Which Tools Can Reduce Cyber Risk For Your Business?
All business leaders want to lower their cyber risk. But how do you know which tools can help?
I’m writing this article to answer that very question. Based on my 10 years of experience in IT, I can honestly tell you that many business leaders aren’t exactly sure which tools can help reduce their organization’s cyber risk. That’s why I decided to write this article to address the topic head on!
As manager, engineering services, at a managed IT support service provider, I work with companies to assess and minimize their cyber risk every day. (Don’t worry though, I’m not writing this article to convince you to work with us. My goal is just to provide information you can use.)
In this article, I’ll highlight 10 tools that you can use to minimize your cyber risk and explain each of them in easy-to-understand terms.
Each of these tools plays a significant role in reducing risk, but the best cybersecurity solution is to layer different tools within your infrastructure to make it more difficult for cyber criminals to access your data and penetrate your network.
Where Do Cybersecurity Risks Come From?
Any device within your digital infrastructure from computers to internet of things (IoT) devices and more can pose a security risk that could leave your infrastructure and the data it contains vulnerable to unauthorized access.
Other cyber incidents can be the result of everyday activities including searching the internet, emailing, and web browsing.
The reality is that anything that connects from your internal infrastructure to the internet could expose your network and data to a cyber attack.
Who’s At Risk?
Cyber criminals traditionally targeted large companies with reams of sensitive data.
Following significant investments by large companies in cybersecurity tools, cyber criminals have set their sights on small and medium businesses (SMBs) that often don’t have access to the technical expertise and financial resources required to shore up their infrastructure.
This isn’t a dig at SMBs, just the reality of competing priorities.
What Could Happen If Your Organization’s Risks Aren’t Addressed?
When organizations don’t identify and address security gaps in their infrastructure, those gaps can be exploited resulting in unauthorized access or unintentional leakage of customer or business data.
What Tools Can Help Protect Businesses From Cyber Threats?
Now let’s talk about the tools business leaders can use to protect their data and infrastructure.
Firewalls monitor traffic traveling between networks.
They block or allow traffic based on general safety guidelines as well as specific ones defined by a company. In other words, they act like a cell membrane between internal computer networks and the internet; they allow certain things to cross the barriers and keep others out.
Because they quietly operate in the background keeping your network safe without too much though from business leaders or users, they often fall into that “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” category.
But, just like every other part of your network, firewalls need to be monitored and updated to ward off new threats.
2. Penetration Tests
Penetration tests are basically controlled, authorized hacking incidents.
This test involves an external IT professional poking around the network to identify vulnerabilities in an organization’s infrastructure and explore the consequences of those vulnerabilities being exploited by someone with malicious intent from inside or outside the organization.
Once these threats are known, you can put in place the resources and safeguards necessary to avoid a real cyber incident.
3. Vulnerability Scan
A vulnerability scan (or “vulscan”) is an automated tool that identifies everything that is running on your network(s) and looks for areas of potential vulnerability.
This scan is performed with your permission at a high level sometimes without login credentials just to see what open information can be accessed.
4. Gap Analysis
Gap analysis is another tool many businesses use to identify potential security risks and make plans to minimize them.
The process starts with finding a cybersecurity framework that closely aligns with the business.
Then, business leaders use the framework to evaluate their organization’s cyber readiness.
This process helps identify areas where the organization’s efforts are not best practice. From there, members of the organization’s leadership team can develop a plan to work toward the desired state of security.
For example, if your organization is involved in manufacturing with the DOD, a gap analysis would compare existing security tools with the controls listed in the framework outlined in NIST 800-171.
The most important thing about a gap analysis is to be honest and take it seriously, so that the internal team knows which specific areas need to be addressed and has concrete plans to move the business forward on its cybersecurity journey.
5. Policies & Procedures
Internal cybersecurity policies and procedures are the rules of the road when it comes to cybersecurity. Some organizations don’t have policies and procedures. Others don’t apply them consistently across the entire workforce. Both aspects are important.
If you don’t have policies and procedures, how will employees know what you expect? If there aren’t consequences to ignoring the policies and procedures, why bother implementing them and, equally important, who will take them seriously?
For this reason, the best practice is to develop policies and procedures that are easy-to-understand and enforceable. Revisit them often to make sure they continue to be effective and hold people accountable.
For example, many employees are working remotely and often using personal devices for work.
This can lead to breakdowns in security because the devices are no longer under the care of an internal IT team. As a result, they may not be updated and patched regularly, feature outdated technology, or pose other risks.
As a result, many organizations are developing policies to address the security risks associated with bring your own device (BYOD) arrangements. These policies govern how these devices will be brought up to the organization’s security baseline and how they will be monitored and maintained.
6. Cyber Liability Insurance
A relatively new tool in minimizing cyber risk is cyber liability insurance.
Cyber liability (also known as “data breach” or “privacy”) insurance policies cover specific losses that may result from an organization’s electronic activities including email, video conferencing, data collection and storage, and more.
According to the Travelers insurance company website, there are a “combination of coverage options to help protect the company from data breaches and other cyber security issues.”
Different policies provide various levels of coverage, but most include financial and professional resources (forensics, public relations, etc.) to help organizations recover from cyber attacks.
Related article: What Should Business Leaders Understand About Cyber Insurance?
7. Employee Security Awareness Training
Data show that up to 95 percent of cyber incidents are the result of human error. In other words, your employees can be your greatest security asset or your weakest link.
With regular employee security awareness training, your employees will be informed about the latest tactics cyber criminals are using to target weaknesses in organizational IT infrastructures.
By providing employees with information, you empower them to take quick action that can keep people with bad intentions from gaining access to your network and data.
8. Infrastructure Monitoring
Just as it is important to know who is walking into your facility every day, it’s important to keep tabs on the devices that are interacting with your network. After all, your network is the lifeline of your business.
You can’t possibly know if something is infected unless you are regularly monitoring for unauthorized access or files that are behaving oddly.
Anti-spam, antivirus, and anti-malware are tools that track the behavior of incoming and outgoing email files. Network monitoring brings together host, network, and system monitoring tools to keep tabs on the health of your infrastructure.
As I mention often, the best solution is a combination of security tools to deter unauthorized access.
9. Updated Software
Whenever you are alerted, install updates and patches to all software and systems as soon as possible. In most cases, these updates provide productivity improvements and patch cybersecurity gaps.
10. Continuous Improvement
Cybersecurity threats continue to evolve. As a result, what may be an effective cybersecurity solution today could be outdated next year, next month, or next week. Cybersecurity will never be done. Don’t get complacent.
Make sure to keep your tools updated so that you have the strongest possible protection against today’s threats.
How Much Should I Expect To Spend On Cybersecurity Enhancements?
Honestly, the cost depends on numerous factors. Those include the number and types of security gaps that currently exist in your infrastructure, the tools you use every day (apps, devices, and software), and the age and condition of your infrastructure.
In addition, some technology requires unique controls. Some are more expensive than others.
What’s The Bottom Line?
At the end of the day cybersecurity is an ever-evolving landscape. You are never going to stay ahead of it. You can only do your best. But stay vigilant because your organization’s survival depends on it!
After reading this article, you know where cybersecurity risks come from, who’s at risk, what could happen if the risks aren’t addressed, and the tools that exist to help keep your business data and infrastructure safe. We’ve also addressed costs and some of the factors that can affect it.
The bottom line is that you don’t want to scrimp on security.
I’ve seen too many organizations in which leadership has assumed their tools were still effective since they hadn’t had an incident. And, then there was an event.
Never settle for good enough or rest on your laurels. The best practice is to implement layers of security and keep your most vital information safe behind several layers of protection. Monitor, assess, and update your cybersecurity tools regularly.
Although it can be difficult to see an immediate return on your investment in cybersecurity tools, all it takes is one event to realize the value.
With cyber attacks, it’s not a question of if you will become a victim, but when. It will happen. The best you can do is prepare and invest in protection before an event, so that you can mitigate the impact of the event when it happens.
At this point, you may be wondering whether your internal IT staff has the tools and resources to keep up with cybersecurity on top of managing the daily needs of users. You are not alone. Many business leaders in this situation turn to external IT support to augment their internal staff.
Or maybe you don’t have an internal IT staff and are looking for an external partner to handle all your technology needs. Learn about your options for external support.
And, while Kelser offers a full complement of managed IT support services, we know that isn't the right choice for everyone. Read this honest assessment of the pros and cons of block hours and managed IT support.
We know it may seem strange for us to say it, but both options have their place depending on what your business needs. Rather than convince you to work with us, we believe in presenting the information you need to decide for yourself.
If you want to learn steps you can take on your own, click the button below for a free checklist you can use to:
✔️Understand where your organization's cybersecurity policy needs improving
✔️Learn actions you can take to keep your organization's data secure
✔️Help ensure your organization follows the latest cybersecurity best practices