The cyber-crime pandemic: Seven security steps to safeguard your business
By John Batistich
We have seen a significant increase in phishing, malware and ransomware attacks during the COVID-19 crisis. The likelihood of serious attacks and breaches occurring has never been greater and the consequences never more costly. Large businesses including Toll Group, Fisher & Paykel, BlueScope and Lion Nathan have reported cyber-security breaches that have adversely affected their operations.
So, what can we do to protect our businesses and minimise the risks of a cyber-security breach?
Here, are the seven practices to build your cyber-security resilience.
1. Senior ownership
The chief executive officer, the board and the senior leaders of the business must see cyber security as a key risk to the business and appropriately prioritise and resource mitigations as part of a cyber-security strategy.
2. Auditing and monitoring
You evaluate your business’s cyber-security systems and capabilities to identify the most important and urgent risks to close vulnerabilities. A zero-test security architecture is adopted, where every piece of network traffic is audited and must be white-listed before accessing the network — including device encryption, tight access management, patch management, multi-factor authentication and employee security training.
3. Your people are your firewall
Your employees act as a vigilant firewall. Cyber-security policies are in place to direct behaviour and employees have high levels of awareness on cyber-security risks including sharing sensitive information, password control, phishing campaigns, partner requirements and device controls.
4. Infrastructure security design
Strong cyber-security controls must exist across core IT systems and configuration to prevent vulnerability exploits and malware.
5. Active defences
You understand risk sources and build in strong defences. Ensure analytics are in place to identify vulnerabilities and generate early warnings for impending attacks. You maintain relevant intelligence on cyber criminals’ capabilities and identities. Ensure robust vulnerability patching processes and automated updates are in place.
6. Detection control
You build in systems that can detect internal or external anomalies and intrusions. You monitor and measure system performance with visibility over the usage of applications and automate immediate actions when abnormal or malicious usage is identified.
7. Incident response ready
Incident-response plans exist and have senior ownership. Simulated cyber attacks are conducted to build response and recovery capability.
It is not a question of if, but when, you will be attacked. A breach can distract leaders and interrupt operations — and result in costly remediation, fines and reputational damage. The above seven practices will build a cyber-security resilient business prepared to defend against any cyber attack and recover from any breach.