Today cyber crimes are increasing for businesses of all sizes. The attacks can be catastrophic, but businesses that maintain robust safeguards are unappealing targets. When cyber criminals come across them they look elsewhere, for weaker prey. That is why it is vital that every business assess its cybersecurity risks, in order to take effective steps to strengthen protections. Here are five essential ways to perform that kind of proactive risk assessment.
1. Review Employee Protocols
The Small Business Administration (SBA) emphasizes that many cyber attacks happen due to a lack of basic training and everyday awareness. So begin by surveying employees. Find out what security protocols they follow, and look for gaps and flaws. Explore staff knowledge regarding how to detect suspicious email phishing that can install invasive malware. Is antivirus software up-to-date? Are passwords strong enough and frequently changed? The Department of Homeland Security also offers cybersecurity brochures and posters for the workplace. Download and take advantage of them to raise team awareness.
2. Evaluate Payment Processing
Assessing cybersecurity for one’s own business is only part of the process. Extend that assessment to evaluate the security of vendors who handle potentially sensitive data. Find out if payment processing vendors use encryption, tokenization, and are fully PCI compliant. How often is that data backed-up? Is it safely stored in the cloud, using state-of-the-art security measures? Unsecure vendors and partners often provide criminals with a backdoor entryway to hack into an unsuspecting business. Payment processors hold the most valuable keys to that backdoor, and need to be extremely and cautiously vetted.
3. Check Physical Access
Physical access should be evaluated. It remains one of the preferred methods for cyber thieves to exploit businesses and walk away with a treasure trove of business assets. Or they can simply steal a laptop from an employee or access it whenever it’s left unattended and unlocked. Businesses need to verify that administrative network privileges are highly restricted, and that only authorized personnel have access to IT resources. All of these access opportunities need to be analyzed and tightened during a thorough assessment.
4. Troubleshoot Response Plans
Team drills should be conducted, too. The objective is to discover whether or not staff members know who to alert in case of suspicious cyber activity, and who to call if there’s a breach. System administrators and IT personnel also need to know what immediate steps to take to re-secure a business after a hack. Create a vigorous response plan, and review it every few months to ensure that it covers any new and emerging threats.
5. Engage Cybersecurity Experts
Add the National Cyber-Forensics & Training Alliance to the list of go-to assessment resources. They are devoted to cyber threat mitigation. The FBI should be another cybersecurity assessment partner, because they have a wealth of threat intelligence and strategic support. StaySafeOnline is the website of the National Cyber Security Alliance, a nonprofit that provides education to businesses and individuals regarding cybersecurity best practices. The organization hosts cybersecurity events both offline and online, and participation in these can be a valuable cybersecurity assessment asset. The SBA also offers similar cybersecurity events and resources.
By leveraging these tips and resources it’s possible to conduct an expert assessment and remain well-protected at all times.