// the basics //

Why is Cybersecurity Important?

Cybercrime is a global problem that’s been dominating the news cycle. It poses a threat to individual security and an even bigger threat to businesses. With so many access points, public IP’s and constant traffic, and tons of data unsecured, hackers are having the time of their lives exploiting vulnerabilities.

You need to know where you and your business are positioned by identifying the vulnerabilities and risk level. Defined by PwC: “Cyber risk is any risk associated with financial loss, disruption or damage to the reputation of an organization from failure, unauthorized or erroneous use of its information systems.” Once you know your cyber risk you can make an educated decision if you want to mitigate it or even accept it. This is exactly why you need cybersecurity.

Cyberattacks Happen.

With an ever-evolving digital landscape of threats, hacks, breaches, and vulnerabilities, it is imperative to invest in cybersecurity. The challenge of securing personal information, intellectual property, and critical data has increased together with our use of and dependence on the internet, corporate networks, and digital devices. It may be easy to ignore it and take the “it will never happen to me or my business” position. We get it, cybersecurity can be overwhelming, but that’s why Empowered IT Solutions is here. We believe all businesses deserve powerful and cost-effective cybersecurity posture to protect their operations from cyber threats.

So Where Do You Start?

We want to stop cyber criminals from hurting businesses and people like you so the information below can help you understand the cyber threats that are targeting your business and how to proactively defend against them. If you have any questions, or if there’s anything further we can do to help, please reach out. We’ve got your back.

// Adopting A Security Mindset //

What is Cybersecurity?

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), cybersecurity is:
The ability to protect or defend the use of cyberspace from cyber attacks..

What does that mean? Cybersecurity refers to a set of systems, people training, and procedures used to protect the integrity of networks, programs, and data from attack, damage, or unauthorized access. It is designed to maintain the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of your information.

Understanding Your IT Operations

You have to know what you’re securing in order to keep it safe. A good starting point for improving your cybersecurity and securing your IT network is assessing and understanding the full scope of your threats. It’s important to know all the parts of your IT network where cybercriminals could identify security gaps or potential vulnerabilities, and gain access. This is vital for building an ongoing, proactive cybersecurity defense as a solid understanding of every aspect of your IT operations will help you assess potential cyber risks facing the systems and technologies you rely on every day.

Understanding the Major Cyberthreats

A cyberthreat is the possibility of a successful cyber-attack that aims to gain unauthorized access to damage, disrupt, or steal sensitive data. And just like your IT network, threats are always evolving and changing. This happens at a much faster pace, however, and hackers are always looking for new ways to gain access to your network such as exploiting vulnerabilities, infecting systems with malware, and deceiving users into clicking emails with malicious links.

Cyberthreats represent one of the greatest risks to your business. A single attack can have wide-ranging effects, that impact not only the day-to-day operations, financials, and reputation of your company, but also the safety of your staff and customers.

Did you know that cybercriminals rely on human error as much as they do software tools to hack into your organization? Nearly a quarter of all data breaches can be traced back to human error, so educating and training your employees on cybersecurity basics and best practices can dramatically help reduce the chances of a successful attack.

Most software patches are provided specifically because a developer identified a vulnerability in the code, so it’s very important to take the time to apply these patches. How often do you click the “remind me later” button when your computer prompts you about a software update? It’s a bad habit that too many of us fall into, and it could have dire consequences for your business

Over half of all computer users reuse the same password across all their accounts, making it easy for hackers to get access to all their accounts in a single successful attack. All it takes is one cracked password to gain access to a wide number of accounts and systems. For peace of mind, use a password management application to automate the creation and use of strong, hard-to-crack passwords. You can read more on how to create strong and secure passwords here.

Making use of antivirus and a firewall can provide a good layer of protection from these cyber-attacks facing your business, however, additional defenses are needed. As an extra level of security, you should have endpoint security measures that prevent the execution of suspicious programs and services, restrict privileges and reduce the probability of infection of the systems. Also, very important is to have a backup. While a data backup cannot prevent an attack, it can ensure you have access to any data you have backed up so you can continue normal operations in the event of a cyber-attack.

Attacks can happen at any time, so the ability to monitor all networks continually is key to protecting your business. Cyber threat monitoring provides your business with the ability to detect suspicious or potentially malicious activity that could signal a future attack early on. Empowered IT Solutions has tools that detect and monitor all the activity happening in your IT environment and will act on any potential threats and risks before they become serious issues.

// managing cybersecurity risks //

NIST Cybersecurity Framework

The increased complexity and connectivity of our world and its critical infrastructure systems make cybersecurity a vital component of an organization’s overall risk management. To address these risks, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed a set of security measures and controls to help “identify, assess, and manage cyber risks.”

Each organization has unique risks: different threats, different vulnerabilities, different risk tolerances. For this reason, the NIST CST provides actionable data to management so that they can weigh and trade-offs appropriately. The framework provides standards, guidelines, and practices for organizations to:

The core of the Framework consists of five functions:

  • Identify

    Categorizing the organization’s assets that need to be protected and defining cybersecurity roles and responsibilities within the organization.

  • Protect

    Implementing safeguards to ensure the protection of the identified critical assets

  • Detect

    Developing mechanisms to identify the occurrence of cybersecurity incidents.

  • Respond

    Creating techniques and taking action when a cybersecurity incident is detected.

  • Recover

    Maintaining processes to restore any capabilities or services that were impaired due to a cybersecurity incident

These functions provide an organization with strategic management of cybersecurity risk. To help implement the NIST cybersecurity framework as part of your risk management strategy, the institute has created thorough documentation of the CSF on its website, along with FAQs, and other resources.

Although it can be a real challenge to implement, the framework is a worthwhile investment as it will improve the security posture of your organization. The cybersecurity experts at Empowered IT Solutions have helped many organizations implement the NIST CSF without financial or operational challenges. Reach out to us by clicking the button below to learn how Empowered IT can help.