Modern-day businesses rely on the internet for everything from managing funds to communicating with colleagues and customers, and overseeing daily operations. And, although improved technology offers added convenience and time savings, it also introduces a range of risks and liabilities. A strategic approach to cyber risk management can help keep important information safe, reputations protected and businesses on safer ground altogether.
Here, BCH’s risk management professionals offer insights into common cybersecurity threats making the rounds today, and ways to incorporate cyber risk management efforts into everyday operations.
A High-Level Look at Common Cybersecurity Issues
Before a company can adequately protect against cybersecurity issues, it must understand what those issues are. The following is a list of many — but not all — common ways cybercriminals go after businesses, and tips to help companies mitigate risks.
- Phishing Attacks: Use of deceptive emails or messages to trick employees into revealing sensitive information or clicking on malicious links. When employees fall victim to phishing attacks it places companies at risk of issues such as data breaches, financial losses and reputation damage.
Mitigation Tip: Train employees in how to recognize and respond to — or report — phishing attempts. Implementing robust email filtering and authentication systems also helps.
- Ransomware Attacks: A type of attack where bad actors use malware to encrypt a company’s data, making files and information virtually impossible to access. These individuals then demand a ransom for the data’s release. Falling victim to a ransomware attack can lead to significant downtime and data loss for a company, as well as financial extortion.
Mitigation Tip: Regularly back up important data, keep systems up to date and educate employees about the dangers of downloading or opening suspicious files.
- Insider Threats: Risks that originate within an organization, insider threats can involve malicious actions or unintentional mistakes by employees. This can include the access, disclosure or deletion of sensitive information, or misuse of company systems or assets. Such actions can result in data leaks, fraud or other breaches.
Mitigation Tip:< Implement access controls, conduct background checks on employees and foster a culture of cybersecurity awareness./li>
- Data Breaches: When unauthorized individuals gain access to sensitive customer, company or employee data. Data breach fallout can include legal liabilities, reputational damage and regulatory fines.
Mitigation Tip: Encrypt sensitive data, monitor network traffic for unusual activities, keep IT systems up to date and comply with data protection regulations.
- Supply Chain Vulnerabilities: Supply chain attacks target weaknesses in a company’s third-party vendors or partners, which can compromise the security of the entire network.
Mitigation Tip: Conduct thorough security assessments of your third-party vendors and establish stringent security standards for them.
- Zero-Day Exploits: Vulnerabilities in software or hardware that are unknown to the vendor. Cybercriminals often exploit these before a patch is available, leading to potential breaches.
Mitigation Tip: Keep software and systems updated, invest in threat intelligence and employ network intrusion detection systems.
- Internet of Things (IoT) Vulnerabilities: As businesses increasingly adopt IoT devices, or devices equipped with sensors and software that connect to the internet, they become vulnerable to attacks that target these devices. Compromised IoT devices can be used as entry points to the corporate network.
Mitigation Tip: Segment IoT devices from the main network, change default credentials, incorporate hard-to-guess passwords and regularly update IoT firmware.
- Social Engineering Attacks: Approaches that manipulate employees into divulging sensitive information or making financial transactions. These attacks are often carried out by bad actors pretending to be known company leaders.
Mitigation Tip: Educate employees on how to spot and respond to social engineering tactics, implement multi-factor authentication and encourage employees to verify requests that come through.
Interested in learning other ways to safeguard against threats? Our Top Cybersecurity Trends and Risk Factors blog post offers actionable steps you can put in place fairly quickly.
Incorporating Cybersecurity Risk Management into Your Company’s Approach
Solid risk management efforts are crucial for any company looking to protect its investment and operate in the safest, most strategic manner possible. But with cyber threats’ ever-evolving nature, staying on top of things isn’t easy. We recommend working closely with your risk management professional to craft a cybersecurity risk management plan that serves your unique needs and protects against the latest threats. Here’s some guidance to get conversations started and keep efforts on track.
- Identify Assets and Vulnerabilities Collaboratively
The first step in integrating cybersecurity into your risk management plan is to identify your digital assets and vulnerabilities. Your risk management team, company leadership and IT professionals should work together to create a comprehensive inventory of assets, including data, systems and networks. At the same time, they should identify potential vulnerabilities and threats to these assets. By bringing together people from different parts of the company — and with different specialties, too — it helps ensure all aspects of your organization’s risks are considered.
- Assess and Prioritize Risks Holistically
Once your group has identified company vulnerabilities, it’s time to evaluate the various risks. This assessment should factor in the potential financial, operational and reputational impacts cyber threats would have on daily operations and the company as a whole. By working together, you can make informed decisions about which risks require immediate attention — and then allocate resources and efforts accordingly.
- Develop a Comprehensive Risk Mitigation and Response Strategy
With your trusted risk management professional taking the lead, it’s time to define risk tolerance levels, create incident response plans and implement cybersecurity controls that keep important information protected — and keep your company compliant with applicable regulations. Remember, cyber threats are constantly changing. Collaborate with your risk management team and cybersecurity pros to establish monitoring mechanisms, conduct regular risk assessments and adjust your mitigation strategy as needed.
- Foster a Culture of Cybersecurity Awareness
A well-trained team is your best line of defense against cyber threats. Implement training programs and awareness campaigns that educate employees about cybersecurity best practices — and offer regular reminders to keep that information top of mind. When everyone in the organization is vigilant and informed, your overall risk profile is significantly reduced.
For additional guidance into protecting against emerging cybersecurity threats — including the growing risks associated with artificial intelligence (AI) — download our Cyber Risks & Liabilities quick sheet.
Incorporating cyber risks into your company’s overall risk management approach is an important step in today’s technology-driven world. Rest assured it’s much easier when you have a trusted risk advisor on your side. If you have questions about any of the above, or if you’re interested in learning how BCH can help your company stand protected, please reach out to our team at any time. We’re here to help!