Cyber security has become incredibly vital to businesses of all sizes and in all industries. Just because you have a startup or a small business doesn’t mean you’re immune from hackers, viruses, and other types of cyber terrorism. In fact, smaller companies are often targeted because hackers assume they will have a much easier time stealing data because these companies assume hackers will go after bigger targets. That’s why it’s important for business owners of all types and sizes of businesses to understand the four essential cyber threat management tools and how to implement them in order to get the most effective protection possible.
Software such as antivirus programs, firewalls, and anti-malware tools is often the first line of defense against viruses and hackers. These programs are quite effective at preventing cyber-attacks as long as you keep them updated. If you allow your tools to fall out of date, they won’t have the latest information about viruses, malware, and other tools hackers may use to break into your system. These tools can then easily slip into your network.
But your tools do more than just protect your system. They also analyze and gather information about new threats. This information can be sent back to the software developers and incorporated into the next update, allowing all systems to know about these new threats and how to defeat them. This helps antivirus developers stay right behind cyber-terrorists. Since it’s often impossible to predict new viruses and malware, the next best thing is to update these programs as soon as possible.
While some large businesses do spend thousands on new software to protect their network, that’s not an option for smaller companies. Fortunately, there are a number of free and open source cyber threat management tools out there that will protect your system just as well as more expensive tools. Any type of organization can make use of these tools to defend networks from viruses and other attacks.
The second tool for managing cyber threats works hand-in-hand with antivirus software. While those programs protect your system from dangers from without, education and training helps you protect your network from accidental attacks from within. Employees, no matter how well-meaning they may be, may accidentally allow threats into your network.
Discussing security challenges once with your employees simply isn’t enough. Instead, you need to make certain that employees at every level of the company, from the lowest assistant to the CEO, understand all of the various threats that you could face and how to deal with them. Everyone needs to be aware of what can happen if they accidentally open an email attachment from an untrustworthy source or click on a link to a phishing website. By having meaningful discussions and training at regular intervals, employees will continue to learn about cyber-security and keep up-to-date on new threats.
This training needs to begin when a new employee joins your team. Then they should have refresher courses and updated training whenever new threats are discovered or new software is introduced.
3. A Cyber-Security Team
In addition to having knowledgeable employees, you also need to have a crack cyber-security team to make sure your software is up-to-date and to oversee training. Your IT staff should be intelligent, motivated, and dependable. They should constantly be researching new threat intelligence tools and learning about the latest cyber-terrorist attacks.
Your cyber-security team is going to be the first to respond to any type of cyber-attack. They need to be trained on what to do, who to contact, and what appropriate methods to take to make certain all information is secured, the network is protected, and all threats are identified and handled appropriately.
One important part of having a strong cyber-security team is having an appropriate IT budget. Many CFOs and others don’t understand the importance of continually investing in cyber-defense programs, training, and updates. It’s not enough to simply invest once in these things and they update them every few years. Because cyber-terrorism is constantly evolving, IT teams need to have the funding necessary to keep up with changes.
4. Policies and Procedures
While having trained employees, updated software, and a well-funded IT staff is all necessary to protect your network, you need well-written cyber-security policies to make certain that the three tools work together in an efficient manner. If you don’t have these policies, it’s possible you’ll have redundancies, wasted money and resources, and even conflicts.
Your cyber-security policies need to cover everything from employees bringing their own devices into the office to how often updates are done. You need to make certain it outlines all of the responsibilities employees have for protecting your data, including cyber security tips such as using strong passwords and knowing how to verify links and attachments. You also need to include rules regarding what employees may not do, including which sites you want blacklisted.
You should always write your cyber-security policies with the idea that you will be hacked. By approaching these policies with the idea that it will happen, you’re more likely to cover all of your bases. Unfortunately, as hackers prey more and more on smaller businesses, it’s becoming more likely that you will need these policies. Your team should know who in the business to contact when data has been stolen, what you’ll do to protect the rest of your information, and how you will handle the stolen information. This includes how you’ll discuss the theft of any sensitive customer data with the customers and with the media in general.
By incorporating these four tools into your business, you’ll be prepared for when you’re attacked by a virus, malware, or hacker. Remember, every business is at risk from malicious individuals. Even if no one is actively trying to hack into your system, your employees can accidentally download a virus or open a piece of malware. By having the right tools, a trained IT staff, knowledgeable employees, and well-written policies to bring them all together, you stand a much better chance at protecting your data.