Every company should be expecting a security breach at some point. MetricStream’s Vibhav Agarwal discusses the importance of tackling cybersecurity directly and what risk-focused executives must do to avoid disaster and position their organizations for success.
In a world where organizations are rapidly digitally transforming, cybersecurity has clearly become a business-critical issue. Every firm has unique data that offers it a strategic, competitive advantage – but in the event of a security breach, that data can quickly be compromised. Here’s what businesses can do to avert disaster.
Plan Well and Execute
Companies need to realize that the velocity and sophistication of online attacks has vastly increased, so they must adapt to survive in the modern world. The traditional method of developing and evaluating a strategy over the long term is no longer enough.
Preventing data breaches needs to be a top priority for all firms in the age of GDPR. Organizations must utilize real-time assessments that continuously secure critical assets and information – companies are constantly being attacked, even if they don’t realize it.
Bad actors are growing even more sophisticated, crafty and creative, which means business leaders must be prepared for the worst. Any firm caught unawares could seriously disrupt its operations and become the next headline-grabbing cautionary tale. Hackers are fast, so solutions need to be faster.
While all employees should be aware of security issues, chief information officers (CIOs) and chief technology officers (CTOs) must not only have a seat at the table, but also be at the forefront of specific prevention efforts. If a digital attack occurs, these key decision makers need to identify and protect sensitive information housed on internal servers while remaining compliant with existing regulations.
Companies also need a long-term risk management plan that includes steps like assembling a task force and notifying users of a breach. Any business that lags in figuring out a strategy will end up scrambling during an emergency.
Communicate If Something Goes Wrong
Data leaks inevitably lead to damaged reputations, decreased shareholder value and lower consumer trust. But these trends are reversible if companies transparently admit wrongdoing and effectively lay out a way forward.
Each firm’s specific recovery plan is different, but communication is key. Executives must be open with employees, customers, board members, shareholders and the public about security issues. It’s just as important to put a feedback mechanism in place online or by phone to address consumer complaints during the recovery process.
The problem is that right now, most companies aren’t doing a very good job of this. Rather than taking a top-down approach to security, they’re implementing muddled and confusing layers of bureaucracy that don’t clarify who’s in charge.
That’s not a stable long-term strategy, however: organizations need to identify the specific human and technical elements that will prevent data breaches and use them to develop an appropriate strategy to both mitigate risk and properly respond to attacks when they occur.
It’s admittedly not easy to put in place thorough, holistic security measures that continuously protect critical assets and data, which is likely why very few companies go through with them. But business leaders and IT professionals need to connect on these issues to ensure that every person at the firm is informed and protected.
Utilize Technology — But Be Smart About It
Ironically, digital tools themselves are essential parts of any data security strategy: Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) algorithms are the best defense against modern threats. Companies that effectively leverage and utilize these automated tools and solutions can combat problems and stop bad actors before they strike.
This strategy also helps from a personnel standpoint: Human workers sometimes can’t keep up with the sheer volume of attacks, and thus are more prone to error, so using tech to defend tech is also a great way to support employees.
But to ensure smart deployment, organizations must have a clear view of their goals and appoint a dedicated staff to lead data security efforts. Team members further need to set clear controls that outline the solutions they wish to implement and the goals they want to achieve before investing in tech.
This centralized system ensures all risk management capabilities and processes are carried out correctly. It also allows employees on various teams to solve cybersecurity issues together in real time and ideally to learn new strategies that will help avoid future problems.
Companies that aren’t already taking security issues seriously must act on them immediately, because firms that end up behind the eight ball risk catastrophic failure. Businesses need to put CIOs, CISOs, CTOs and other risk-focused executives in the driver’s seat of prevention efforts so they can clearly articulate a way forward if something goes wrong. Technical tools like AI and machine learning are also proven solutions, provided they’re utilized correctly.
Developing a proper cybersecurity plan isn’t easy, but it’s a necessary and rewarding effort.