The threat of cyberattacks and the need for advanced security measures has never been greater. But businesses still fall short when it comes to detecting and preventing intrusions. In this post, we’ll review 4 managed security steps that will help protect your business from attacks.
By 2021, annual damages from cyberattacks are expected to cost businesses $6 trillion. Employing a range of tricks- including ransomware, data leaks and theft- hackers and cybercriminals will continue to terrorize businesses on a devastating scale.
For an unprepared business that falls victim to an attack, the fallout is staggering. Destroyed data, stolen money, lost intellectual property, fraud, compromised user information and lengthy insurance and legal proceedings are all common.
And while huge breaches of large companies make headlines, businesses of all sizes are at risk.
When a business is caught unprepared, damages in the hundreds of thousands are common. And downtime expenses can be punishing, costing businesses an average of $300k an hour. These circumstances close doors and shut businesses down.
The good news is that disasters like these are preventable. This is because sufficient security measures that help thwart cyberattacks are now more accessible and cost-effective than ever. The blueprint exists and it’s easy to follow. Let’s take a look.
4 Steps to Preventing Cyberattacks
#1 Set Up Your Prevention System
If you’re going to protect your business from a cyberattack, you’ll need a system to prevent it. And a single layer of security isn’t going to cut it. You’ll need multiple layers of security in place to detect and prevent attacks
Two important tools serve as the first line of defense: IDS and IPS.
Intrusion detection systems (IDS) are a passive tool for monitoring your network and incoming information. IDS is great for detecting a potential threat, alerting IT personnel and other security systems and creating a record of the attack for investigation later. But, IDS is unable to address the threat directly.
Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), by contrast is able to monitor data that enters the network. Once it detects an intrusion, it is able to address the situation and neutralize the threat. However, IPS is only able to detect the intrusion after it’s already entered the network.
While they have similar and overlapping functionality, IDS and IPS are often implemented in conjunction. This provides a proactive detection and prevention system that, in the event of an attack, can alert key personnel of a threat while containing and thwarting it.
You’ll also need additional layers of security, including firewalls, which work to keep threats out of your network, and regular system scans to check the health of the network.
Even with all of those systems in place, hackers constantly create new viruses and malware to find ways through network defenses. Because of this, you’ll need to update your system regularly with patches and upgrades.
#2 Write an Attack Response Plan
You cannot prevent an intrusion attempt on the fly. You need a plan. And an effective attack response plan has multiple elements, starting with personnel.
Creating a list of employees and their contact information will ensure key personnel are on hand to manage the situation. First, identify the IT personnel that will respond to the threat. Second, identify any non-technical personnel who must also play a role. For example, if sensitive employee data is leaked, HR and leadership will need to address the situation.
A comprehensive plan will also include a list of common attacks and how to respond to each one. Threats you should prepare for include phishing, ransomware, viruses, trojan horses, and password breaking, among many others.
Other important questions to address in your plan include:
- Phone numbers: Who do we call, and in what order?
- Network diagrams: How do we decide which parts of the network we should shut down?
- Data: How will we address stolen or damaged data?
- What data has been stolen or destroyed?
- Was there any sensitive information that was stolen?
- If so, what is our liability?
- Legal Issues: How will we report the incident to insurance and law enforcement?
- Liability: What is our total risk exposure?
Once you can answer these questions, you’re closer to containing any threat.
#3 Employee Training and Preparation
There are numerous ways an attacker can breach your system. But many viruses and malware get through to the network because of employee action. Hackers love to lay traps through deceptive emails, links and downloads. And a single uninformed click or reply can give a slew of threats- ransomware, phishing, viruses- the chance to do serious damage.
Employee training will drastically reduce the chance of a cyberattack caused by employee action. Some simple but impactful steps to teach your employees to do include:
- Previewing files before downloading
- Hovering over a link to confirm the URL before clicking
- Double-checking sender information on emails that ask for sensitive information
It is also helpful to teach employees how to identify attacks and potential threats. Examples include recognizing ransomware and identifying when they’ve been tricked by phishing.
For additional prevention, require individual user accounts and regular password changes, and restricting employee authorization to install software.
#4 Ongoing Monitoring
With all of the initial setup in place, the next step is to monitor everything. But to do it right, you’ll need a team that can manage issues 24/7/365. Which means you need to decide if you’re going to do it in-house or through a managed security services provider (MSSP).
For some companies, handling these responsibilities in-house is doable. If you already have the resources and expertise on hand, it can make a lot of sense. And some IT staff want total control over their data and security system.
But for most businesses, it’s not feasible to handle the continuous monitoring in-house. Managing your firewall and IPS takes a lot of time, expertise and personnel.
Managed security services offer a way to outsource your security to a provider that has a team of experts in place for proactive detection and response. Managed security services providers drive continued patching and updates to your response protocols, making sure that your company is ready for security threats.
Plus, managed security services are cost-effective. This is because they give you access to a team of trained and certified security professionals without having to hire a large team in-house.
Cyberattacks are the real deal, and the threat gets larger each year. Fortunately, businesses of any size can follow the steps laid out in this post. Doing so will keep them prepared to detect and prevent intrusion, and protect their network and data.