What You Need To Know About The Growing Threat Of Cyber Attacks

The threat of cyber attacks is proliferating, and cyber security has become one of the top priorities for every organization around the globe. Cyber attackers try to break into systems, steal information, send spam emails, disrupt networks, destroy data, or cause any number of other malicious actions. 

While some cyber crimes are for profit, others are simply out of spite or frustration. These attacks can cause severe damage to businesses, causing them to shut down or pay hefty fines. Cyber attacks affected 53 million people in the U.S. within the first half of 2022. They not only cause financial losses but can also lead to reputational damage. The rising number of such episodes means that companies must proactively protect themselves from cybercrime.

They should start preparing to prevent or minimize the impact of such attacks by investing in cybersecurity solutions like encryption software and firewalls. A comprehensive approach to cybersecurity combines prevention, detection, response, and recovery capabilities. 

What Are the Costs?

Direct and indirect costs are two primary ways a company might suffer financially from a cyberattack. While direct costs involve actual expenditures made to fix a problem, indirect costs refer to any expenses incurred due to a breach, such as loss of reputation and brand image. These costs could range anywhere from $0 to billions depending on the scope of the problem. According to IBM, the average data breach cost in 2022 is $4.35 million

How Can I Protect My Business from Cyber Attacks?

Regardless of how much money a business loses, it’s always prudent to implement certain precautions to protect yourself against these threats. A company should conduct regular audits of its own IT infrastructure to ensure it’s patched correctly and updated regularly. Furthermore, businesses must ensure that no unauthorized users access sensitive files and data. 

Companies should educate their staff about cybersecurity awareness and take steps to reduce the likelihood of human errors. Finally, organizations must keep software patches up to date and create policies to prevent employees from accessing sensitive information outside of work hours.

How To Create A Robust Cyber-Security Strategy

Protecting private information, intellectual property, brand reputation, and financial and operational data are critical to any company’s success. A robust cyber-security strategy should encompass the physical protection of network devices and infrastructure, the people who use them, and their training.

1. Understand the Risks

The first step to any security program is understanding where the threats lie. 93% of company networks are prone to cyber-attacks. Knowing your business model will help determine various things, including what attacks your company will fall victim to.  Organizations should assess their systems in terms of vulnerabilities at least once a year. 

The goal of the assessment should be to determine what security controls are necessary and how they can best protect against potential threats. A thorough evaluation of your systems will enable you to identify possible threats that could expose your business to loss, damage your brand reputation, or compromise your customers’ privacy.

You can hire a third party to perform standard penetration tests or invest in software solutions that monitor and detect potential threats. 

2. Identify the Assets

Once you understand the scope of the problem, define who owns the systems and what they do. Companies can document the business processes and identify the people involved. Assets are anything that the organization relies on for its operation. Once identified, the organization can develop policies and procedures for controlling access to the asset. These policies and practices protect the asset from unauthorized use and abuse.

Industries dealing with sensitive information should ensure they have appropriate security measures. If your company handles any data about credit card numbers, social security numbers, patient records, and financial transactions, you should consider getting a cyber-security plan 

3. Enforce the Policy

If proper security policies exist, then the final step is enforcing them. Policies can range from restricting physical access to the company building to limiting employees’ time on personal devices or checking email. There is no universal set of rules, but there are some guidelines that can help ensure compliance with existing policies. Policies should include developing three core capabilities;

  1. Firewalls– Provide comprehensive packet inspection capabilities that offer granular control over how traffic enters the enterprise. 
  2. Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS)- Detect malicious code such as viruses, worms, and Trojans and alert administrators. 
  3. Secure Web Gateways – Ensure that users’ interactions with applications are safe and secure. When properly configured, they can prevent unauthorized access to websites.

These foundational technologies make up a layered defense. In addition, use a suite of tools that monitor and report on the status of these technologies and maintain visibility of where employees interact with technology. Organizations that regularly train their employees in security awareness are less likely to suffer a breach than organizations that do not.

4. Implement a Multi-Layered Approach

There are many ways to secure your network and IT system. Many companies use the following methods:

  • Physical access controls: These devices allow authorized employees to gain physical access to your network or computer systems.
  • Password management: These programs manage passwords and prevent users from sharing them.
  • Network access control: Network access control restricts external access to your internal networks.
  • Anti-malware software: Anti-malware software detects malware before it infects your computers.

Include additional layers of protection in your operating systems, applications, and devices. Security experts recommend adding two layers of defense at a minimum; antivirus software and firewalls. 

You should review and evaluate these tools and keep them up-to-date. Consider investing in endpoint and network protection products that allow granular control over user permissions, policies, and alerts.

5. Investigate the Breach

Once you identify the threat, the next step is investigating it. An investigation should involve reviewing the evidence and analyzing the incident. An organization must collect data about the incident to investigate the incident properly. 

The collected information should include the nature of the breach, when it occurred, and how the attack occurred. A log management system provides centralized storage and analysis of all logs, and security analytics can help to correlate events and flag issues.

6. Respond to the Breach

After collecting the data, the organization should respond appropriately. An effective response should address the issue and provide recommendations for preventing future incidents. As part of the response, the organization should notify the affected individuals, update the employee directory, contact law enforcement, and take measures to increase security.

Strengthen Your Cyber Security with Contego

Contego offers a free service that evaluates your computer security posture based on industry best practices and your organization’s objectives. We understand what’s involved in protecting your data and aim to help businesses know what they are exposed to in cyberspace and take appropriate action.

Contego’s security experts will provide you with a better understanding of your network security posture and a plan to address any gaps or weaknesses. Contact us at (866) 331-3393 to book your free cyber threat assessment.