Is Your In-House IT Team Equipped To Deal With Security?
An honest evaluation of your in-house IT department’s security capabilities is challenging because it means assessing your business. Looking at your in-house IT team goes beyond individual skills or expertise. It means reviewing your finances and your culture. It’s understanding the cybersecurity landscape to ensure adequate protection is in place now and in the future.
Do You Know the Cybersecurity Landscape?
According to Gartner, the cybersecurity landscape in 2022 has moved beyond centralized security defenses. If your current network security configuration follows a moat model where defenses protect against attacks from beyond the moat (outside the perimeter), then your security infrastructure is at risk. Today’s landscape encompasses cloud, hybrid, and on-premise configurations, with remote access being a universal requirement. Defending against cyberattacks is no longer enough. Organizations must be proactive in their approach to cybersecurity.
Specific recommendations to protect against 2022 security attacks include:
Cover the Entire Attack Surface
With the COVID-19 pandemic spurring drastic transformation in the workforce, Gartner expects that a least 18% of remote team members will not return to the office full-time. That means there will be more access points for hackers to exploit and great IT needs for businesses to address. Supply chain connections and hybrid environments present different vulnerabilities from the traditional on-premise only configuration. Without updated tools that provide end-to-end protection, your business is a breach waiting to happen.
Strengthen Identity Defenses
Credential misuse continues to be the primary attack method for cybercriminals. Ticketmaster used an ex-employee’s credentials to spy on rivals in 2021. SolarWinds credential breach created a supply chain attack that impacted hundreds. A nation-state attack exploited a known vulnerability of Microsoft’s on-premise exchange server. Zero-trust frameworks with a security-first culture can also help minimize the risk of unauthorized access because of stolen credentials.
Protect Your Supply Chain
Protecting your supply chain includes securing your software supply chain. As SolarWinds highlighted, cybersecurity attacks can come through software providers. Even Microsoft’s Exchange Server hack illustrates how lax updating of software can create a security weakness years later. Because organizations failed to update their in-house security software, hackers were able to exploit a known vulnerability to gain access. Securing your operations means assessing risks associated with a digital as well as a traditional supply chain.
Distribute Security Decision Making
As attack surfaces increase and supply chains expand, centralized security decisions can slow a cybersecurity response. More organizations are distributing the decision-making process. While security policies remain with a cybersecurity officer, security professionals are placed closer to endpoints for more agile responses. The approach does make for greater flexibility; it also adds to the staffing requirements for an organization.
Consider a Cybersecurity Mesh
Cybersecurity mesh refers to a cybersecurity architecture that provides interoperability among resources for a more comprehensive framework to secure assets. Defining perimeters while creating an infrastructure allows real-time connectivity for flexible responses that can scale. Integrating security and analytical tools improve response times. According to Gartner, 90% of organizations will be using a cybersecurity mesh architecture by 2024.
Create a Security First Culture
Finally, Gartner suggests that the existing security awareness programs are insufficient to protect against today’s cyber threats. Because human error continues to be the primary cause of data breaches, organizations need to create a security-oriented culture rather than isolated training initiatives. Your internal teams should be educated and prepared about the dangers of malware, ransomware, and other security threats BEFORE a disaster occurs.
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Do You Support A Security-First Culture?
The problem with security awareness programs is they are often created as stand-alone solutions for building a security culture. For awareness training to work, it must be part of a culture where security is as much a part of its values as integrity, respect, or sustainability.
Make Security a Core Value
Do your company’s core values include honesty, accountability, or respect? Have you considered how your cybersecurity policies reflect those values? If a core value is a respect, how well do your cybersecurity policies and business processes demonstrate your respect for customer data? What happens to your reputation if a breach occurs?
According to IBM’s latest data breach report, lost business is one of the top factors in assessing the total cost of a data breach or significant IT downtime. Organizations find it more difficult to retain customers and require more resources to attract new ones. Customers simply lose confidence in organizations that do not secure customer data.
Managing a cultural change requires commitment from the top down. Employees need to see strong support before they embrace change. For example, appoint “security culture officers” who are responsible for injecting security facts, statistics, and stories into everyday activities. Only by creating an environment where security is embedded in day-to-day operations can an organization achieve a security-first mindset.
Make Everyone Accountable
Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. IT experts shouldn’t be the only group that is held accountable. IBM’s report indicated that the majority of data breaches are the result of human error. Whether it is a misconfigured firewall or a successful phishing attack, a lapse in security awareness can have far-reaching consequences.
Although employees may be the weakest cybersecurity link, they are also your organization’s last line of defense. If an email containing a malicious link makes it past security defenses, it is up to the recipient to report the questionable email and not click on the link. Unless employees understand the role they play in maintaining cyber defenses, they may not realize the full impact of their actions. Making sure that everyone is aware of security policies and practices ensures everyone understands cybersecurity accountability.
Make Security Training a Priority
Security training must occur in an environment where the cultural foundation ensures its application. Providing awareness training once or twice a year cannot compete with hackers who work 24/7/365. If onboarding doesn’t include security policies, employees will not view it as an essential part of their work experience.
Making the training more meaningful eliminates that “check-the-box” mentality. Try interactive experiences or simulations to engage employees. Look at video content. Don’t underestimate the value of a stand-up security meeting when a new threat emerges.
Training also applies to IT personnel. Will your business be willing to pay for certifications? As part of their career development, can you map out a path to provide them with the skills they need? Multiple avenues exist for cybersecurity education and certification, but they all require time and money. If your company doesn’t have the resources for training, building a security-first culture will fail. How committed can an organization be to security if it doesn’t invest in or equip its people?
Do You Have The Staff?
Cybercrime is expected to increase at a rate of 15% per year. Its economic value is already the size of the third-largest country in the world. Yet, 62% of security teams were understaffed, according to a recent survey. Over 60% of respondents had unfilled positions on their in-house team. Even with the high demand, companies took more than six months to find a qualified candidate. If equipping your IT team requires adding personnel, that avenue may be unavailable or not very cost-effective.
If your company does land a cybersecurity candidate, you may have difficulty retaining them. According to the same survey, 60% of respondents indicated they had difficulty retaining staff. Many smaller organizations are losing staff to corporations that offer higher compensation, better advancement opportunities, or more flexible work schedules. Approximately 50% of responding companies said that work stress and burnout also contributed to the increasing turnover rate.
Employees are focused on work-life balance. With more time spent working from home, many people want a more flexible work environment. Many have changed their priorities. Increased compensation and advancement opportunities still attract candidates, but they are no longer the only factors when looking for employment. Younger candidates also consider environmental and social issues when looking at potential employers. They are more likely to want to have their values align with their professionals.
Many employers struggle to find dependable candidates. With more hybrid work environments, companies without remote work policies may find staff unavailable during critical work hours. A more distributed workforce means finding IT staff with strong soft skills such as communication and collaboration. Employers also realize a need for better problem-solving skills as businesses move through uncharted territory.
How Do You Equip Your IT Team to Deal With Cybersecurity?
Building strong cyber defenses goes beyond having staff with the necessary security skills. It involves having the resources to maintain those defenses in the face of an ever-changing landscape. As technology advances, so will the techniques used to compromise those improvements. Unless you have the financial resources to ensure that your staff remains up-to-date with their skills, you may want to consider supplementing your in-house expertise with outsourced IT services.
When resources are scarce, businesses may not have the people needed to build a security-first culture. IT may be overwhelmed with existing projects, so devoting personnel to help educate staff may not be possible. However, failing to build the right culture places your business at risk for a successful cyber event. Finding an outsourced cybersecurity service provider to help educate staff and provide added security support may be the best approach to securing your company.
Cybersecurity threats are as much a threat to your business as your competition. About 60% of small businesses will close after a cyber event. For larger corporations, the financial losses can average more than $3 million, taking away critical funding for business expansion.