Cybersecurity is far more than just preventing people clicking on attached malware these days. From an organisational point of view, keeping your digital assets safe is probably one of the most important tasks you and your company will ever undertake. What’s more, it’s an ongoing effort. Constant vigilance and updated protocols are the only way of staying ahead of the threats. And there’s one overriding lesson that most people forget. When you eventually become a target, it is your response that matters the most.

Cybersecurity defined

Using the widest definition, cybersecurity refers to physical, technological and educational measures you put in place to prevent unauthorised access to your electronic assets. These assets include data, devices, services, or any kind of computerised systems.

It’s difficult to understand the tremendous scope encompassed by such a broad definition. If you have something stored or processed as zeros and ones, it exists on some kind of infrastructure. That infrastructure, whether physical or virtual, remains vulnerable as long as it’s worth something. In a world where data is touted as the most valuable resource, protecting that information is paramount.

Your plan must include…having a proper plan

It’s all very well and good to have the top people, the best hardware and the latest information. The fact remains that many organisations are grossly unprepared for a cybersecurity incident. Thus, they are unlikely to be able to react in a conducive manner.

Preparedness begins with a solid prevention, reaction and follow-up plan. A properly thought-out and communicated plan means that you and your colleagues are on the same page. Any actions triggered by an incident are therefore congruent within your organisation. This means that you’re all working together towards the resolution. Consequently, your actions are not only faster, but your personnel won’t waste time pondering the next step or working at a tangent to one another.

A 2018 survey by PwC confirmed why proper planning is so essential. More than half of CEOs surveyed expressed concern that their business was vulnerable due to outdated planning. What’s more, the concerns expressed went beyond simple fears. 65% of the same individuals also indicated they had experienced a cybersecurity crisis within the 3 preceding years.

Be swift and decisive

This is why you should have a plan drilled into your personnel as a key point.

Once the plan for the worst is complete, the next step is inevitably bringing the team together once an incident occurs. This reactive force will ideally include representatives from all of your departments. The reason for this? So that you keep every department in the loop and let them know how the situation might affect them. Never overlook the need for internal as well as external communication.

Identifying the source of the incident is the next step. Waiting too long means you’re likely to lose valuable insight as to the vector and responsible party. Once you’ve done this, make sure you secure your network, infrastructure and data. This is to mitigate the effects the incident might cause.

Finally, prepare a comprehensive information package for any affected external entities. Your clients need to be notified if any of their data or systems have been compromised, and this needs to include the steps you have taken to restore functionality, recover the status quo and prevent the incident from recurring.

The one thing you need to avoid at all costs is silence. While encouraging people to talk at length about the issue may seem like the creation of unnecessary noise, it is in fact the opposite. Letting people express themselves leads to venting of frustration and the continuation of engagement about the issue.

What you can do to safeguard yourself and your clients

Cybersecurity permeates all levels of an organisation, from senior management all the way out to the end of both the supply and client chains. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are several factors that should be implemented at all times.

For starters, you and your colleagues should be aware of the various vulnerabilities that exist. This enables you to better recognise them and respond to them. For example, you can prevent software bugs from leaving you vulnerable by updating and patching your systems consistently. You can tackle misconfigured software and devices through ongoing review and cross-checking. Furthermore, you can prevent a potentially disastrous human element by constantly training and evaluating your staff on cybersecurity policies and your response plan.

Use both tools and people

You should also consider investing in proper tools to mitigate or fend off the negative consequences of cybersecurity threats. Devices such as next-generation firewalls and thorough data backup and disaster recovery systems may appear to be frivolous and expensive. When you weigh that against the amount of consequences they shield you from, however, they begin to make a lot of sense. This is especially true when you consider that, not only are threats becoming more numerous, they’re also becoming more sophisticated.

Finally, you should always have your teams testing the efficacy and limitations of the systems you have in place. Ideally, you will have one team going on the offensive, seeing if those same systems can be compromised, while another team will try to prevent the intrusion or any associated damages. This is the “wargames” paradigm, and it remains a test as close to a real incident as possible. As such, it’s an ideal method for finding and fixing any cybersecurity shortcomings.

Adept has been a trusted provider of cybersecurity solutions for well over a decade. Our clients trust us to keep their data and systems safe from intrusion and harm, using best-practice technologies and people skills honed over many years.