How to Transition to Proactive Cyber Security

As organizations are shifting from in-office to remote work structures, or into a hybrid work structure, many are still dealing with the impact of the pandemic and focused on reducing and mitigating risk. While research shows that cyber attacks have increased over 600% since the pandemic, organizations that embrace a proactive cyber security model can reduce or eliminate cyber attacks and threats, ensuring their organization is resilient and will thrive during the upcoming economic recovery.

Deciding to take a proactive approach to defending and protecting your organization and your critical systems is the best path towards accelerating economic recovery. The last thing any organization needs is to be the victim of a cyber or ransomware attack while still attempting to recover from the pandemic. 

A proactive approach to cyber security includes collaborating with subject matter experts, researching the latest security solutions, planning for new technology implementations, and deploying a layered approach to cyber security that includes managed detection and response security services. This holistic approach enables you to identify and address security risks before an attack occurs. Read on for more about how exactly to do that.

Take Inventory of Your Current IT and Security Assets

Organizations interested in a proactive approach to cyber security should begin by reviewing their current IT and security technology assets, policies, and procedures. This step allows organizations to understand what IT and security assets are on the network and in place within the environment today, and what policies, procedures, and controls are at their disposal that can be utilized to defend and protect the organization. 

If you don’t have resources that can scan, catalog, and assess your current IT and security assets, a consultant can be a valuable ally. They have the experience and expertise needed to catalog and assess current technology, access points, hardware, and software for critical vulnerabilities, review and evaluate security solutions, and more. They can recommend “the right” security solutions and approaches that will give your organization a leg up on hackers and cyber criminals.

Eliminate Technical Debt

If your organization is running technology, systems, applications, or even security solutions that are more than 24 months old, chances are the technology has critical vulnerabilities, needs to be patched and updated, or simply needs to be replaced as it is obsolete. This is a common situation that many organizations find themselves in: they have accumulated “technical debt”, technologies that are no longer adding value but rather require significant patching, maintenance, or upgrades and have created risk for the organization. Working with a collaborative partner or managed service provider to review options around how best to eliminate technical debt and deploy modern technologies that can more effectively defend and protect the organization going forward is a great step towards deploying a proactive cyber security program.

Technology upgrades can be expensive, but there are ways to prioritize, manage, and spread out those costs to fit your budget and business requirements. Cloud technology and hosted security solutions tend to offer advanced protection and are usually a good, cost-effective alternative to building in-house infrastructure. 

Another option is managed security solutions. By partnering with a managed services or security provider, the third party is responsible for the technology, maintenance, patching, and human capital costs, thus significantly reducing your upfront and ongoing investment. (For more information on how to calculate ROI from IT investments, check out this blog.)

Train Your Staff on Hacking and Phishing Scenarios

Most cyber attacks are successful because they exploit human or employee vulnerabilities. Training your work teams can go a long way toward reducing the risk of a breach, malware, or ransomware attack.

Employees don’t often realize they’re placing your systems, data, or devices at risk during phishing scams. Once they know what to look for, they’re better prepared and learn not to click on emails that can serve as a delivery system for malware or a gateway for hackers. 

Weak passwords are another way hackers can gain access. Training your teams to use a password management system, VPN application, or creating more difficult password versions can help prevent attacks.

Establish (and Test) a Disaster Recovery and Response Plan 

Take time to create and battle test a disaster recovery and emergency response plan for your organization in case of a man-made or natural disaster. Many organizations have a documented disaster recovery plan and have disaster recovery and data back-up technologies in place, but they never take the time to simulate a disaster and test the process or the back-ups. 

Having a detailed plan with policies, procedures, and tools in place to recover your critical systems and data to get your organization operational again is the first step. The second step is to test those plans and technologies against a simulated attack or outage to ensure the plan, tools, and technologies work as expected.

Also, as you test your plan, going through a simulated cyber or ransomware attack is highly recommended. Over the last 3 years, 90% of organizations polled report that they have not gone through a simulated cyber or ransomware attack as part of their disaster recovery plan testing.

A comprehensive disaster recovery and response plan should include the following:

  • Plan overview
  • Key personnel and recovery team member contact information
  • A prioritized list of all business areas, systems, applications, and technologies to recover in order of criticality
  • Identification of critical IT assets
  • List of company softwares, license keys, and systems
  • Recovery point and recovery time objectives for each technology
  • Processes and activities that describe emergency response, and recovery steps and actions
  • Insurance policy coverage details
  • Guidelines for engaging law enforcement and dealing with financial, legal, and media outreach

We Can Help

If your organization is interested in deploying a more proactive cyber security program or solution, we can help. Contact us at Xceptional, and one of our professional IT consultants can set up a time to meet with you to discuss custom solutions that will offer better protection for your business.

By Natalie

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