When it comes to cybersecurity, it's easy to feel like solution vendors are constantly exploiting your worst fears to sell you the latest and greatest solution you need to keep your business safe.
Have you recently completed a form or answered questions from your cyber insurance carrier? There was likely something in there about multi-factor authentication. And you probably agreed to ensure multi-factor authentication (MFA) is in place for certain types of users and network access.
It feels like the list of potential cyberthreats to your business are never-ending. You put the basic safeguards in place: firewalls, password policies, anti-virus protections, and so on. Beyond that, your cyber risks are in the hands of fate. Sure, anything is possible, but other priorities need your time and attention. We get it. You're inundated with requests for resources. IT requests, specifically cybersecurity requests, always seem to play on your fears and come with a worst-case scenario story of a business just like yours that lost it all in an attack. As a leader, you're focused on growth and moving forward. You can't get hung up in every what-if scenario, or you'd never get anywhere. Making fear-based decisions makes you feel stagnant, like you're investing in maintaining the status quo when you'd prefer to invest in moving forward. You know cybersecurity is important, but so is everything that comes across your desk, and there are only so many resources to go around.
It seems like some company is always trying to push you toward a new cybersecurity solution that your business just has to have to protect against data breaches and cyberattacks. You’ve already invested in cyber liability insurance, backup and disaster recovery solutions, anti-virus programs, and firewalls. At this point, it feels like new security products serve no other purpose than to profit from your worst fears of a cyberattack or data breach destroying your business. You’re right to avoid the snake oil salesman claiming his latest and greatest cybersecurity solution is everything you’ll ever need to protect your business from [ransomware, virus, or insert cyberthreat flavor of the month here]. That doesn’t change the fact that cyberthreats are very real and can cause severe damage to your business.
As a business owner, you have a lot on your mind as we all progress through the COVID-19 situation. Your workforce is probably broken up in ways you have never experienced before, and the way everyone is connecting to your resources may be less than ideal from a security perspective. This situation makes a comprehensive security awareness program more important than ever. A security awareness program promotes ownership of all employees over the safety of an organization's data and information systems. It also gives them skills to prevent and minimize data breaches and security incidents at the individual level. A comprehensive security awareness program includes three elements: Testing – Find out where your most significant security gaps lie. Training – Teach end-users how to identify and respond to suspicious emails. Reporting – Track improvements over time and identify areas for focus for the next round of testing and training. We are all doing what we have to do to survive this global pandemic, and security is taking a back seat for now. The problem is that now, more than ever, security needs to be a primary focus. Cyber-attacks are rising because criminals know that some of the typical defenses that businesses have in place are down or moved at the moment. In fact, FBI has reported a 400% increase in cyber-attacks during the pandemic.
You spend hundreds or thousands of dollars each year on anti-virus and threat prevention software for all the computers in your organization. As a result, you expect those devices are safe from viruses, ransomware, and other malware. But now you’re missing files, software programs are acting strange, or your entire system is frozen and you’ve received a ransom message. You’re frustrated, and maybe feel a little taken by your anti-virus vendor. Why have you been spending all this money on an anti-virus solution if you still have to deal with the ramifications of a virus or other malware?
Computers are the center of business and personal productivity in the 21st century. Users expect them to work as intended, on time, and without issue. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Viruses, or any type of malware (viruses are just one of several types of malware - more on that later), can at the least inconvenience users, and at worst cripple an entire business or organization. When trouble arises, average users may wonder if their computer is misbehaving. They might suspect malware has compromised their system, but don’t know how to confirm their suspicion.
You use password-protected applications for everything from banking and financial management to planning vacations and socializing. In the workplace, sign-in credentials connect you and your employees to business applications and online services like payroll processing, appointment scheduling, invoicing, and every other confidential function of your business.
We recently used Presbyterian Health Services potential breach of protected health information (ePHI) as a case study in why employee behavior and training are key elements of security and compliance. Not even a month later, and here we go again. Last week, Grays Harbor Community Hospital in Aberdeen, WA issued a formal notice of a potential electronic protected health information (ePHI) breach. Like Presbyterian Health Services, this potential breach was the result of a phishing email. In this case, the attackers initiated a ransomware attack holding the organization’s medical records hostage and demanding a $1 million ransom to release the key to de-encrypt their data. Grays Harbor seemed to have done everything right to prepare for this type of incident. They have an IT department, anti-virus solution, data backups, and even took out a $1 million cyber insurance policy. Even though they seem to have followed the playbook, there are some lessons to be learned from this incident.