When it comes to an organization’s security posture, company leaders can never be too careful. The threat landscape is getting increasingly complex each day. Bad actors devise new ways to breach proprietary information, steal login credentials, and damage organizational reputation.
Robust cybersecurity risk assessments are as important now as they ever have been. But should organizations adopt a proactive or reactive approach to cybersecurity?
Let’s dive deeper into this topic so you can better understand what’s at stake — and how best to protect your organization against cyber threats.
Understanding Proactive Cybersecurity
Proactive cybersecurity involves establishing security measures to prevent cyberattacks and having a prepared response plan. It aims to thwart potential threats and mitigate damage in case of an attack.
IT providers stay knowledgeable about what tactics cyberattackers use, provide regular user training, and continuously monitor systems for vulnerabilities. They also ensure advanced security software and firewalls are put in place. A proactive approach is a defensive approach.
Some advantages of adopting a proactive security stance include:
- Early threat detection and prevention before issues arise.
- Stronger security posture by ensuring cyber security preparedness.
- Minimized cyber incidents implications for the company, employees and clients.
- If a cyberattack occurs, the IT provider has a better position to react to cybercriminals.
- Companies are in a better position for a possible PCI DSS compliance audit.
Strategies for implementing a proactive approach to cybersecurity:
- Continuous monitoring from IT staff, ensuring that someone is dedicated to overseeing the work.
- Regular cybersecurity risk assessments (information security risk assessment) and audits of a company including work processes.
- A cybersecurity program to increase awareness for company employees.
- Ongoing training, certifications/professional development for IT provider staff.
- Maintaining software updates regularly.
Why The Cyber security Risk Assessment Matrix Matters?
A cybersecurity risk assessment is a complete analysis of the company’s security status and how the company runs. The assessment entails analyzing computers, networking, cloud, firewalls and organization systems as well as looking at the human components of the business that impact security.
This thorough assessment informs how likely the company can protect its information assets during security incidents. A cybersecurity risk assessment is a no- cost no -risk assessment for the company being analyzed.
To simplify the process, this cybersecurity risk assessment can be compartmentalized into three steps:
Step 1: Scan
Run multiple scans on all the computers, servers, hardware and cloud environments within a company. At 4BIS we run a full inventory scan of all devices and servers. This gives us a baseline of installed software , the age of the systems and hardware health.
We run an auditing tool on every computer to review if working and security systems are up-to-date. These device audits show how easily a criminal could gain access to passwords. They also demonstrate how hackers could further penetrate a network if they gained access through a single endpoint (piece of hardware).
To create an effective report, we summarize the key findings and vulnerabilities identified during the assessment. It lists identified risks and threats on all assessed systems, networks, and processes, categorized based on their severity and potential impact.
Our cybersecurity standards follow the guidelines set out by NIST. NIST assessments are widely used by government agencies, private organizations, and cybersecurity professionals to keep information systems secure and resilient.
Step 2: Analyze
The human side of risk assessment involves interviewing key employees to find out their role technology use, and the company’s business functions.
We also look at the organization’s financial operations. How does customer invoicing work? How about bills payment Is it difficult for a criminal to get into the business bank accounts?And what protections, policies and procedures do they have to prevent fraud?
Email is one of the most common tactics for criminals to gain access to a network. So, we run scans on Office 365 and/or Google workspaces. The goal is to learn how those systems are configured and being used.
We want to make sure that systems can be locked down if necessary, during a cybersecurity attack. The scans also bring out what PII (Personally Identifiable Information) is on the network and where a criminal could find this information.
Most companies recognize that their PII data is stored on the server, but don’t always consider that a lot of this data ends up on individual computers. For example, an HR person downloads a report off the cloud and stores it in a local folder.
Or a finance personnel runs reports for loan information, which ends up on someone’s laptop and is never deleted. This data is a gold mine to criminals; it’s worth a lot of money on the dark web. It can be enough information for a criminal to then get into the company’s bank accounts.
Large organizations have done a respectable job at locking down their organizations over the years. They have to deal with hacking and so they are the first to adapt pro-active tactics. They allocate large sums of money into securing their network against the most sophisticated attacks.
Cyber criminals hack to gain money. As large enterprises become harder to hack, criminals started looking towards hacking unprepared SMBs. Start securing your network beyond a firewall and antivirus software. Find out your weaknesses, protect your network, and don’t give those criminals a chance.
Step 3: Budget and Plan
Budget and plans are made to protect the organization. This last step post analysis is about developing a process and procedure. One that ensures business operations can function in case of an incident.
If you’ve worked hard and made sacrifices to build your company, why not protect it? Having proactive strategy and money allocated to these defenses are vital.
The Pitfalls of Reactive Cybersecurity
A reactive approach is a highly risky approach. It delays action. You’re waiting until there is an issue before preventing cyber fraud or responding to penetration testing (i.e, simulated attacks to assess system vulnerabilities).
Sometimes individuals hope or assume that money or data lost can be recovered. Unfortunately, this typically isn’t the case. I
If data is held ransom, sometimes some or all the data can be recovered. However, it’s usually costly and time consuming for an IT company to try to do so. There are also no guarantees of being able to recover anything.
Consequences of relying solely on a Reactive stance:
- Increased vulnerability to cyberattacks and cybersecurity risks.
- Higher recovery costs and downtime. Companies will spend much more to get data recovered, protect data and personal identifying information, and potentially pay for client’s data protection. Then, there’s downtime. How long can your company last financially without being able to work for a week or two?
- Irreversible damage to reputation and customer trust
Company leaders likely wait to work with an IT company until an event occurs. Many rely solely on anti-virus software. Common reasons for organizations adopting a reactive approach include:
- Budget constraints and resource limitations
- Complacency and underestimation of cyber risks
The Intersection of Proactive Approach and Cybersecurity Risk Assessment
Cybersecurity risk assessment results help find potential threats and implement a forward-thinking approach.
At 4BIS we believe in leveraging risk management and assessments so that companies, like yours, can prioritize their investments and minimize risk level . Integrating risk assessment into a proactive cybersecurity strategy is our specialty.+
Criminals are increasingly stealing money directly out of business bank accounts with wire transfers, writing fake checks and stealing invoices.
Run a cybersecurity risk assessment process, look at operations, and gain a snapshot of the organization’s cybersecurity health.
Working with the right IT company to run a cybersecurity analysis is the first step in a pro-active approach to safeguarding your business, company data, clients and employees.
To create a custom plan for identifying threats in your business, reach out to us at 4BIS to learn more.