Cybersecurity is a vital component of company infrastructure. Success depends on a company’s ability to protect its proprietary information and customer data from those who would abuse it. Regardless of size, scope, or industry, every company that wants to survive must answer two fundamental questions while assessing itself:

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This text will attempt to answer both of these questions as holistically as possible despite the answers continually evolving.

A Definition of Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a series of protocols that a company or an individual follows to enure information maintains its “ICA” – integrity, confidentiality and availability. If you have the right security in place, you will have the ability to recover very quickly from power outages, errors or hard drive failures. It will make your ogranization less vulnerable to external attacks and hackers. You will get protection from sophisticated criminal groups and ‘script kiddies’ that have the capacity to execute APTs, otherwise known as advanced persistent threats.

The concepts of business continuity and disaster recovery are the base strategies of good cybersecurity. Business continuity is essential to the survival of a business.  Recovering from threats quickly means you can retain your audience during problematic situations. Problems will less likely become customer-facing issues if there is a plan in place. Disaster recovery means maintaining the integrity of your data and your infrastructure after a catastrophic event. These threats are ultimately classified by the level of cybersecurity currently implemented in your digital infrastructure.

The Importance of Cybersecurity

Why should security be at the forefront every company’s agenda? Why should senior management, including non-tech C-suite decision-makers, concern themselves with cybersecurity?

There is one undeniable reason: The digital world in which we do business is vulnerable and open to attack.

Digitization brings with it endless opportunities for innovation. It still has a long way to go before becoming a fully secure ecosystem that is programmed to regulate and control itself. Decision-makers should ensure that all systems in their company adhere to the latest high-security standards. Employees must also be trained in basic cyber-security protocols too. This is especially true of non-tech employees. For instance, everyone needs to know how to identify a phishing email and how to quarantine it, while notifying the proper authority, both internal and external.

The odds are against you without the right security strategy. Even with the strongest controls in place, count on those controls to be tested. Attackers know how to find weak spots and exploit them, opening holes up that bring down stronger systems. The solution is having good ‘cyber hygiene’, or practicing the fundamental security tasks that will keep the majority of threats out.

Challenges of Cybersecurity

The best cybersecurity strategies go well beyond the basics mentioned above. Any sophisticated hacker can avoid these simple defenses. Cybersecurity also becomes more difficult as a company expands. For example, the ‘attack surface’ of a Fortune 1000 company is much larger than a small to medium-sized business.

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Expanded Attack Opportunities for Hackers

Another challenge of cybersecurity is dealing with the increasing overlap between the physical and virtual worlds of information exchange. As driverless cars and other self-regulated devices become the norm, the Internet of Things (IoT) and BYOD business policies give criminals more access to cyber-physical systems. That include cars, factories, the smart fridge and toaster in your kitchen, to even one’s medical pacemaker. In the future, infiltrating one of these systems may mean infiltrating them all.

Complicated Regulation

The regulatory environment is also complicating cybersecurity, especially the political discussions around consumer privacy. The European Union recently implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) framework, creating more hurdles for companies to ensure they can do business without incurring hefty fines. The security mandates of regulatory agreements like the GDPR require all companies to be held to a higher standard, which can translate into more complications for SMBs and startups in the short term. In the long term, the virtual environment would likely be safer for everyone involved. However, there is a balance that must be achieved between protecting the consumer and offering that same consumer the choice of new business.

Lack Of IT Talent

A critical challenge of cybersecurity is the lack of qualified professionals to do the job. There are many people on the low end of the cybersecurity spectrum with generic skills. Security Experts who know how to protect companies from sophisticated hackers are rare. Those who know how to get things done understand how in-demand they are. When they work, they charge fees that most smaller enterprises cannot afford. Only the biggest and richest companies in the world can afford these elite-level services, another hurdle that SMBs have to overcome to compete online.

Types of Cyber Security

Cybersecurity covers is a wide subject matter. Below, we will go through the core types of cybersecurities. A holistic strategy includes all of these aspects and overlooks none.

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Critical Infrastructure

The critical infrastructure of the world functions as a cyber-physical hybrid.

Everything from hospitals to water purification plants to the electricity grid are now plugged into the online world and digitized. We gain many advantages from this super-structure. Putting a system online, however, also creates new vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks and hacking. When a company first connects itself to the physical and then digital world, the first infrastructure it plugs itself into is the critical infrastructure.

Company decision-makers must include this perspective into their plan on how attacks might affect their functionality. If a company does not have a contingency plan, it should create one immediately.

Network Security

The security of a network protects a company against unauthorized access and intrusions. Proper security over a network can also find and destroy internal threats to the system as well.

Effective implementation of network security often requires some compromise and trade-offs. For instance, extra logins help to protect a company’s information from unauthorized access, but it also slows down company productivity. One of the significant problems of network security is that it uses a lot of company resources.

Network security tools generate huge amounts of data. Even if a network security system finds a threat, it might slip through the cracks, ignored, due to the sheer volume of data that’s being produced. IT teams are now using machine learning to automate the identification of legitimate security threats, thereby reducing human error. But it’s far from a perfect system.

Cloud Security

Cloud security is a set of policies, controls, and procedures, combined with technologies that work together to protect data, infrastructure, and cloud-based systems.

They are specific security measures which are configured to protect a customer’s privacy, guard data, support regulatory compliance, and also sets authentication rules for devices and users. This means anything from filtering traffic, authenticating access, and configuring cloud security for specific client needs. It’s mobile since it’s configured and managed in one location, and frees up businesses to focus resources on other security needs.

Application Security

Many of the best modern hackers find web application security the weakest point to attack an organization.

It’s hard to keep up with them due to the proliferation of new relationships with apps companies have which are not yet properly vetted and secured. Application security starts with great coding, which is also challenging to find. After attaining secure coding practices, penetration testing and fuzzing are the two other security practices every company should begin to implement now.

Internet of things (IoT) Security

The IoT is an important cyber-physical system in how online systems communicate. More specifically, IoT refers to a system of interrelated computing devices, which can be defined as mechanical and digital machines, or objects, animals or people which are given unique identifiers (UIDs) and become digitized in some capacity. It also refers to the distinct ability of this system to transfer data over a network without needing human-to-human or human-to-computer interactions.

IoT will only become more critical to business as time goes on. The Internet of Things will connect consumers in neighborhoods and neighborhoods to critical infrastructure in an unprecedented manner. In a few years, a hacker may open up and exploit someone’s refrigerator or choose to shut down electricity to an entire town – if we are not careful. Today, IoT devices often are shipped to consumers in an insecure state. There are many devices that have no patching for security either, which makes them prime targets for botnets.

Developing a Cyber Security Strategy

Every strategy should be custom-designed. A cybersecurity strategy that works for one company will not necessarily be effective for another. It’s different for every entity based on their specific needs and vulnerabilities.

However, there are some overarching themes that you can take into account regardless of your company size, scope, or industry.

Understanding risks to critical business operations

Cybersecurity is constantly becoming more complex. Organizations must have a ‘security vision’ about what cybersecurity means to their operations. This includes generating an acceptable level of risk and prioritizing areas to target for the majority of security investments.

Integrating the strategy across departments

A good security strategy must work across all the security measures that a company already has in place. Companies should intervene smartly in crucial areas to close off backdoors and improve overall security.

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Deter the threats on the inside

Many of the backdoors and vulnerabilities that doom a company to cyber victimhood begin from an internal problem. A part of every cybersecurity package should include internal monitoring to prevent insiders from using their access maliciously. Protective monitoring also helps a company to differentiate between insider attacks that are purposeful or accidental.

Plan for breaches ahead of time

Understand that hackers are always one step ahead of the curve in security. No matter how good your defenses may be, they will be breached at some point in time. Instead of waiting in fear for the inevitable, prepare for it. Boost your disaster recovery and business continuity metrics so that when something does happen, you can return to normal functionality as quickly as possible.

With the basics of cybersecurity covered, should a company now feel relaxed with their new insights into protections? Not at all. Cybersecurity means remaining eternally vigilant in a constantly moving digital ecosystem. The solutions that work today will not work tomorrow. Hackers will have figured out something else by then, and they will be at your front door with even more powerful executions.

Here is a cybersecurity checklist to get you started:

  • Put Policies and Procedures in Place
  • Ensure Gateway Security
  • Have End Point Security
  • Implement Identity and Access Management
  • Implement Multi-Factor Authentication
  • Get Mobile Protection, Remote Access, and Virtual Private Networks
  • Have Wireless Network Security
  • Back up and Disaster Recovery
  • Provide Employee Security Awareness Training

Reduce Your Cybersecurity Risk

It’s imperative to use the best practices and tips mentioned above as a starting point to ensure that you’re moving in the right direction. It can literally mean the difference between life and death for your business. Or save you millions in legal fees that can come along with doing e-Commerce unsafely. Don’t allow the trust that your customers have placed in you to be threatened or breached. And that’s exactly you need to invest in smart cybersecurity services today.