Why proactive security hygiene and controls are more essential than ever

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There’s no way around it – ransomware and other cyber threats are an increasingly common occurrence for businesses of all sizes. Modern threat actors are more focused on the size of the opportunity for financial gain, rather than the size of the company, which can leave businesses that don’t have the appropriate proactive risk management measures in place vulnerable.

For small businesses, having strict cybersecurity hygiene and processes in place is essential to ensuring the company is prepared when, not if, a cyberattack takes place.

Having transformed Equifax’s security programme after experiencing cyber challenges first-hand, there are key fundamentals that all SMEs can implement to help minimise the risks to customers, employees, business information and profit margins.

Access management

Understanding the level of access that each team member and stakeholder has to your business helps prevent potential threat actors from forcing their way in through an open doorway to your business’s systems. This can be done by implementing simple software solutions that use intelligent analytics and data orchestration to verify the identity of users and customers.

Restricting administrative access and providing system users with tools and information about strong password management is another essential frontline protection against cyber-attacks.

Data encryption

Regularly backing up your business’s data and testing recovery processes can help minimise potential headaches in the event of a cyber breach. It’s equally as important to apply and manage encryption keys across resting and transit data, so business information remains safe and secure. For businesses looking to test and assess the cyber resilience of these data repositories, there are many programs and expert partners available to support making cybersecurity controls more transparent and convenient.

Multi-factor ID

Integrating multi-factor ID is a must-have for all user access. This is particularly pertinent as many small to medium businesses adopt remote and flexible workplace practices, and for team members that perform privileged actions with sensitive data. While using multi-factor ID may seem cumbersome during early implementation, this soon becomes a standard workplace process and adds a level of protection to ward off potential threats.

Board and executive-driven culture

A workplace culture of always-on cybersecurity awareness is best established when it’s driven by design from the top. Cyber protection should be a key concern for all board members, executive leadership, management and staff, not just chief information security officers.

As cyber adversaries continue to shift and improve their tactics, regular staff training will help employees to understand how hackers operate and navigate potential cyberattack scenarios. Taking key systems offline and simulating a period of downtime, awareness training, updating business cybersecurity playbooks and understanding which regulatory and crime prevention services to engage when cyberattacks occur are all great initiatives for boards and C-suite teams to champion to maintain good cybersecurity hygiene.

Cybersecurity investment

Shifting from performing risk impact assessments to threat impact assessments enables businesses to more accurately assess their position against cyber risks. Threat impact assessments are also useful in determining the level of investment required to maintain strong cyber protections. For SME leaders who are unsure of how much expenditure to allocate to security protections, it’s worth consulting a data and cybersecurity expert to help fortify your business.

There are multiple ways for a threat actor to gain access to your business, but there are many preventative measures that small businesses can take to protect themselves. Working with a partner that is well versed in cybersecurity hygiene measures and equipped to provide customisable solutions can put your business in good stead to protect against threat actors.