Understanding Cybersecurity and Measuring Your Risk

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Cybersecurity starts with complete participation from everyone within your organization. But in order to participate, you and your team first need to understand what you’re up against.

Common Cybersecurity Threats

Cyberthreats have come a long way over the years, and criminals are only getting craftier with their tactics. Below are some of the most common forms of cyberattacks businesses and individuals alike are facing.

  • Malware: A generic term used to describe a type of software, including spyware, ransomware, viruses and worms, specifically designed to corrupt a computer or network system. Malware breaches a network through a vulnerability, typically when a user clicks a dangerous link or email attachment that then installs risky software. Once inside the system, malware can:
    • Block access to key components of the network (ransomware)
    • Install additional malware or other harmful software
    • Covertly obtain information by transmitting data from the hard drive (spyware)
    • Disrupt certain components and render the system inoperable
  • Virus: A piece of code that attaches to a file, document, or program and, once implemented, duplicates itself and spreads to other parts of the computer system or network. Visiting unsafe websites, downloading or sharing corrupt files, or opening suspicious email attachments are ways to contract a virus. Viruses can gather personal information, take up storage space, corrupt data, spam email or completely disable a computer.
  • Phishing: The use of emails or websites that appear legitimate and encourage users to enter personal information, such as emails, passwords, credit card information and social security numbers. Attackers can then use this information to steal personally identifiable information, gain access to a computer or install malicious software.
  • Denial-of-Service: An attack which renders a computer service unavailable. The attack occurs by overloading a computer server or network with requests to prevent users from utilizing the service.

The Impacts of a Security Incident on your Organization

Cybersecurity involves more than protecting your systems and data, it means safeguarding your business's reputation. A cyberattack can have serious consequences for your business, including:

  • Systems failing or running slowly, leading to poor customer service and lack of responsiveness
  • Lost, inaccessible or compromised customer, employee or company data
  • Strain on internal resources and management, including potential loss in revenue, delays and diminished productivity
  • Unplanned costs due to a compromised environment
  • Exposed employee or personal information
  • Loss of trust by your customers or clients

Taking Proactive Steps

Research shows that many organizations are either ill-equipped or do not have the necessary plans in place to combat the most common cybersecurity threats. While it’s easy to think, “I’ll deal with it if it happens,” the costs associated with cybersecurity are significantly higher when it is reactionary versus planned and budgeted. When it comes to your network, tools, and data, it’s imperative that you’re taking the right steps to minimize the threat of a cybersecurity breach.

Measuring the state of your IT environment and understanding your current security risk is something you should be doing on an ongoing basis. With the constant changes in technology, your business needs to regularly “health check” your IT. From your processes to your tools, network, and security practices, smart business is all about adapting to change and remaining secure. The last thing you want to do is leave yourself — and your data — out in the open.

Want to dive deeper? We’ve compiled an in-depth guide to cybersecurity to help you keep your organization secure.

Measuring Your Risk

So, what does good IT “health” look like today? How do you measure your current security risk? What questions should you be asking? And where should you focus your energy?

Measuring your IT environment and security risk is really no different than any other type of risk management. It’s a constant process, and it requires ongoing, continuous attention.

To help you measure and compare your business against industry standards, we’ve made a helpful security questionnaire. Our team of IT professionals has identified 15 questions to help gauge your current security risk areas and assess your overall IT health. Most importantly, the results will provide tips to help you make actionable improvements now.

From data backups to your administrative protocols and password protection processes, this IT quiz will give you some quick wins to take back to your organization. Know how your security stacks up while learning best practices for optimum network stability, disaster recovery, and IT health.

IT Health Check

No matter where you land on the risk scale, sometimes you just need a second opinion. One set of questions can certainly provide a nice overview, but there’s no substitute for a comprehensive security assessment.

A Trustworthy Cybersecurity Team Can Help

With direction and guidance from cybersecurity professionals, you can better understand your risks and empower the right people, processes and technology to protect your data. With a clear plan and trustworthy team, you can prevent, detect and respond to new cyberattacks and threats.

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