How To Manage Your Digital Risk In Real-Time


Your Digital Risk Profile

The speed of business and the amount of competition continues to increase and has forever changed the way we do business. The internet allows consumers and prospects to easily find solutions to their problems with the simple click of a button. In an effort to adjust to this change of pace, businesses are fundamentally changing the way that they operate and deliver value to their customers. They are incorporating more digital technology into every aspect of their business. Some of these changes include: 

  • Cloud computing
  • Social media marketing
  • Data analytics
  • IoT (Internet of Things)
  • Robotics
  • AI and machine learning

Individually or collectively, each one of these digital transformations can have a dramatic impact on a business. We have seen how cloud computing can allow us to work and communicate regardless of where we are in the world. As more business leaders look at technology to streamline production, increase efficiency and save on resources, it has become abundantly clear that a business will not survive in the future economy without undergoing some sort of digital transformation. Your digital risk profile looks at how implementing any of these digital transformations will increase the likelihood and impact of a cyberattack. 

Factors That Affect Your Digital Risk Profile

There are many different factors that you should consider when creating your digital risk profile. Here are a few of the most important things that will help you to determine your exposure to a catastrophic cyberattack. 

Business Complexity

The size and complexity of your business will have a major impact on your digital risk profile. For example, if you are a small company, operating out of a single location with very few remote workers, then your digital attack surface will be relatively small in comparison to a company with multiple locations and a large number of remote workers. 

Keep in mind that every employee that you have in your company represents at least four different points of exposure. You must be able to protect their network login credentials, the device they are using, the connection they use to access the network and their access to any third-party cloud applications that they use. This is the reason why regardless of the size of your company, it is important to have a team dedicated to cybersecurity – even small companies become victims of cyberattacks on a daily basis!

Is Your Business Highly Reliant on Technology?

Businesses of all sizes rely on technology for their day-to-day operations. However, not all of them do so to the same extent. There are some companies that do not require high-tech innovations, while others will require more sophisticated solutions in order for them to achieve their strategic goals. Your level of risk and exposure to cyberattacks will depend on how reliant on technology your business is. 

The Type of Data Handled

Not all businesses will be handling the same type or volume of data. For example, if you are a local retailer that is sending out newsletters, then you might have your customers name, email address, phone number and physical address on file. While that data is important, the impact to your business would be minimal if that data were to be compromised or stolen. However, if you work with protected health information (PHI), financial records, classified government information, or personally identifiable information (PII), then the theft of that data would have a much greater impact on your business. Either way, your digital risk profile should account for the sensitivity level of the data that you have in your possession. 

Type of New Technology Implemented

In recent years, over 60% of businesses have undergone some sort of digital transformation. This has caused them to invest in systems and infrastructures that increase their business’ attack surface. And the more high-tech the innovation is, the greater the risk and impact that it tends to carry. For example, businesses that are implementing AI, predictive modelling, data analytics, and robotic process automation (RPA), have a much higher risk profile. Since the deployment of these technologies are relatively new, it is hard to adequately protect them. Think about it, it is tough to build defenses around something when you do not know all of the different ways that it can be exploited or compromised. 

Your Cloud Reliability

Clouds are undoubtedly an efficient way for businesses to streamline their operation, keep on top of governance and compliance, and give employees access to documents in real-time no matter where they are. However, cloud systems do carry some inherent risks. Your cloud solution is where most, if not all, of your data will be stored. This solution will be accessible by multiple users, from different devices and in different locations. Even with strong password policies in place, if we think back to the fact that every person represents at least four points of exposure, the likelihood of some sort of breach remains extremely high. 

Third-Party Relationships

If your third-party vendors have access to your data, then it is critical that you understand the security measures that they have in place. A study conducted in 2018 showed that just under 60% of companies had experienced a data breach because of a third-party vendor. Each one of the third-party vendors that you use has a direct impact on your digital risk profile. Therefore, when purchasing a new tech product or changing your business process, it is crucial to consult with a cybersecurity expert. 

As we mentioned, these are just a few of the things that you need to consider when developing your digital risk profile. The best way to uncover all of your areas of risk is to utilize an assessment tool or to have a security provider do a complete vulnerability assessment. Putting together a complete digital risk profile is the only way that you can create a digital risk strategy that will actually protect you and your business.

How Do You Manage Your Digital Risk In Real-Time?

These days, every business has the basic defensive cyber security equipment in place. Things like a firewall, intrusion protection, URL filtering, email filtering and antivirus. But the fact that security breaches still go undetected for 206 days, just goes to show that doing the “basics” is not enough to keep you protected. 

That is almost seven months of someone having access to your system without you even knowing. During that time, criminals not only have access to your financials, your intellectual property and your client data, but they also have the ability to use your infrastructure to launch more attacks. 

If you are in a regulated industry, deal with government contracts, or simply have a low tolerance for risk, then you need to know if you have suffered a security breach as soon as possible. Here are five things that will reduce your digital risk and provide real-time protection to you and your business. 

Policies and Procedures

As simple as it sounds, everything starts with having good policies and procedures that govern the use of technology for your company. Your employees are, and always will be, the weakest link in your cybersecurity strategy. Studies show that humans are the cause of 90% of the data breaches that we witness. This is because employees share passwords, use unapproved cloud applications, click on malicious websites and attachments, and share sensitive data through emails. The first step in curving this unwanted behavior is by having good policies in place that prohibit these things. But having the policies in place is not enough. You must also strictly enforce these policies in order to develop a security minded culture within your company.

Ongoing Security Awareness Training

The threats that we face continue to not only increase in frequency, but also in the financial impact that they are having. So much so, that it is expected that the damages caused by cybercriminal activity will soar upwards of $6 trillion USD. Criminals are constantly evolving their skills and finding new ways to get inside of companies. Rather than trying to break through your defenses, most of these tactics are designed to target and trick your employees into doing something that will allow them to get around your defenses. In order to combat these constantly evolving threats, you must provide your people with ongoing security awareness training. 

Sitting through a boring security training class given by an IT professional once a quarter, or even worse once a year, has proven to be ineffective. These types of training sessions are great if you simply want to check a box for compliance, but not if you are actually trying to protect your business. The reason that these types of sessions do not work is because they contain too much information to try and digest in one sitting, the tactics that are covered are likely to be outdated soon and they do nothing to keep security top of mind in your day-to-day operations. 

Businesses that have successfully created a security minded culture within their organization have deployed a monthly training program that utilizes micro trainings. These trainings are designed around real-world events and educate employees on how to avoid the latest tactics that criminals are using. By shortening the trainings to cover one topic at a time, employees can easily comprehend and retain the information they are given. Providing these trainings on a monthly basis helps to keep security top of mind and helps to promote a security over convenience culture throughout your organization. 

Security Operations Center (SOC)

A Security Operations Center (SOC) is a dedicated team of security experts who use advanced tools to thoroughly monitor your IT network infrastructure for threats, including those from malicious insiders. This specialized team has a single focus – to monitor and analyze a business’s security posture in real-time 24x7x365. 

The SOC team monitors and analyzes the activity on networks, servers, endpoints, databases, applications, websites, and other systems, looking for anomalies that indicate a security incident has occurred or system has been compromised. The SOC is responsible for ensuring that potential security incidents are correctly identified, analyzed, defended, investigated, and reported. That includes both internal and external threats.

Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR)

Your endpoints (i.e. laptops, desktops, mobile phones, tablets, servers etc.) are the first things that criminals look to compromise in order to gain access to your network and data. There are hundreds of thousands of new viruses discovered every single day that you must defend against. Antivirus is quickly becoming less effective at protecting your devices against these rapidly evolving threats. Deploying an Endpoint Detection & Response (EDR) solution is how you can address these concerns.

A properly managed EDR solution will provide your business with the means to monitor, detect, and respond to endpoint threats in real-time. Giving your security team this level of visibility, eliminates the blind spots that criminals love to attack.  

Dark Web Monitoring

One of the easiest ways that criminals get into businesses is through the use of compromised login credentials. Since people tend to use their work email to setup personal online accounts (i.e. Amazon, Netflix, Apple etc.), their company login credentials could become compromised every time one of these vendors has a data breach. These compromised login credentials can easily be purchased on the dark web. Dark web monitoring will help you to mitigate this risk.

With Dark Web Monitoring, you will have 24/7/365 surveillance to make sure that your security team is immediately notified as soon as one of your employee’s credentials are detected on the dark web. This gives them the ability to quickly change that employee’s credentials before they can be used to compromise your business. 

Why You Should Consider A Security Service Provider

Having an in-house IT team or a third-party Managed Services Provider (MSP) is great to keep your systems running and to assist with strategic planning. But these two options often fall short when it comes to providing complete protection to your business. There are a number of reasons for this, but the biggest is a lack of resources. 

The issue here isn’t just the fact that your team is spread too thin (though that plays a role). It is also the fact that most IT department staff don’t have the necessary credentials and tools to effectively manage digital risk. 

Research from ESG, for instance, finds that 51 percent of organizations have a “problematic shortage” of relevant cybersecurity skills. Further studies suggest that there will be more than 3.5 million unfilled security roles by 2021. 

While some companies have the requisite skills to manage digital risks, the vast majority do not. Certified Information Security Managers (CISMs), Certified Ethical Hackers (CEHs), Certified Information Systems Security Professionals (CISSPs), and Certified Information Security Auditors (CISAs) are all incredibly scarce.

Bottom Line

In this fast-paced digital world that we live in, the viability of your business is dependent upon your ability to quickly adapt to market changes. As you evaluate and deploy technology solutions in response to the market, don’t forget to evaluate your risk. Protecting your digital assets must be a priority and it all starts with assessing your digital risk. Understanding your digital risk profile will allow you to make wiser and faster decisions, which in turn will allow you to deploy solutions and go to market faster. 

How confident are you that the basic security measures that you have in place will actually keep you protected? Criminals have proven time and time again that they are not only able to get around these security measures, but they are able to do it without you even knowing. You’ve worked hard to build and navigate your business through tough times. Don’t let an unnecessary risk put all of that hard work in jeopardy.

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