October is cybersecurity awareness month. I wanted to take some time to discuss the current cyberthreat landscape and our thoughts on ACE IT Solutions’ approach to cybersecurity. 

Biggest cybersecurity shifts from 2021

We are seeing a huge shift of business leaders prioritizing cybersecurity in their business. An investment in cybersecurity is an investment in your employees, your customers, and your company’s reputation. More of the businesses we deal with, particularly in the financial industry, are investing in SOC (security operations center) services — a team that’s solely dedicated to the day-to-day defense of your infrastructure.

When it comes to cybersecurity, we’ve learned that the landscape is always changing, the threats are always evolving. We are constantly looking for what’s next and continue to scale to the needs and demands of our clients and their environments. Successful cybersecurity programs will always require a method that balances an innovative, cutting-edge approach with data-driven, proven best practices.

Proactive vs. Reactive Cybersecurity

What differentiates a truly comprehensive cybersecurity program is not only its ability to prevent an attack, but how quickly it is able to detect, respond to, and remediate a successful attack. 

There is a big difference between how a business reacts if it has a planned process around dealing with an attack versus one that has no plan. It is inevitable that your business will be compromised. Planning provides an opportunity to address those threats in a systematic way. 

Businesses can’t figure out a strategy on how to handle an attack after it’s already happened, they have to be prepared 24/7. Even with the most resilient program in place, there is still a risk of a breach.

The worst time to decide how to handle any kind of cyber-attack is after it’s happened. Businesses need to make sure their customers know they’re in good hands if something happens and their personal data is on the line. So much of running a successful business is building customer trust and ensuring that customers feel that their data is secure. 

Bottom line: A resilient and proactive cybersecurity program provides a competitive advantage. 

Boards are Becoming More Involved

Cybersecurity isn’t just an IT department problem, it’s something that everyone needs to care about, and it is the Board’s responsibility to lead the way. It is the board’s responsibility, not just IT’s, to make sure the entire organization is prepared for a cyber attack. The entire board needs to bring their experience in other areas of the business to provide a holistic approach to cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity isn’t just a way to protect and prepare an organization for a potential threat, it’s one of the best business drivers an enterprise can have in its arsenal. Business leaders understand this and are becoming more involved in their business’ cybersecurity program. 

Boards must also think beyond just IT to focus on cybersecurity trends, and tools. It is the board’s responsibility to make sure that the executive team has a plan, is prepared, and is preparing the whole organization for the reality of an attack. They must also make sure their teams are properly educated so every employee at every level of the organization practices good cyber hygiene and knows how to identify and deal with a potential breach.

Remote Work

Remote work is here to stay and business leaders need to be prepared to deal with the security challenges that come with expanded office perimeters. The shift to remote work has given rise to a global cybercrime pandemic, particularly around ransomware. Employees using personal devices pose an easy target tor hackers. Businesses must expand their security perimeters to bring their cybersecurity controls closer to home offices. 

Ransomware attacks have become more targeted and sophisticated because the events of the past 18 months. The pandemic has opened doors for hackers. With so many of us working remotely, we don’t have the same protections we once did in an office building. We have seen a transition of larger scale, more generic automated attacks to more personalized, hands-on targeted attacks. As a result, the frequency and cost of ransomware attacks have skyrocketed.

Business leaders need to make sure their teams are properly educated so every employee at every level of the organization practices good cyber hygiene and knows how to identify and deal with a potential breach, regardless of where they are working from. 

Investing in Cybersecurity Tools

There is no silver bullet for protecting your business. Your cybersecurity program needs to encompass a range of measures that tackle the basics like security updates, authentication and system access. AI is an absolute must, as it a SOC or team that is interpreting the data 24/7. 

The Value of a CIO

It is important that someone on the board have cybersecurity expertise so they can help build the overall board’s knowledge. Having a capable CIO (or CSO) to align your business and IT strategies is key to optimizing technology tools and costs. A CIO can help build the cybersecurity capabilities of the entire board and investigate how the organization can use its technological prowess, speed, and customer service to outperform rivals. The CIO will work closely with the CEO, CFO, and other members of your leadership team to coordinate an IT roadmap that aligns with your leadership’s vision for the organization. CIOs spend ample time outside of the IT department and must have a blend of technical expertise, business acumen, communication, and leadership skills.

Alternatively, SMBs without Boards have been opting for CISO as a service (Chief information security officer). By hiring a third-party provider to manage its security program, a smaller organization gains access to staff and resources it doesn’t have in house. The outsourced CISO provides the skill and expertise to help SMBs keep up with security and compliance demands. 

The Cloud

One of the biggest risks we are seeing is around legacy equipment. We treat legacy equipment as untrustworthy and put controls in place to manage it. The cloud is a great opportunity to move off legacy infrastructure. But the shift to cloud poses a new set of risks. Though large-scale cloud providers are much more secure than what most SMBs can achieve on their own.  Businesses still need to take responsibility for security within their firms. 

Cybersecurity isn’t a luxury, it is a necessity. The more prepared businesses are to deal with the reality of the current cybersecurity landscape, the more successful they will be. I highly encourage business leaders to become more involved in the cybersecurity of their firms. A well-prepared firm will be far ahead of the curve when (not if) a breach occurs. 

Businesses wondering whether they are ready to handle the realities of the 2021 cyber threat landscape should reach out to their IT provider or their CIO for a cybersecurity assessment, which will help reveal gaps in your program where hackers could sneak in. 

Contact ACE IT Solutions at 646.558.5575 or visit www.aceits.net

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