33 billion data records to be stolen in 2023 alone, that’s the number predicted by Juniper Research, and by some accounts, it might be a conservative one. The information will range from personal data of people to employee data, from financial information of customers to corporate secrets.
The threats to your information security can come in many forms. Some viruses damage the data, while others stay in the system spying on the activities. Some cybercriminals attack the devices, while others attempt to hamper the entire network.
Investing in keeping your systems and data safe is no longer an optional extra. It’s a mandated minimum, that is if one wishes to stay in business.
In this article, we’ll guide you on how to go about assessing the security needs of your business so that you can stay one step ahead of the hackers and, of course, in business.
Step 1. Figure out the critical business assets
Every business has different software requirements and device configurations to control the operations. So, the first step towards business data security requires you to identify the assets critical to your business.
The assets fall into different categories like intellectual property, financial data, and physical devices, among others. These assets vary among organizations, and the list will never be exhaustive.
However, in general, assets include customer data, employee information, software applications, source code, servers, backup devices, network devices, and various other digital data. To protect what you have, you need to know what you have, gather your business management team and the IT guys, and go over the blueprints.
Step 2. Determine the value of your information
Once you have the list of critical assets, you have to prioritize which of them need a higher level of security. After
all, not all assets are equal.
If your business uses cloud solutions, you might want to invest more in web applications and cloud infrastructure security. However, go for reliable protocols for application security and database security instead if much of your work resides on local servers and intranet.
The prioritization also depends on the business objectives, your data security budget, and the relative importance of the assets.
A few criteria to determine the importance are calculating the monetary value, estimating the blow on the revenue, and outlining financial/legal penalties because of loss of the data. You can also factor in other costs like the impact on day-to-day business operations.
The time required to restore from backup or recreate the database from scratch can be yet another determinant for the value of your information.
Step 3. Identify the probable threats and vulnerabilities
In the next step to find ideal business security solutions, you have to identify the cyber threats that can disrupt your digital setup.
A well-performed threat and risk analysis involves creating a list of all the potential sources which can harm the assets.
The attacks on confidentiality, for example, can lead to losing customer information and account details. Attacks on integrity can lead to manipulation of business operations. Attacks on availability can block the authorized users from accessing the data and halt critical business activities.
From malware attacks to hacking attempts, compromise of your customers’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to source code leaks, a lot goes around in the world.
After you have a list of cybersecurity threats, you need to identify the weaknesses in your security system, which make your business vulnerable to those threats.
If threat audit, vulnerability analysis, software security assessment, and other such processes seem daunting, you can take the help of any good security consulting service provider to help you with this exercise.
Step 4. Rank your security needs based on priorities
By now, you know the value of assets and have also identified the threats and vulnerabilities, so let’s prioritize the security needs.
All cyber threats are not common. While a hacker might try to breach the network firewall security repeatedly, a raccoon flooding your system with malware might happen only once in a year. You must rank all the threats based on their occurrence.
Next, determine the chances of a threat exploiting a vulnerability, work out how frequently you expect those attacks to occur. For example, if an asset is critical, but the possibility of someone getting to it is slim, you might like to rank it lower than the data servers, which are connected to the internet.
You should assess each threat/vulnerability possibility to list them by the probability of their occurrence and the resulting impact.
Step 5. Assess existing data security measures
By now, you have reviewed the assets and have an all-inclusive list of possible cybersecurity risks/threats of your business, so now it’s time to find out how prepared you are for an upcoming cyber threat.
Doing a security assessment requires you to go through the list of threats and vulnerabilities, then analyze all the existing preventive and detective security controls.
Preventive controls stop cyber-attacks, while detective controls try to discover attacks (if any).
You’ll need to conduct an elaborate IT security assessment. You must consider the security aspect from technology, process, and people’s perspective while conducting the assessment.
Step 6. Decide on the type of security you need
Now that you have found the value of your assets, you have outlined the threats, and you know the flaws in your existing security system, you can identify the security you need for your business data.
IT security can be divided into five broad categories – Application Security, Network Security,
Cloud Security, Data Protection, End User Education.
Application Security rectifies security mistakes at the application level. Network Security protects the data from unauthorized users in a network. Cloud Security deals with the monitoring and protection of your assets on the cloud.
Data protection deals with how to do you store and protect your customer and other sensitive data. And last but not least is End User knowledge about cybersecurity and how they can avoid being a victim of phishing and protect themselves from many new types of cyber fraud.
To secure your business, you also need to outline policies and processes to be enforced in the circumstances resulting in data loss. For a more robust system, you need to train the end-users too.
Mishaps can occur anytime. By identifying the needs and requirements of your business security, you can prevent cyber threats from causing havoc.
So, suit up! Get ready to evaluate your assets and deploy stringent security measures in place. The process can be cumbersome, but the survival of your business is worth it.