According to Cybersecurity Ventures, a leading researcher and publisher of global cyber economy facts and figures, increasingly more common cyberattacks will cost the world $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. That’s just two years away! This trend is propelling the cybersecurity industry to grow at an unprecedented rate and prompting an expansion of the definition of “cybersecurity” and all it now entails.
At its most basic level, cybersecurity is the broad term for the practice of protecting devices, networks, systems, programs, and data from cyberattacks. Cybercriminals (e.g., individuals, organizations or even nations) look to harm others through a variety of methods that typically include data theft, blocking access to files, or rendering important sites and networks unreachable, if not inoperable. A single security breach can cost millions of dollars to resolve, as well as damage customer confidence and tarnish a brand’s reputation.
To protect themselves from cybercrime, many organizations choose to have an in-house, dedicated team to defend their network. But that’s not always practical or affordable―even for large enterprises. A convenient and affordable option for other businesses is to partner with a Managed Security Services Provider, or MSSP. An MSSP can offer top of the line protection without the headache of hiring and maintaining a large security team. MSSPs run their own Security Operations Centers (SOC) that are dedicated to protecting their customers’ networks around the clock.
In either instance―in-house IT team or an MSSP―an enterprise cybersecurity strategy should address six potential pitfalls when it comes to protecting the network:
- Reduce the attack surface. Network vulnerabilities are everywhere. The attack surface includes the sum of all the different points where an unauthorized user or hacker can try to enter or extract data from the network. Reducing the attack surface involves identifying vulnerabilities, pinpointing user types, performing a risk assessment, and tightening protocols, like how users access the network.
- Raise employee awareness. Employees have an important role in protecting an organization from security threats, but they can only do so when they’ve been empowered with information, policies and expectations. These include protecting passwords; identifying and avoiding phishing attacks; and using safe browsing techniques.
- Use tools to monitor the network. With the sheer volume of cyberattacks that occur each hour, it’s imperative to rely on tools to help identify network threats and anomalies. Some examples include having an Intrusion Detection System (IDS), Security Incident or Event Management (SIEM) capabilities or a Data Loss Prevention (DLP) tool.
- Mitigate breaches when found. Tools are effective in identifying malicious attacks, but even more important than the tool itself is having the right professional expertise and resources for a quick response. As tools identify threats, skilled professionals must sift through alerts and determine which warrant immediate action as well as which action to take.
- Stop unauthorized access. Protecting a network from unauthorized access involves securing each layer of the network: the physical network layer (the physical components and devices; the technical layer (all the data stored on devices and the network); and the administrative layer (protocols that guide user behavior and verification).
- Enable the business to continue to operate unhindered under any circumstance. Whether in the cloud, on-premises, or a hybrid solution, having a clear and detailed backup plan is essential to business continuity and being able to access critical data, applications and systems in the event of a cyberattack. It’s equally important to determine how often to conduct backups, whether to encrypt and how long to retain incremental or full backups.
Learn more about how to deploy adequate cyber defenses to protect your business.