With data breaches and other forms of cyberattacks becoming an everyday occurrence, companies of all sizes are living in fear that they might be next. Even a short outage can be disastrous for an enterprise that relies on technology and cloud-based services to meet its customers’ needs.
Most organizations now realize their IT budget needs to include a significant portion devoted to cybersecurity protection. But how can you gauge whether that effort is being successful or not? You don’t want to waste money on tools you don’t need, but you also can’t afford to let vulnerabilities go undiscovered.
In this article, we’ll examine the practice of turning cybersecurity into a measurable entity that can help your organization identify its strengths, weaknesses, and risks.
Companies logically look towards cybersecurity experts when trying to improve their IT strategy. The first recommendation that seems to always come up is to institute security training across the entire organization. This usually involves sending all employees and contractors to an awareness session that’s held either in-person or through an online class system.
At the end of cybersecurity awareness training, employees often take a simplified quiz to verify that they were paying attention to the material. Unfortunately, this kind of assessment is rarely indicative of any actual growth or learning. There’s a high chance that many employees leave the training and continue going about their work in the same way.
To curb this behavior, organizations need to turn cybersecurity training into more than just a dull, required task. One idea gaining in popularity is the concept of a cybersecurity scorecard. Companies may have their security systems audited at the enterprise level, but this kind of scorecard is assessed at an individual level instead.
A scorecard system might monitor how each employee interacts with certain types of email messages. If a person opens a phishing email and clicks on a suspicious link, their score would go down. On the other hand, deleting the email or reporting to IT would result in a score boost.
When talking about cybersecurity, a lot of the focus is on response and recovery. IT teams are trained to react appropriately when an incident is discovered and then work across the organization to restore all systems and functionality back to their original state. Doing this as quickly and efficiently is critical in maintaining stable business operations.
However, a mistake that many companies make is to think of cyberattacks and data breaches as one-off incidents. They assume that once they have recovered from the issue then they can continue operating as normal. In reality, cybersecurity needs to be thought of as a continuous activity that is based on real, live data.
Measuring key performance indicators (KPI’s) is the only way to monitor your organization’s stability and security. For example, a group of stakeholders should set goals for how quickly an internal incident gets resolved. Then you can track the history of incidents over time and see whether your staff is improving their resolution success percentage.
You should also look at specific tools within your network, like firewalls and intrusion detection systems, to track their performance. Many new solutions come with built-in machine learning capabilities that are able to automatically grade the effectiveness of their own configuration.
Investing in Encryption
A major concern that many organizations forget about is the presence of insider threats. Cyberattacks do not always originate from external hackers and instead can be launched by inadvertently someone inside the company via internal communication channels or cloud systems that are not properly secured. So the industry best practice is to ensure that your systems and data are secure in every direction.
The best method for measuring your overall data security is to aim for a 100 percent rate of data encryption, meaning that all traffic flowing between your internal and external systems is encoded so that no one can spy or intercept it. This can also be beneficial for your relationship with customers, as they have more trust in you with true end-to-end encryption.
A virtual private network (VPN) client is the easiest way to encrypt data that leaves a computer or other device. But at the enterprise level, it makes sense to think bigger and obtain a reliable and well-encrypted VPN router. With a VPN router, all traffic automatically encrypted on your network without having to configure individual devices, which makes it much easier to move toward 100 percent encryption.
Companies in every industry need to make risk management a part of their operational activities. It covers the process of identifying threats to your business and developing actions to deal with them. Although these risks don’t always revolve around technology, IT is playing more of a central role in the discussion and helping to find solutions to make the process run smoother.
But for a long time, risk management was thought of as a very qualitative practice, meaning it required a lot of human analysis that could not be quantified. That is not the case today, as data has become a key driver in how risks are managed in an automated manner.
New artificial intelligence solutions are hitting the market every day that add robotic elements to the risk management process. Using a mathematical model, hey can easily identify flaws in your internal processes that could potentially lead to important or personal data being compromised and other cybersecurity incidents in the future.
For corporate leaders, simply placing an extra emphasis on cybersecurity is not enough to ensure the protection of your valuable data assets. Instead, you need to make the process as quantifiable as possible so that you can measure your organization’s risk profile and help it improve over time.
The best cybersecurity strategies are ones that are proactive in nature. Being able to respond to and recover from an instance of hacking is important, but stopping the incident before it even starts is what saves your organization more time, money, and pain in the long run.