Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
By Imran Ahmad
This is the first article of a two part series dealing with what businesses can do in the face of growing cyber threats. Next month, we will cover how businesses should respond in the case of a successful cyber attack.
Increasingly, reports of cyber attacks on businesses have been making the headlines. The numbers speak for themselves:
While these numbers are alarming and underscore the fact that cyber threats are increasingly sophisticated, frequent and cause real damage to businesses, the fact is that this trend is expected to continue and will likely amplify in the coming years.
In other words, it’s a question of “when” and not “if” your business will be the target of a cyber attack. However, precautionary steps can be taken to limit the potential damage (both monetary and reputational) associated with a successful cyber attack. Here are a few key things businesses can undertake to limit the chances of being a victim of a cyber attack.
In order to prepare adequately for potential cyber threats, map out your business’ networks and IT systems, including a clear understanding of what the key business functions are, as well as where the business’ critical data (i.e., the business’ “Crown Jewels”) resides and how they are protected. Consider encrypting all critical data and limit your employees’ network privileges to only those required for them carry out their duties.
Communication and coordination between different departments is critical to effectively counter cyber threats. Consider building a team consisting of knowledgeable managers and professionals (internal and external) who will meet regularly to asses threat levels, discuss how to address gaps and make recommendations to management on how to protect the business’ digital assets. The team should not be limited to or be the sole responsibility of your IT department – rather, the team should also include legal, business and c-suite executives. Care should be taken in putting together the team by ensuring that the right people are around the table and that the team’s mandate and deliverables are clear.