Identifying Vulnerabilities and Risks to Keep Your Company Safe
The cybersecurity landscape changes every day. New data hacks and information breaches impact millions of unsuspecting consumers. Fresh viruses and ransomware strains infiltrate our inboxes. Malicious web ads and fake security updates redirect everyday clicks to suspicious websites. Passwords are stolen, login credentials are compromised, and data backups are lost—and many of us never think twice about it, convinced that we’ll never be affected.
Why do so many well-meaning people make so many cybersecurity mistakes, over and over again? Because most of us don’t know we’re exposing ourselves to digital danger—or we don’t understand the consequences of such actions. Until, of course, things go wrong and everyone asks, “How the heck did that happen?”
That’s what makes cybersecurity assessments so important. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines cybersecurity assessments as tools “used to identify, estimate, and prioritize risk to organizational operations, organizational assets, individuals, other organizations, and the nation, resulting from the operation and use of information systems.”
More informally, cybersecurity assessments consider the size and complexity of your company, the regulatory or industry constraints it faces, and the state of existing systems, networks, and protections. Some even assign scores to certain characteristics, coming up with a formula of sorts: cyber risk = threat x vulnerability x information value.
Think of it this way: A vulnerability is an existing weakness that, when exploited, results in unauthorized network access, while a threat is best represented as a potential weakness that might one day be exploited. If your IT systems aren’t equipped to protect against significant intrusions, and your data contains valuable information about financial transactions, your overall cyber risk could be high. A cybersecurity assessment can properly measure that risk.
What does a cybersecurity assessment entail?
The best kind of cybersecurity assessment should be geared toward the particular details of your business: its size, its number of employees, its industry, and its technology needs. Most assessments begin with a short quiz or questionnaire, followed by a consultation to better understand your unique cybersecurity requirements.
During that consultation, a more thorough questionnaire may be used. But the most important step comes next when you should get the chance to review the results with your IT provider or business partner. At CMIT Solutions, we use the answers to that questionnaire to help us develop a matrix that identifies where your business falls on four quadrants of security: administrative safeguards, physical safeguards, technical safeguards, and organizational requirements. Next, a full network diagnostic can identify areas of concern, before specific solutions are proposed to fix existing vulnerabilities and minimize ongoing cyber risk.
If your cyber risk is high, what can you do about it?
At CMIT Solutions, we deploy several security tools to help our clients enhance overall cybersecurity:
1) A multi-layered approach that leaves no IT stone unturned.
This goes beyond basic anti-virus and anti-malware protection to include strong firewalls that prevent unauthorized access to your office network; advanced tools like DNS filtering, sandbox screening of email attachments, and security incident and event management (SIEM) and security operations (SOC); and real-time monitoring that analyzes activity and prevents problems before they occur.
2) Strong passwords that meet evolving security standards.
The guidelines outlining exactly what “strong” means continue to evolve. The aforementioned National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) changed its formula for password creation two years ago, encouraging users to use long, personalized, phrases that are easy for users to remember instead of random combinations of letters, numbers, and special characters. But no matter how unique your password is, cybercriminals somewhere are trying to crack it. The key is to use different login credentials for different accounts and different platforms. That way, if one password is stolen, the hackers won’t immediately gain access to all of your accounts.
3) Multi-factor authentication (MFA) and single sign-on (SSO).
The next level of password security, MFA is far more than just an inconvenience. Instead, it verifies a user’s identity by requiring two things: something a user knows (a standard password) and something a user has (a push notification or unique code delivered via text or email). Single sign-on (SSO) takes this one step further, enabling users access to multiple applications through one centralized login while enhancing security for businesses operating in sensitive industries with heightened compliance regulations.
4) Remote, regular, and redundant data backup.
Your data is backed up every day, right? The question is where and how: On an external hard drive? Somewhere in the cloud? Not enough businesses understand the immense importance of the data they store and use, and far fewer take the necessary precautions to safeguard customer and financial information, which can be a treasure trove for hackers. Similarly, backing up your data to a drive that sits next to your computer isn’t safe—fire, theft, flooding, and good old-fashioned coffee spills can all wreck those kinds of on-site backups. That’s why data backups executed automatically and tested regularly are so important.
5) A proactive, people-first approach to cybersecurity.
“That’s IT’s job—not mine.” This refrain is all too common in today’s fast-paced business world. But given the way that some IT providers keep their day-to-day work hidden from view, it makes sense. That’s not how CMIT Solutions operates, however. We treat cyberse¬curity protection as a true team effort, pairing our trained security experts with your employees, who often can serve as the first line of defense. We train your staff to develop cybersecurity skills of their own—spotting a suspicious email or raising a red flag about a questionable link—while we work 24/7 in the background defending your entire IT environment. We provide ongoing cybersecurity education and trusted advice about investing in the most efficient equipment possible. We believe that every computer, every user, and every business deserves real data and network security.
Cybersecurity threats never end, inundating companies of all sizes from every direction possible. That’s why CMIT Solutions uses its trusted cybersecurity assessment to understand the risks threatening your business and identify areas that require appropriate action. If you have questions about security vulnerabilities, industry-specific safeguards, or reliable cybersecurity policies, we have answers. Contact CMIT Solutions to take the assessment and learn more about protecting your company.