Cyber Threats

27 May 2018

Cybersecurity – Mind the Gaps

Cybersecurity is fast becoming one of the biggest threats a company can face. The explosion of the `Internet of Things’ (IoT) and the ability to network all manner of devices and objects to deliver efficiencies has created complex IT infrastructures that are growing more complicated every year. For example, even a small to medium sized business could have multiple desktops, laptops, servers and storage platforms, mobile devices and apps all working alongside each other at any time. Each device comes with its own security risk and each has the potential to disrupt the wider network of activities if it suffers a security breach.

Businesses grappling with how to manage IT complexity, face several challenges when it comes to implementing effective security across their infrastructure. Four of the most significant include; minimising the time taken to react to an issue, mapping our IT infrastructure to understand potential weaknesses, lack of cybersecurity-trained employees and how to devise a training strategy that will embed a culture of cyber-awareness throughout the organisation.

Cybersecurity Challenges:

  1. Infrastructure Mapping

A typical company’s IT infrastructure is complex and vast. From devices to the cloud, to servers and networked computers or laptops and mobiles, this technology powers the company.

The boom of the digital revolution has infinitely sped up transactions and interactions linking huge numbers of products, assets, monitors and sensors to the internet, all gathering data. Gartner estimated by 2020, 20.8 billion ‘things’ will be connected to the internet worldwide, compared to 6.4 billion in 2016.

When considering cybersecurity, the difficulty in having so many data points is monitoring them and therefore gaps begin to emerge, and each makes an organisation vulnerable. For example, a company might have processes in place to monitor devices such as mobiles, email servers or laptops, they may not marry up to the systems in place to monitor cloud services. This prevents holistic visibility.

Where possible, organisations should interlink their security measures across each element of infrastructure, to prevent security gaps and protect their structures as much as possible.

  1. Minimising Reaction Times

Often, cybercrime relies being undetected. Therefore, it is vital that an organisation understand their networks and IT systems to enable them to spot an anomaly quickly. The Ponemon Institute’s recent report, the 2016 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis, estimates that for the 383 companies in 12 countries surveyed, the average total cost of a data breach was $4 million in 2016. The report stated that the time taken to identify a breach directly related to the costs suffered. Therefore, the faster an organisation can identify and contain a cybersecurity incident, the less costs will be incurred as a result.

To ensure that it takes the minimal time to spot an issue or breach, companies must attempt to make their networks as simple as possible. Whilst it is important to ensure efficiency, consideration must be taken when adding an element, layer or device to a system, to understand how it will be linked to security monitoring and how fast an attack would be identified.

  1. Plugging the Cybersecurity Skills Gap

Employees can be a firm’s strongest asset against cybercrime. Despite significant investments in technology and platforms that guard against cybercrime, many don’t invest in internal strategies or essential skill development that can help support the technology.

In the 2017 Willis Tower Watson Cyber Risk Survey, insurance claims data showed that two thirds of cyber breaches are caused or enabled by employee negligence such as losing laptops, or accidental disclosure of information. By contrast, only 18% are directly driven by an external threat. In addition, over 80% of respondents stated that they want to have cyber risk management embedded in their company culture within the next three years.

A growing number of organisations are examining their internal cybersecurity strategy to include employees alongside software and networking preventions. Steps are then put in place to equip employees with the correct training and awareness skills that will mitigate and lessen vulnerability to cybercrime.

  1. Utilising Data to Protect Against Cyber Risk

The benefit of much of the technology implemented as a result of the IoT, is the ability to gather real time, large scale data. Many of the answers in guarding against cybercrime lies within an organisation’s ability to analyse this data effectively.

By analysing trends within IT infrastructure networks, it is possible to spot inefficiencies, but also helps to identify when something is amiss. To be able to gather the data effectively, the firm but be able to break it down from all the various sources. For example, any sales software or planning management programmes should be loaded on to one simple dashboard to help the reader spot anomalies as they occur. It is only when data is simple to use that it is effective. If it is left difficult to analyse, attacks could be left undetected and gaps or holes in security can be quickly grow.

The cost of leaving a security gap uncovered or failing to analyse an organisation’s data collects could be more than financial. A breach could affect a company’s reputation, perception and future. And unfortunately, these elements are perpetually changing, so unless a company can implement security processes that are able to adapt as fast as the threats are, that company could be vulnerable to attack.

In conclusion, when exploring investments in IT infrastructure, attention should be paid to understanding how any new additions will be monitored as part of the cybersecurity strategy. Only by ensuring that all digital elements are fully integrated onto the monitoring and analysing system can an organisation manage the risks it faces.

The most important in cyber-security however, is that the company has integrated a culture of awareness and knowledge on cyber issues. Employees are at the frontline of security prevention on all levels and therefore training and development in this area should be a focus for investment at all times.

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