Business Basics: The 5 Pillars of Strong Cybersecurity


December 20, 2021

A single lapse in cybersecurity can lead to ramifications that echo through every aspect of your business. From your brand reputation and customer loyalty to the everyday processes that keep your orders rolling in and emails flowing out, no function is immune to attack. 

In fact, in the modern world, organisations have more vulnerabilities than ever. Every application, employee, supplier, device, and even your cloud storage and social media accounts are potential attack vectors.

Business cybersecurity is about protecting data

Data has become the new highly-prized commodity, with both individual hackers and highly organised crime syndicates going to great lengths to compromise it. The reason? Compromised data is as valuable as a hacked system, with syndicates like REvil successfully extracting millions through ransomware attacks that leverage sensitive data. 

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to protect your technology, software, systems, accounts, and even your employees from being targeted by hackers. The following five business cybersecurity steps are key. 

Work with an IT support company that understands your business security needs

A robust business cybersecurity strategy will include such things as firewalls, malware protection, anti-spam, password protection, and user authentication. However, the best Managed Service Provider (MSP) or IT support company will not give you an off-the-shelf cybersecurity solution. Instead, they will analyse your business for any and all exploitable weaknesses before constructing a tailor-made plan that targets these weaknesses and takes your needs and concerns into account. 

Top MSPs will take cybersecurity a step further by including 24/7 remote monitoring in your package. This means that if an attack is launched on a public holiday or weekend, you’ll still have instant action taken.  

For truly thorough protection, it’s worth checking if your MSP or IT support company is willing to offer training or education to you and your staff or contractors. Not all IT support companies offer this, but Invotec has found that through educating our clients on the safe use of technology, we’re able to close up potential attack vectors and prevent problems instead of fixing them after the fact. 

Invotec’s skilled technicians are happy to educate clients and their teams on safe web browsing, how to recognise phishing emails, mobile device security, cybersecurity protocols to follow when not at work, and more. This step is vital in protecting your business from the increasingly popular third-party attacks that target you and your employees both within the workplace and at home. 

Understand your critical assets

For bank managers and jewellers, understanding the critical assets is easy. If a heist goes down, they know the cash and the diamonds are at risk. Thanks to this knowledge, they know where to focus their security measures. 

Unfortunately, cyberattacks are rarely this obvious. Data and digital assets are far more nebulous, so it’s important to gain an understanding of what you have that criminals may wish to target.  

For example, a hospital may assume criminals would go after prescription medication or patient records. While these could be attractive targets, failing to recognise the value in the operating system itself could prove catastrophic. Encrypting a hospital’s systems can halt vital operations, and with no time for bargaining, it’s common for businesses to simply comply with ransom demands. 

With this in mind, it’s essential to explore every aspect of your business that could be a valuable target for criminals. This can be everything from sensitive client data to your email servers, so be prepared for the list to be far longer than you imagined.

Understand your potential attack vectors

Once you have a map of the assets you need to protect, it will be easier to see the paths cybercriminals may take to reach them. And once you’ve added these paths to your map, you’ll have a far clearer idea of the steps you need to take to protect your company and its assets. 

Some of the more common vectors for cybersecurity breaches in the 2020s include: 

  • Phishing emails – These can be sent to professional and private emails, with the potential to compromise the device on which the malicious link is opened;
  • Malware – This can manifest as DDoS attacks, ransomware, and more;
  • Employee-based data leaks – This can be an accidental leak (e.g. an employee accidentally CCs external parties into an internal email containing sensitive information) or a malicious internal attack (e.g. an employee copies sensitive information onto a USB drive and sells it to an external party);
  • Watering hole attacks – Here, a forum or other website frequented by your employees may be targeted in order to gain access to their devices, and eventually, your systems or data. 
  • Supply chain weaknesses – Another third-party attack in which a supplier or customer of yours with less robust cybersecurity may be targeted, potentially allowing the criminals to access your data or systems. 
  • Misconfiguration – Anything from software bots to website plugins can be misconfigured in such a way that it exposes your organisation to threats. 
  • Weak passwords – You’d be surprised at how many employees still use P@ssword or their child’s name and birthdate as a professional password. Many also use the same weak password for multiple accounts. 
  • Remote employees – As beneficial as a remote workforce can be, many home-based employees do not have firewalls or other essential business security measures in place. 

Communication is key to developing robust business cybersecurity

It’s essential for you to understand the above points. However, for this security awareness to do you any good, it must be shared by your employees and relevant stakeholders. By developing a culture of security awareness, you can foster the kind of behaviour that will protect you from cyberattacks. 

This may mean educating employees and ensuring they understand that cybersecurity is more than just an issue for the IT department to handle. It may also mean contacting your suppliers and customers to let them know about the security measures you’re taking to protect them and their data. At the same time, you may wish to engage with them to determine what they are doing to protect you and the other businesses in their supply chain. 

Conduct cybersecurity drills to prepare for worst-case scenarios

Most business owners conduct regular fire drills and alarm testing. However, few apply this valuable practice to cybersecurity threats. The results are analogous to a business that doesn’t test its evacuation plan. Employees end up panicking and running in all directions when an emergency occurs, and the right steps are either missed or followed far too late.

Just as you want your employees to remain calm and take appropriate actions if a physical alarm sounds in your workplace, so too do you want them to immediately take the right steps if a cyber threat arises. 

One of the most interesting pieces of information to come out of Facebook’s infamous outage on October 6, 2021, was that the company does regular cybersecurity drills (aka “storm drills”). According to Facebook’s official statement,

“In a storm exercise, we simulate a major system failure by taking a service, data center, or entire region offline, stress testing all the infrastructure and software involved. Experience from these drills gave us the confidence and experience to bring things back online and carefully manage the increasing loads.”  

While Facebook was out for around six hours and hemorrhaged a significant amount of money during this time, they argue the situation would have been much worse if they didn’t have the storm drill preparation under their belts. The outage was caused by an unprecedented internal error, but the drills conducted still helped employees take appropriate steps. 

Of course, determining what drills to conduct and how to carry them out is a complex undertaking. If your IT department lacks the time and/or resources, this can be a valuable task to outsource to an MSP that specialises in such testing. 
If you have any questions about cybersecurity drills, strategy, attack vectors, or any of the other issues raised in this article, contact us today to speak to one of our highly-trained technicians. If you’d like to get started on a cybersecurity strategy for your business, use the form below to arrange a consultation and quote.

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