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Many organizations try to have proper continuity strategies in place to prepare for any eventualities. Most think of events like extreme weather occurrences or fire and so plan around those disasters. But these days, preparing for cyber threats is just as, if not more, important.
The current global health crisis is an excellent example of why proper foresight and planning are essential. Not only did it force organizations to adapt to new working conditions, but it also exposed many flaws. Flaws in cybersecurity strategies (or lack thereof) especially.
Many companies relied on digital processes before the crisis. Now a lot of business had to switch to a remote working setup too. And all that brings added security problems.
A situation like this illustrates how disruptive a disaster can be on a business and how quickly things can change. It also shows why a well-presented business continuity plan can help cut the disruption to business flow.
Let’s explore what it means for organizations today and what role cybersecurity has to play in the grand scheme of things.
Why is Cybersecurity an Important Business Consideration?
When management does a PEST analysis, then cybersecurity has to take up a part of the discussion. The “T” in PEST stands for technology, after all. Cybersecurity is crucial for every business. Nowadays, all companies have digital assets. It can be confidential information and client data that criminals want to steal.
A data breach, for example, disrupts the daily operations of a business and impacts the brand. It takes years for companies to make customers trust their brands. And trust can plummet in a matter of days if a data breach occurs. It’s even worse if the organization mishandles it. It can drag out the process and impact brand reputation even further.
Cybersecurity touches on the intangible assets that a business has, as well as tangible ones. Disastrous cyber events can affect everything — data, client trust, reputation, and employee productivity.
What Does a Good Cybersecurity Strategy Look Like?
There will always be cases of unforeseen circumstances. But many events you can and should adequately plan for. Many businesses have a preparedness plan in place in case a disaster like a forest fire strikes. It’s something many Australian companies recently had to deal with, for instance.
In the same way, a company can prepare for cyber events and threats. An effective plan would contain the best course of action and company-wide procedures. It should cover all steps until normal business operations can resume again.
In most cases, it would be prudent for business managers/owners to consult IT or cybersecurity experts. It would ensure they cover all possible threats and plan the most effective strategies against them.
A good cybersecurity strategy takes the nature of each threat or event into account. Then it advises on different solutions. It should be a comprehensive strategy, touching:
- business systems,
- client safety,
- employee actions,
- outside influences.
The latter is especially important for one big reason:
Cybercriminals take advantage of improper communication and mass confusion during a stressful situation. Take the COVID-19 pandemic, for example. There has been a massive increase in malware and phishing attempts since the outbreak started. They have one thing in common — they try to take advantage of people’s fear.
A company should work to counteract that and keep its employees — and by extension, the business — safe from harm.
What Does It Mean for Day to Day Operations?
It means employing systems, policies, and tools that help the company prevent, detect, and recover from threats.
- Systems that restrict the flow of data and protect essential assets need to be in place. It includes limiting employees’ access to business systems and information to what they need to complete their duties. It should also take the sharing of information into account, and include secure methods for sharing information.
- Policies have to take software, systems, and employee behavior into account. There’s no point in having security software if employees don’t follow the correct safety precautions. Companies should enforce policies and review them at regular intervals as well.
- Tools should include software that protects employees, the business, and their systems. It includes tools like:
- password managers,
- a VPN for remote access and encryption of connections,
- antivirus programs and virtual machines,
- file encryption software,
- a good firewall.
But it can also include tools that aren’t security-centric. For instance, an instant messaging tool is a much faster and more reliable way of sending out emergency information than email is.
Does your organization have cybersecurity preparations in place? If not, it doesn’t have a complete business continuity plan.
Keeping the negative impact on business operations and reputation to a minimum is crucial. And you cannot do it without giving cybersecurity proper consideration.
Make sure you have proper procedures and policies in place to ensure a smooth transition when disaster inevitably strikes.
Image by Biljana Jovanovic