is looking to expand its cyber security, consider these innovative strategies to reduce your cyber security risks.
1. Identify Sensitive Data
The first step to protecting sensitive data is knowing what and where it is. Data visibility, therefore, is a critical component of reducing cyber security risks.
According to Cameron Bahar, Chief Technology Officer of Veritas, it is imperative for enterprises to understand their risk profile. “Companies should be questioning the data they possess with specific emphasis on whether it’s backed up, if it has GDPR related information or if there is some customer information that should be protected,” said Bahar. Otherwise, sensitive information could go unprotected. If stolen, it could damage your company and its reputation.
Start with an all-inclusive scan of your enterprise, including all programs, computers, hardware, servers, networks, databases, structured and unstructured data, and cloud storage. To continue monitoring data as it is created, shared, and edited, it is important to begin tracking and reviewing data movement across your organization as well.
Comprehensive data visibility is too large an undertaking to be completed manually. The right technology solution can help you identify and monitor sensitive data simply and effectively. Contact Sentient Digital, Inc. today to learn how we can help.
2. Employ Data De-Identification Procedures
The next step to learning how to reduce cyber security risks at your business is data de-identification. After sensitive data is located, it can be de-identified to obscure personal information. Names, addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, and more can be concealed or removed.
This strategy is especially common among credit card companies, healthcare institutions, and other organizations that must handle sensitive client information. In fact, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services includes a de-identification standard in its HIPAA Privacy Rule.
There are two main ways to de-identify data. Pseudonymization involves switching personal identifiers with pseudonyms. With this method, individuals cannot be identified by data without more information. While this allows data to be re-identified if necessary, it risks an individual’s indirect identification if the right data is available and cross-referenced. Anonymization, on the other hand, irreversibly strips personal identifiers from data.
Establishing data de-identification across your organization involves methodically collecting data, de-identifying it, and then storing it. If you need help instituting a de-identification system, contact us for more information.
3. Use Security Artifacts
Security artifacts constitute the data left behind by users and applications when they engage with an operating system. Unlike log files, which can easily be cleared, it is extremely difficult to tamper with artifacts. As you might imagine, this information can be tremendously helpful for both preventing and tracking cyber security breaches.
Artifacts were instrumental in investigating the infamous Office of Personnel Management (OPM) breach, for instance. A security engineer noticed encrypted SSL traffic on their networks, which alerted OPM to the attack. This allowed OPM to locate where the hackers had gained access and identify the remote access Trojan (RAT) installed on OPM’s system. Although OPM was not able to collect enough information to prove which individual committed the attack, information about the RAT used in the attack points to Chinese hackers.
Having a system that actively tracks the users and applications accessing your system and pulls their information can help prevent data breaches. If your data is attacked, the security artifacts left behind can allow you to assess how much of your information was accessed and, potentially, by whom. By periodically inspecting artifacts, you may be able to recognize a threat even earlier and minimize the potential damage.
If you’re wondering how to reduce cyber security risks with security artifacts at your organization, contact our cyber security experts.
How to Reduce Cyber Security Risks with Internal and External Efforts
No matter your team’s size or level of technological literacy, it is critical to employ both internal and external efforts to reduce cyber security risks. Businesses only allocate 3.3% of their revenue to I.T. on average, Vice reported. In many cases, just 3% of a company’s I.T. budget goes to cyber security, or 0.1% of revenue. As technology continues to become more and more ingrained in business practices, companies need to invest more in cyber security to protect themselves.
Why Invest in Internal Efforts?
Cyber security is intrinsically related to a company’s privacy and reputation, leading most businesses to want their own team to be involved in efforts to reduce cyber security risks. According to a research report from CompTIA, 72% of companies consider security an internal operation.
For cyber security measures to succeed at an organization, it is important that every member of the team participates. Security must be taken into account across all departments, procedures, and activities. Tim Brown, SolarWinds MSP’s Vice President of Security, said, “From finance, to HR, to marketing, to operations—everyone needs to be a good cyber steward. It’s really all hands on deck to make sure the entire organisation is adhering to the right protocols, practicing good cyberhygiene, and understanding how their specific job plays into the cyber landscape.”
In addition to practicing good cyber security basics across your enterprise, you need experts to assess your risks, monitor your security, and conduct more advanced strategies. They can be internal or external to your organization. Regarding in-house professionals, these responsibilities most commonly fall to the chief information security officer (CISO), cyber security employees, and I.T. team.
When your security experts can communicate effectively with your board of directors, these teams can work together to implement cyber security policies and budgets appropriately. However, it can be difficult for CISOs and security employees to share results in a meaningful way with the board. Anthony Dagostino, Willis Towers Watson’s global head of cyber risk, said, “While CISOs are security specialists, most of them still struggle with adequately translating security threats into operational and financial impact to their organisations—which is what boards want to understand.”
To make the most of security professionals’ expertise, it can be helpful to use technology to help measure cyber security risks and communicate findings to your board of directors. In particular, outsourcing reporting technology to an external team can lend an objective lens to security assessments.
Why Invest in External Efforts?
Research from CompTIA shows that 78% of businesses that use internal resources for security also use external security products or services. Of those that outsource security needs in some capacity, half hire two or three separate security companies. This underlines the growing complexity of maintaining comprehensive cyber security for an organization, especially those that are larger or require more specialized security.
Businesses of any size can benefit from the impartiality afforded by external security efforts. Stephen Moore, Exabeam’s Chief Security Strategist, said, “If placed within the IT organisation, information security will operate in a conflict of interests. Security requires reactive corrections to flawed environments. Corrections always come at an operational cost, often in the form of an outage.” High performance and continuous service are often the primary goals of I.T., making it difficult for them to prioritize security simultaneously.
In addition, external teams can supplement efforts to track, measure, and report on a company’s cyber security. According to CompTIA, just 21% of businesses report “heavy use” of security metrics. But tracking metrics like “percent of network traffic flagged as anomalous” and “percent of systems with formal risk assessment” can help your organization identify problems earlier as well as set and meet goals. Not only does this help quantify security issues and successes for your board, but also it enables your company to take a proactive approach to security instead of merely a reactive one.
Contact Us for Cyber Security Solutions
Sentient Digital, Inc. can help to reduce your cyber security risks with competitive new strategies and solutions. No matter if you’re seeking ongoing support, assistance with a specific project, or staff augmentation, our experts are ready to meet your security needs.
Call us today at 504-308-1464 or contact us online. We look forward to hearing from you!