Cybercrime damages are expected to cost businesses an enormous $6 trillion annually by 2021, and as cyber-threats become more frequent and sophisticated, the stakes are getting higher. Now, more than ever, it has become crucial for businesses of all sizes to implement a security strategy that delivers around the clock. All organisations should be operating under the knowledge that cyber-crime isn’t only reserved for the biggest names in the business.
100% uptime is now a necessity, not a bonus, as the majority of companies are on their digital transformation journey. So, the construction and implementation of a complete cyber-security strategy to ensure this is achievable should be a matter of priority that is engaged with across the entire company.
The initial challenge is in actually understanding and recognising the need for a robust strategy that is supported by technology to protect increasingly digitised business operations. If the best cyber-security strategy is one with many strings to its bow, where do you start, and what should it include? Here are my six steps to complete cyber-security-satisfaction:
- Recognise the urgency
It’s not only the IT team’s responsibility to ensure all systems and applications across the company are functioning securely. Any discussion around implementing proactive prevention of cyber-security vulnerabilities should be attended by board-level executives and treated as a top business priority.
More often than not, security strategies are considered a large investment with little measurable return. However, the reality is that the actual cost of downtime, repairs and damaged reputation can be catastrophic to a business. All business owners should be looking to ensure that they mitigate the risk of all of these costly failures by being proactive rather than purely reactive with their cyber-security strategy.
- Prepare your people
Human errors are often considered to be the biggest threat and “weakest link” when it comes to online security and data protection in the workplace. Without appropriate training and education, people and businesses can fall victim to cyber-attacks. Because of this, every business should look to integrate cyber-security in the everyday working lives of employees as part of their wider cyber-security strategy.
It’s key for businesses to implement solid cyber-security training for employees. One top tip is to avoid dreary seminars and PowerPoint presentations, and instead give practical, accessible advice about recognising cyber attacks and how to prevent them. Get creative and think of ways to incentivise security awareness with competitions, ethical hacking and focussing on the individual’s vital and ongoing role in cybersecurity. Even by understanding phishing attacks, promoting safe password management and protecting sensitive information, employees can make more informed decisions about potential security risks, and this will go a long way to keeping your business robust and resilient.
- Deploy proactive prevention
Once the importance of this strategy has been realised, it is vital to think about what practical preventative steps you can take to stop any disasters from happening. Often, proactivity gets overlooked for a reactive approach, but both should be thought about in parallel for optimum security and IT resilience.
Organisations can ensure they are protected now more than ever before, not least because there are better technologies available for real effective prevention of cyber threats. Businesses should be researching the tools and applications that are designed to track, monitor and react — and importantly, solutions that will intelligently integrate with your IT infrastructure.
Intrusion detection systems (IDS) is one such proactive technology, which is a piece of hardware or virtual appliance that monitors a network for any malicious activity or violations of agreed policies. If implemented properly, this technology will ensure that, in the event of an incoming cyber-threat, the activity can be immediately reported to the service provider where a dedicated security team can take the appropriate and pre-agreed actions.
To ensure your organisation is utilising the best security technology, making use of an MSP, who has a team of experts to seamlessly manage it all and who can offer the best solutions, may be the safest route if you are unsure.
- Determine your disaster recovery (DR) needs
Businesses should also be looking at what they will need in the event of a disaster occurring, as well as prevention and detection. There are a few considerations to make before selecting a technology or solution for the DR element of your cyber-security strategy.
Firstly, businesses should identify their most critical systems, applications and types of data in relation to business operations through a risk assessment. Risk assessments and business impact analyses help to simplify the process and move the DR strategy in the right direction. For example, a business that follows any certified accreditation would include it as part of business continuity planning.
Additionally, recovery objectives will help to provide an estimate of the time it will take to bring a business back up to speed in the event of a disaster. A Recovery Point Objective (RPO) defines the point a business can return to in a server’s timeline after a disaster. With daily backups, for example, the maximum RPO would be 24 hours. A Recovery Time Objective (RTO) sets out how long it takes to recover from a situation such as a full data centre disaster. These considerations ensure you know exactly where you stand with your DR strategy, and ensure it can be implemented efficiently, and with peace of mind.
- Compare your DR options
Now that you have found what you need from the important DR element of your overall cyber security strategy, you should look into the physical technologies and options that are available.
One of the most sophisticated disaster recovery solutions available is ‘hot DR’, which replicates and synchronises an organisation’s entire system architecture, data storage and applications to a secondary data centre. If a disaster occurs, the failover system switches the company’s DNS to the DR site, enabling the business to continue serving staff and customers. In the event of a catastrophic disaster at the production site, the DR site takes over as the production site.
It is worth bearing in mind that the cloud has had a significant effect on DR, especially if, like many businesses, you are utilising a cloud-first approach. By increasing performance and reliability, while lowering running costs, cloud services have made DR more accessible and affordable. While utilising the cloud for your DR strategy can be a great idea, without proper management it can get a bit complicated. Managed cloud providers are enabling companies to focus on their business and not be distracted by complex IT. This enables in-house IT teams to focus more on strategic activities and providing the infrastructure, data centre and support needed to run the business.
- Get your hosting provider to wrap it all up
Equipped with your new-found understanding of your business requirements and the technologies and solutions available to you, next is about learning how to implement this efficiently, easily and without delay.
Working with an MSP provides ease of management, scalability and complete integration, and so can often be the answer to solidifying your crucial security strategy. By utilising a reliable MSP, companies can put all of the technologies to good use, and deploy excellent cyber-defences through a security-as-a-service model.
Managed service providers are well-placed to deliver the right cyber-security solutions for businesses to minimise risk and downtime, since they have so much focus on their own platforms, networks and performance. Your hosting provider should back-up the promise of 100% uptime and go beyond expected standards to ensure your business is “always-on”.
In an age where cyber attacks are becoming more sophisticated as well as frequent, it’s become absolutely critical for IT managers to choose the right MSP. Doing so can be the difference between being vulnerable to an attack, and having a securely managed and monitored environment for critical data. The right MSP will provide a team of experts who are on-hand 24/7 and ensure your advanced cybersecurity strategy can be remotely managed using the latest tools and technologies. Ultimately, this will ensure the safety of your ever more valuable and increasingly vulnerable business and user data.