In this modern-day and age, people and businesses leverage digital solutions to perform their daily tasks or run their operations. While this paves the way for convenience and efficient processes, digital solutions can also open vulnerabilities for individuals and businesses utilizing them.
Hackers and those with malicious intentions likewise use the same technological innovations to take advantage of others, posing a risk to the individuals and their online operations. This article tackles what this risk is about and how you will be able to protect yourself from being a victim of these attacks.
By definition, cybersecurity risk is your potential exposure to harm when your online information or communication system is left open and vulnerable. Two of the most common examples of cybersecurity risk include cyber attacks, as well as a data breach.
However, you need to keep in mind that cybersecurity risk extends beyond data damage. Rather, it can even include intellectual property theft or harm your reputation, as well as that of your business.
Types of Cybersecurity Risk
- Internal Risk
Cybersecurity risk can be internal, which means that it stems from the actions of the people inside (insiders) the organization using the data or communication systems. For instance, a disgruntled employee may intentionally come up with means to sabotage internal data.
One such example is the 2017’s incident in which an ex-employee hacked the Marriott hotel reservation system and slashed rates up to 95%. Another such example is the 2018’s incident in which an ex-employee stole secrets of NSO, an Israeli spyware firm, and sold them on the dark web.
There are several other cybersecurity breach-related incidents involving insiders from top-notch firms. However, not all internal risks are intentional. It can also stem from negligence such as failing to install an update to a computer’s security patch or visiting unsecured websites.
- External Risk
Cybersecurity can also be external or coming from outside of the organization. An example of external cybersecurity risk is a data breach executed by a third party or an attack that is caused by a denial of service.
Hackers can also install malware and viruses as long as they get access to vulnerable systems. Like with internal risks though, not all external risks are intentional because they can also stem from the lack of security measures of the partners involved with the organization.
Cybersecurity Risk Impact
One of the biggest impacts of cybersecurity threats is the loss of revenue for businesses. This can be attributed to the fact that in the event of a cyber attack or a data breach, a significant disruption in business operations is usually unavoidable, particularly if business processes already rely on the digital solutions affected. When this happens, even the trust of the customers can be affected.
Another impact of cybersecurity risk is a change in the leadership of the organization. This usually takes place to ensure that proper security measures are put in place for the benefit of the whole organization. This will mitigate any reputational loss encountered due to the attack.
While cybersecurity risks can result in both quantitative and qualitative losses, less tangible impacts may prove to be more challenging to rectify.
Ways to Minimize Cybersecurity Risks
- Secure Data Transfers
One of the primary ways to minimize the risk of cyber attacks is to reduce data transfers, but this may sometimes be inevitable. If you cannot eliminate data transfers from one device to another, then make sure to perform it securely.
In this case, you can consider the use of the best VPNs for Android, iOS, Windows, or any operating system that you leverage. A VPN or a virtual private network will mask your location and encrypt the data that you send, ensuring that your online activities are private and secure. Even the data stored in your database and servers should be encrypted for maximum security protection.
Apart from encryption, you can also protect your outbound data through egress filtering. The latter only allows good traffic to pass through the firewall of your system. It will deny any other outbound data from passing through. In this way, you are guaranteed that data that should not leave your system stays as intended.
There is also the option for you to partner with an experienced cybersecurity provider to help you identify exposed endpoints and how you will be able to secure them. In this way, you will be able to tighten your current security system. You will be surprised that even simple measures such as turning off unnecessary services, as well as using the lowest privilege settings can already contribute significantly to your security.
- Update your Security System Periodically
Make sure to always use the latest security patches. Keep in mind that hackers and those with malicious intentions don’t need a lot to get into your system. Rather, all they need is a small gap that may be left open if your security software is outdated.
Thus, make sure to run regular scans of your security system, as well as all your software to ensure that these are updated with patches. You can also leverage the services of ethical hackers to look for flaws in your system for you to be able to address them accordingly.
- Be Cautious of your Downloads
Simply downloading files may pave the way for cyberattacks to happen. For this reason, you need to be more cautious of your downloads. This means that you need to verify your download sources to ensure that your devices are not exposed to various types of cybersecurity risks.
You can also scan a downloaded file or suspicious links on a website like VirusTotal. In this way, viruses and malware will not make their way into your system.
Some of the malware that you can get from your downloads include ransomware, adware, and scareware. Ransomware will encrypt your files, preventing you from accessing them. It can even lock down your entire operating system.
On the other hand, the adware will pave the way for unintended advertisements while scareware will give you false advertisements about viruses.
You should also consider having a “kill” switch. In this case, as soon as your IT personnel notices anything suspicious in your system, they will be able to automatically shut down the access to your servers or your entire system. They should also be able to take down websites as they deem necessary.
- Leverage Strong Passwords
Several people take password creation for granted. What they fail to recognize is that strong and unpredictable passwords can already offer substantial protection against various types of cyber threats.
You should also make it a habit to change your passwords time and again and avoid writing them down or sharing them with your colleagues. In this way, you will be able to do your part in protecting company data.
You should also ensure that administrator passwords on a local computer are not used on a server. If you practice this, a hacker will find it easier to access your system and use your data to their advantage. Additionally, you can also limit the number of login attempts made to access your system. This will help you block force attacks and keep your applications safe.
Overall, you need to leverage a password management system to distribute the credentials to everyone in your organization without putting your company at risk. This system will also ensure that you come up with a strong and reliable password for your organization as a whole.
- Understand Your Risk Profile
Another thing that you need to do to reduce cybersecurity risk is to understand your risk profile. This means that you need to take time to identify critical applications, systems, and databases that may be subject to this risk.
From there, conduct risk assessment activities with the stakeholders of your organization to assess the likelihood of potential exposure. In doing so, you will be able to come up with a mitigating plan based on the risks that you have quantified.
- Implement a Firm-wide Strategy
To minimize cybersecurity risk, you should also consider implementing a firm-wide strategic framework. To begin with, you need to take a look into your cybersecurity risk management practice and incorporate industry-specific risk standards into it as necessary.
Since threats can occur in any division of your organization, make sure that communicate an enterprise-wide risk management technique.
There is also the option for you to invest in a cybersecurity risk management infrastructure, which is based on the cyber threats that you have recognized. It follows that the system requirements you need should be able to address these threats.
In parallel to this, you can also consider risk reporting and incident management. From there, you will be able to establish a dynamic cybersecurity risk management process.
You should also make sure to raise awareness about cybersecurity risks in your organization. In this way, everyone within will be alert when it comes to threats and vulnerabilities. They will be able to watch out for phishing scams that are often sent through email or messaging apps. They will also be aware of what they need to do to ensure that the data of your system is protected. Training your team regularly is one of the keys to ensuring cybersecurity risk reduction.
Cybersecurity risk, such as cyberattacks and data breaches, makes you vulnerable online. Fortunately, there are various mitigating measures to help you protect yourself from this risk such as those listed above. Keep in mind that your security and safety online matter just as much as your physical security and safety in the real world.