How do we stop the attacks and the infections?
That is the question of the times really. They are happening more often, and they are more sophisticated and cunning than ever so the questions are what can be done about these Cyber Threats. In my experience, it is extremely difficult to stop the attacks all together, and the costs to your small and medium businesses can be high to manage these threats. But the cost to your business if you do get hit are going to be higher, much higher. Just how valuable is your data? How valuable is your reputation? If all your systems are down how much is that costing your business every day or every hour?
We have seen a significant increase in the amount of virus activity and ran some ware attacks. The media coverage is continuing to grow in this space all the time with articles hitting mainstream media and not just the technical sites. Just two examples;
The hackers are using social engineering to get access to systems. Leveraging trusted brands and sources such as the ATO and Australia Post to cover as legitimate messages, even to the point where they are specifically addressed with your personal information, all gathered from what you already have online in your Facebook and Twitter accounts. It is scary to think how specific and targeted the attacks are becoming, but more so the scale and speed of which they are coming at.
Where to start?
The amount of information out there can be overwhelming when it comes to protecting your business from Cyber Threats and working through what to use where can be just as challenging. The place to start is to identify exactly what you are trying to protect. Identify this and then work outwards.
Wrap a ring of protection around this and start moving out and looking at the different layers and how each of these layers relates to what it is you are trying to protect.
For most businesses, it is data and everything from word and excel files to contact details and financial information. You need to know what it is you are trying to protect and where it is.
A straight forward approach
Keep the process as simple as possible. There are many complexities in delivering the protection measures but keeping the process simple will help ensure things are very clear. We have identified the 4 Key areas that small and medium businesses need to focus on when working through security and assessing cyber threat risks;
- Data – What is it and Where is. Secure your data with permissions, backup and disaster recovery and anti-virus tools
- Identity – Who is accessing your data. Have measures in place to manage your user accounts, passwords and authentication methods
- Gateway – Where is data entering and existing your systems. Everything is connected to the Internet, how much protection is at this gateway point. Understand and Control these entry points
- Remote Access – How are staff, clients and partners accessing your data from outside of your organisation. How is data that is leaving the system protected and secured?
While there are four key areas to focus on within your business, you need a plan. A plan that will help you identify in each area the risks to your business, but to also ensure that you are able to keep doing business. Security measures can go too far and can stop a business being effective. There is a very fine line to being secure, but maintaining your flexibility. Using best practice and best of breed technology is a given, but you need to ensure that these are deployed in the most effective manner, providing the best value to your business and being leverage as best as possible.
I have witnessed security systems be implemented that costs hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, requires so much overhead to maintain that it becomes unsustainable and the outcomes severely limited he capability of the business. This was a lesson well observed on what NOT to do!
Yes, investment will be required. Yes, maintenance and monitoring will be required. However, it can be achieved cost effectively for most businesses while using frameworks that are based on international standards. With the increasing threat to our clients and the wider businesses network, I have been working hard to formalise a framework that will provide insight and results to protect businesses.
The framework is structured around the following 5 principles
- Identify – Identify the core risk areas to your business in each of the 4 key areas listed above.
- Protect – Implement protection measures that are targeted at your biggest risk areas
- Detect – Monitor the environment to detect where appropriate attempts to compromise your systems
- Respond – In the event something does happen, have response processes in place
- Recover – Have recovery methods in place for your worst case scenarios, disaster recovery and business continuity
Cyber Threats and Cyber Security are critical for all business â small, medium and large â and it is vital that it is taken seriously. It can start with something small like a ransomware on a single computer, WiFI being hacked and you internet allowance being used. But what if it is something more significant? Can your business respond to such and incident? More importantly, can your business recover?
If you would like to know more, I would be more than happy to talk wish you and give your some strategies to implement in your business. Simply start by taking our 45 second Security Assessment to find out where you are at.