Since the dawn of the internet, there have been bad actors seeking to exploit vulnerabilities in computer systems; in fact, the very first computer virus, the Creeper, was invented all the way back in 1971 for the predecessor of the modern web, ARPANET. Since those early days, strategies to get access to your data have grown far more sophisticated, ranging from ransomware to social engineering.
There is a dizzying array of threats to any modern business that utilizes the internet in any capacity, making it critical to have a solid information security plan. No matter your industry or the size of your operation, follow this advice to ensure that you are as hack-proof as possible.
Make Cybersecurity a Priority From the Start
When you’re first launching your business, you are likely thinking of product lines, marketing, the location of a physical storefront, and what kinds of employees you want to hire. These are all critical, of course, but there’s something you’re missing: a solid cybersecurity plan.
To hit the ground running with your business, you need to have a good understanding of what you will be up against. Understand cloud storage security, VPNs, firewalls, and developing a strong cybersecurity culture within your team; for example, everyone should understand not to click on risky emails or respond to requests for their passwords.
You will also need to be familiar with the compliance standards within your industry; this is especially true if you are working with sensitive information, such as medical records, or if you are a government contractor. Reviewing compliance requirements can also help you understand exactly what you will need and develop a plan.
Consider Hiring a vCISO
When you have so much on your mind already, you may not have time to learn cybersecurity from the ground up; after all, you have vendors to meet, products to develop, and sales goals to meet. This is why a Chief Information Security Officer is a critical element of your business plan.
A Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) is a member of an executive team that focuses on IT security. This can include choosing subscription proxies to protect data, implementing firewalls, monitoring web traffic to prevent data breaches, and training staff to ensure good security practices.
However, a CISO is incredibly expensive, as it takes 8-10 years of information security experience to reach the executive level; in fact, the median CISO salary is well over $500,000. While they are well worth the cost, most businesses cannot afford such an experienced professional, which is why they turn to vCISO services.
A virtual CISO allows you to leverage the experience of a CISO but at a much lower cost. You’ll benefit from their high-level strategies and deep experience of many different types of cybersecurity threats. They’ll also be able to perform threat assessments on vendors and clients who have access to your system, making sure you’re not blindsided by a threat that came from another company’s vulnerabilities. Be sure to choose a reputable vCISO, such as those from getgsi.com, so that you get the most benefit from your investment.
Research Strategies Others Use in Your Field
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and this is certainly true when it comes to cybersecurity. It’s often helpful to find resources from others in your field, looking at what kinds of products they use and what their systems look like. This may help you recognize what your own system is lacking and how you might improve it.
However, many companies hold these strategies close to the chest in order to avoid them falling into the hands of bad actors; most businesses are not going to publish a guidebook on exactly what they’re using, as this will make it much easier to crack. As such, you’ll have to leverage your connections in your industry. Speak to IT teams from other companies and discuss what their best practices look like so as to compare notes, or reach out to your network to get advice on how you can improve.
Stay Abreast of Emerging Threats
Like everything else in business, the cybersecurity environment is always changing. What was common practice last year may have been completely overturned by a new, nefarious invention that takes everyone by surprise. As such, you have to stay on top of what the current threats are so that you can counter them.
A vCISO’s job is to monitor these and adjust your plans accordingly, but you should also stay familiar with what’s happening in the IT field so that you understand what needs to be done for your company’s safety. This doesn’t have to be exhaustive: even adding a few tech magazines to your newsfeed, or signing up for newsletters from reputable cybersecurity publications, will suffice, especially if you already have expert guidance.
Running a business is much like multiperson juggling: there are so many moving parts that you’ll have to continually touch base on with your entire team. However, cybersecurity should be on constant rotation, as it protects every other element of your organization. Professional guidance, meticulous research, and continuing education will serve you well and ensure your company remains safe at all times.