Cyber attacks are a constant risk for modern businesses, and the potential for attack is only growing with time. In August 2018, Microsoft, Facebook and Google all encountered and disrupted hacking attempts from foreign intelligence agencies attempting to spread their geopolitical influence. While these attacks were politically motivated and directed at enormous companies, hackers of all backgrounds and motivations are a constant risk for companies of all sizes.
Traditional corporate cybersecurity efforts tend to focus on preventing low-level hackers from accessing proprietary information or customer data. But hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and some are even working for foreign intelligence services.
Most corporate cybersecurity measures are unprepared for attacks from these more experienced and well-funded perpetrators, and many companies simply think it’s unlikely they’ll be the targets of such attacks. This unpreparedness is a costly mistake.
What Are the Vulnerabilities in the Cybersecurity Industry?
Hackers come from any number of backgrounds, from criminal to corporate to state-sponsored. The motivations of these hackers are just as varied. They might steal information for personal financial gain, political influence, simple vandalism or political hacktivism. Some hackers even ply their trade for the purposes of terrorism, including taking control of centers of infrastructure.
Whatever their motivation, hackers all need one thing: a system vulnerability they can take advantage of. Here are some of the most common vulnerabilities businesses have in their cybersecurity systems:
- Inadequate Data Protection: Data is the backbone of companies in the modern world and protecting that data should be of paramount concern. However, many companies fail to adequately protect their data, storing it in unsecured or unsuitable platforms and failing to encrypt or dispose of it properly. Additionally, organizations usually store this data in a highly inefficient manner, losing track of data by failing to organize it properly or institute access controls. Undertrained staff members can often exacerbate the problem, especially if they don’t know how to handle different types of data appropriately or aren’t aware of the importance of data security.
- Poor Incident Management: When a problem does occur, organizations need to be able to react quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, many organizations fail to do so. According to one 2017 report, it took small to mid-size businesses an average of six months to find a breach after it occurred. For many of these businesses, the delay is due to poor incident detection capabilities, inadequate reporting processes, and ill-constructed or incomplete incident response plans. In many corporations, staff members don’t even know who to report to when an incident occurs.
- Third-Party Risks: When corporations work with a third-party supplier, they often forget to take necessary cybersecurity precautions. Commonly, corporations forget to address risks, carry out audits, or check the security protocols of their third-party suppliers, even if these suppliers have unlimited access to the corporation’s data and resources. This can leave companies extremely exposed, not only because their data is vulnerable but also because they are now less likely to detect when their data has been breached.
- Insufficient Technical Defenses: Businesses often fail to keep their cybersecurity technology up-to-date, failing to patch or maintain software or update hardware within recommended time periods. Some companies even fail to check the security measures included in their commonly used apps and software on network devices. In a 2014 analysis of 1,000 popular Android phone apps, 68% of the apps didn’t check server certificates and 77% ignored SSL errors, leaving the phones open to data breaches. Additionally, many companies have poorly configured or outdated hardware and software, leaving their systems more vulnerable to attacks. However, even with the most up-to-date and well-configured software, companies can seriously undermine the usefulness of their system security by failing to regularly test or scan their networks for vulnerabilities.
- Training Failures: If your staff doesn’t know how to maintain your data security or what to do in the event of a breach, you are leaving your company data open to any number of security problems. Companies often fail to communicate security measures and protocols to staff members, and even more fail to update their staff on current threats. This often means the source of their vulnerability is their staff, who can introduce vulnerabilities into the company’s network by sharing information with suspicious or unvetted inquirers, downloading unapproved and potentially vulnerable software onto company computers, and failing to report when they’ve observed a potential security breach.
These points only scratch the surface of potential corporate data vulnerabilities. The most important takeaway, however, is what these vulnerabilities mean for your business.
What Does This Mean for Your Businesses?
Security vulnerabilities can often seem nebulous to small and medium-sized businesses, but the risk is all too real.
A 2017 report by the Ponemon Institute found that 61 percent of mid-size businesses experienced a cyber attack within a year, and 54 percent experienced a data breach. On average, these businesses spent over a million dollars to repair the damage or theft done to their IT assets and lost an additional $1.2 million in lost productivity. Small businesses were even worse off, with over 60% closing within six months of a breach.
Despite this reality, only 39 percent of the respondents involved in the study reported that their current technology was able to detect and block most cyber attacks.
In short, while corporations have become more aware of cyber security and data protection issues over the past decade, many still have room to grow in their implementation of cyber security protocols. Fortunately, the vast majority of companies have accepted the necessity of cybersecurity technology, transitioning their focus from the question of “What technology will protect me?” to “How do I limit my exposure and liability?”
Fortunately, the steps to limit your business’ exposure and liability are fairly straightforward:
- Assess Your Risk: Take stock of your current network and systems with a risk assessment. This risk analysis includes identifying outdated software and hardware, determining the effects of each vulnerability on your network and proposing potential updates and solutions to solve the problem. It’s often recommended to work with a cybersecurity consultant that specializes in vulnerability assessments since they can provide an objective view and help design comprehensive solutions tailored to your company’s current cybersecurity vulnerabilities.
- Review Security Protocols: Work with your staff to update cybersecurity education and protocols. Develop and implement a complete cybersecurity protocol and checklist for employees, detailing their responsibilities in the event of a breach and identifying a team or individual as your cybersecurity response team.
- Implement Solutions: On top of hardware and software updates, look for new technology that can help reduce your corporate risk and prevent hacks before they happen. For example, CYBERShark by BlackStratus helps limit liability by continuously monitoring your IT infrastructure and providing real-time attack visualization based on statistical and historical correlations.
What Are the Costs of Protection vs. Non-Protection?
In addition to the previously mentioned steps, it is often a good idea to put your cybersecurity issues into perspective by calculating the cost of protection versus the cost of a potential breach. Identify how much your company stands to lose in lost productivity, repair costs and customer relationships. This can help communicate the urgency of cybersecurity maintenance to your team.
Here are a few things to consider in your calculations:
1. Fixed Costs of Protecting Yourself
- Staffing: One of the most important steps to take while updating your cybersecurity is to elect an individual or team as a cybersecurity specialist. This individual is your company’s first responder in the event of a breach. They will identify and confirm breaches as they happen and move forward with the necessary steps to stop the breach and assess the damage. If you do not already have a cybersecurity specialist or you have an understaffed cybersecurity team, it may be necessary to add staff. It’s important to have these people available to help minimize confusion and downtime in the event of an attack, and they can serve as the points of contact for your staff and security technology providers.
- Training: Ensuring that your entire staff is up-to-date on security protocols is an essential part of minimizing risk. Employees need to know what they can do to avoid security breaches and what to do in the event of a cyber attack. Generally, it is a good idea to provide annual training sessions on top of the traditional onboarding protocols and to notify employees of current scams and vulnerabilities so they can be aware of current threats. While providing trainers and taking employees out of the workforce to train can be costly in labor, it can significantly improve your response time and minimize your vulnerabilities.
- Security Infrastructure: Anti-virus systems are just the tip of the iceberg. Maintaining a strong and up-to-date security infrastructure is essential to your business as a whole. This includes keeping hardware and software current and well-configured, ensuring that all network devices and software meet basic security standards, and incorporating hardware and software that is dedicated to security maintenance. For many corporations, multiple security systems may be required to provide the level of security needed, including an anti-virus system and network monitoring software. While implementing multiple systems may seem costly, they can provide a huge boost to your data protection.
- Governance: All the technology and staffing in the world mean nothing if they are not assessed and improved over time. This is where governance comes in. Schedule regular times where your cybersecurity team and administration review cybersecurity concerns and threats and identify areas that may need improvement. Many corporations choose to work with a consultant for this purpose, which can bring some perspective to your current processes. The long-term benefits are well worth the extra cost.
On the surface, these fixed costs may seem expensive. But they mostly include fixed labor and technology costs. It can be easy to get lost in the cost-conscious mindset, but these basic costs are nothing compared to the costs associated with a breach if you fail to protect your business.
2. Variable Costs If You Get Hacked
- Loss of Productivity: On average, mid-size businesses missed out on $1,208,000 in lost productivity due to security breaches and cyber attacks in 2017. For many businesses, that cost alone is enough to shut down the business entirely. For your own business, calculating the cost of downtime is simple: just divide your annual revenue by 365, and you’ve calculated the cost of a single day of downtime.
- Wasted Labor: Wasted labor is another common problem with security breaches. While the labor involved in training staff and hiring cybersecurity specialists may seem high, consider the fact that in the event of a breach, you’ll need your entire IT team dedicated to finding, closing and collecting details about the breach. In some cases, this process can take days or even weeks — especially if your team isn’t equipped with the appropriate security software.
- Potential Theft: In criminal cyber attacks, theft is often the goal. That theft can add even more to your total costs in the event of a hack. The average theft cost for all businesses polled in the 2017 Ponemon study was $3,620,000, while the cost for mid-size businesses alone was $1,027,000.
- Legal Considerations: On top of the immediate costs of a cyber attack, the legal costs can be even more concerning. Companies can be sued by customers whose personal information has been stolen, and many businesses are fined by regulatory agencies if a breach is determined to have happened due to negligence.
- Loss of Trust: The long-term cost to your business is one thing that is difficult to calculate, but it can have lasting ramifications for your business and its future. Customer loyalty takes years to build and just one second to destroy. If your customers believe their information is no longer safe in your hands, you can safely assume that you have lost their business for good.
So what can you do to avoid these costs? Implementing basic steps like security protocols and training are a key component of minimizing your company’s vulnerability to cyber attacks. However, you can take your cybersecurity to the next level with the right software systems. This is where BlackStratus comes in.
What Do Our Products Do That Others Can’t?
BlackStratus can give you the security peace of mind your company needs. Our products use advanced data and network monitoring capabilities along with comprehensive log management to cover your business and track suspicious activity as it occurs.
With our comprehensive LOGStorm log management system, you can keep detailed records of network events for your team to review at any time. Need something even more robust? Our CYBERShark system gives you 24/7 security management and compliance regulation on top of your essential log management functions. These systems offer the following benefits:
- Cloud-Based: Both LOGStorm and CYBERShark are cloud-based, meaning you can benefit from the system without dedicating hardware or data storage space.
- Compatible: CYBERShark is compatible with over 1,000 network devices, operating systems, servers, and other appliances, and we are constantly adding more.
- Scalable: LOGStorm and CYBERShark are highly scalable and provide consistent service no matter the size of your company.
- Accessible: The system automatically logs incidents from all network devices, encrypting and storing them for 12 months while optimizing them for rapid summaries and drill downs.
- Compliant: Both LOGStorm and CYBERShark are compliant with all key regulatory agencies and entities to ensure your data is properly secured at all levels. The systems even include pre-configured compliance reporting tools.
In short, BlackStratus’ systems offer your organization everything it needs to take your cybersecurity to the next level.
Since 1999, BlackStratus has been an innovator in security information event management (SIEM) products and services. We work closely with the world’s top managed service providers and enterprises to gain the experience needed to offer the best security and compliance management software.
Serving thousands of customers and millions of devices across the globe, BlackStratus’ enterprise technology solution is scalable, visible and affordable — and we want to keep it that way. Our solitary goal is to provide the best security possible and help your business prevent costly downtime by maintaining compliance and vigilance.
Minimize your company’s risk today with a software system designed to work with your business. BlackStratus can help your business minimize vulnerabilities with our full suite of event logging and cyber security software. Call us today to learn what we can do for you at 844-564-7876 or request a demonstration.