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EFFECTIVE CYBERSECURITY PRACTICES
How well your business survives a data attack depends on how cyber ready you are for that day
Cyberattacks on business are a common occurrence and on the rise, year after year. They remain a real, though invisible, risk to organizations, their employees and even their customers or clients.
Preparing a strong cyber-readiness profile isn’t just a good idea—it could be essential to the success and survival of your business. That plan could range from teaching and enforcing new digital habits throughout your company, to implementing a complete cyber-readiness plan and creating a cyber-readiness culture at work.
It’s vital for business owners to take the lead role in that effort, which could include assigning a team of talented experts with the task or leading the effort directly. In any case, if business decisions and mission statements come from business owners and leaders, so should cyber-readiness planning.
Why cyber readiness is vital today.
While it’s true that corporations, larger businesses and even governments are prime targets for cyberattacks, medium-size and small businesses are very often victims themselves.
On any given day, there could be some type of cyberattack on your business—a phishing attempt, a network shutdown or a ransomware attack. What would complicate the situation even more is if you are not prepared for it. Fear, panic, anger and confusion would all be initial, and understandable, reactions. But what happens afterward would suddenly become vitally important.
If cyberattacks have become part of the business landscape, as sad as that is, it underscores the need for businesses of all sizes to get ready to fight back as best as they can. The goal is not only to take steps to lower the risk of a business-disrupting cyberattack, but to be prepared to bounce back quickly when one occurs.
A new type of business mission.
Since the success of a business relies on the success of its employees working as a team and following a mission, when it comes to developing a cyber-readiness mindset and plan, leaders must include non-management personnel in the plan. Employees are an important line of defense. You could even say they are the first line of defense. They need to learn the signs of attempted fraud and cyberattacks and maintain a level of readiness.
Data can no longer be defined as simply customer information and records, which businesses and their employees know is important. Different levels of data must be protected, and cyber-readiness plans must include strategies for protecting a business’s operational data:
- Company processes and policies
- Staff and employee names and titles
- Personal information about employees (home telephone numbers, family status, etc.)
In fact, once business owners see this type of data in a new way—as that needing constant protection—the urgency to protect it would motivate action plans.
Preparing for a data attack… before and after.
A data breach or network attack is the last thing businesses want to think about, but they must assume it might happen one day. A good rule to follow is this: Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
The goal, of course, is to prevent a data attack from happening, but hackers are persistent and always finding new ways to penetrate networks. If there is a cyberattack of any kind and your network has been compromised, your next goal is to limit the damage of the attack as much as possible and recover as quickly as possible.
To do that, you will need to have a strategy and plan in place for responding to a data disaster:
- You and your IT team or key personnel need to create a recovery plan, following guidelines from cybersecurity manuals, IT personnel or security consultants
- Consider purchasing a cyber-insurance policy to protect you and your customers’ sensitive information
- Try to gain input from several employees in different departments and functional areas
- Once the strategy is created and written, you need to familiarize your staff and your key team leaders with the plan
Gaining employee buy-in.
The plan should be inclusive:
- Consider rules for remote employees and people who often work from home
- Create clear processes and policies regarding using, sharing, saving and protecting company data
- Include guidelines for using computers, networks, email, storage devices and applications where company information is used and stored
- Make the policies easy to follow and implement—as you tell employees what they shouldn’t do, provide information about what they can and should do
- Let employees know that cyber readiness is part of their job descriptions
Consider a cyberattack drill.
Some cyber-readiness experts suggest that businesses conduct a cyberattack drill, as they would a fire drill or some other emergency business plan. You will quickly find out how well your team performs during a drill—or even a genuine cyberattack—and it will reflect the following:
- How well you have prepared
- How thorough and understood your established procedures are
- How well your team members know their roles
Follow the leader.
In the same way that parents, not their children, are responsible for the safety of the family, it’s up to the business owner to train employees about cybersecurity in the workplace and enforce those policies. Employees, understandably, are primarily concerned with performing their job tasks well, rather than acting as the safety net for their company’s data.
For more information on protecting your business from cyber-attacks and other dangers, visit the Banc of California Business Insights page on the Banc of California website. It provides valuable information from business experts on a variety of topics, including cybersecurity.
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