Cybersecurity – Best Practices to Protect Business Organizations

In any organization, there are set duties, assignments and responsibilities to accomplish department goals, targeted objectives, and outcomes. Employees at every level within a business organization should take their responsibilities about Cybersecurity very seriously and be part of the organization Cybersecurity focus. Every department under the business structure should know what their part within the organization cybersecurity program. Every one, though matter what department they belong to should work as a team to meet and exceed the organization cybersecurity goals.

Having a great cybersecurity program is the responsibility of management and it should be a part of every facet in all sectors of the business. In every organization with an IT department, the IT department is the regulator of the business cybersecurity program. They create the policy, in accordance with the business goals, mission, and objectives. They build, implement and monitor the organization cybersecurity program against the business set goals.

With all this said, the cybersecurity program on an organization is useless without the backing or blessing of the senior leadership or the C-level. The senior leadership is the ones making the decisions based on cyber vulnerabilities and organizational risk. They are the owners of the cybersecurity program and therefore is overall responsible for results good or bad of the business security program.

Despite all the roles and responsibilities of the IT department and the senior leadership, it is of utmost importance that every employee takes cybersecurity seriously within the organization. Every member of the organization should be familiar with the business cybersecurity policies, strategy, and objectives. There should be clear guidelines on the do’s and don’ts for any given situation that could result in a data breach. The main goal of every cybersecurity program is to remove vulnerability and mitigate any loses that may occur from accidental or intentional security protocol violation. Therefore, everyone within the business organization is important players in the organization cybersecurity program and should do everything within their power to keep it safe.

Cybersecurity - Best Practices to Protect Business Organizations

Policymaking

Every organization doing business in this world either for-profit or nonprofit has developed rules, guidelines and best practice for doing business. This falls under the policy guidelines governing the organization day to day operations. The company policy is developed in accordance with organization goals, mission statement, vision statement, and expectations. The policy is developed by senior management which includes department heads, managers and HR. HR takes all the ideas and writes up a formal policy in accordance with the law and distribute it to all employees including new hire in the form of a policy booklet. Carefully planning of policy is vital in other for the business to be viable and competitive. Furthermore, the policy is a communicating tool for all employees on how they should and expected to behave in the work environment. Carefully developing an effective policy guideline and knowing the values you want to instill in all employees sets the tone and company culture. Despite the great attributes a policy can bring to the organization culture, one has to be very careful not to infringe on employees’ rights. Infringing on employees’ rights will demotivate and anger them resulting in diminished productivity. Remember policies with purpose have value.

It the sole responsibility of the business to design policies that will meet the shareholder’s vision, business or organizational missions. The policy should seek to mitigate the burden of regulations, costs, and contractual obligation by monitoring the security program closely.  The policy should be designed fairly and it should outline information that is written, spoken, recorded and be protected from accidental or intentional unauthorized destruction or modification for its life expectancy. An organization policy needs to implement controls that protect every system within that organization from malware, ransomware, viruses and any other form of intrusion attack.

At the end of the day, company policy should document in writing how the company plans to protect its data and physical assets. This document should explain how all employees are going to be educated on protecting the organization assets and how security measures should be handled and enforced within the business. This document should constantly be reviewed and updated as technology, mission, goals, and employees change within the business. In other words, it is a living document, addition and subtraction can be made to it in the best interest to the business.

Laws and Regulations

In the early stages of the computer networking era, there were no laws governing computer crimes. Victims were left to defend their computer network themselves. The government at that time did not address that issue of computer crime. Honestly, I didn’t think they knew how to address cybercrimes in the early stages. In this modern day, the U.S Government legislatures have laws in place that addresses if not all but most cybersecurity crimes. Today there is a number of laws that protects the computing world from cyber-attacks. In the United States, the government legislative body or law makers have established laws and regulation that will send convicted cybercriminals to jail, pay a fine or both depending on what they are found guilty of. These laws are put in place to protect the organization from data breaches and any other form of attack on information technology. 

The current legislative role is highly complex in cybersecurity. This role involves protecting and securing federal and none federal system in the United States and elsewhere the government has invested interest.  The government has developed the Counterfeit Access Device and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1984. This law was developed to stop cybercriminals from attacking government computers, the network used in the banking system, an in the interstate and commerce industries. The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 was also enacted to stop bad actors from spying on the organization through electronic means. The National Institute of Standard has the responsibility to design security standards for government computer network system.  This responsibility was imposed on NIST with the Computer Security Act of 1987. There are many other laws developed to protect both the federal government and private organization from cybersecurity criminals.

In essence laws and regulation are in place within the cybersecurity framework to protect intellectual property, private, confidential data from bad actors trying to gain unauthorized access for gain or malicious intent. These laws are needed for their intended purpose. The world has evolved and technology has advanced so rapidly that laws and regulation had to be put in place to mitigate and protect victims of cybercrimes. These laws and regulation play a major role in both protecting and assessing punishment for those who do not adhere to them. The cybersecurity world is a better and more comfortable place today than in the past.

Security Awareness

Doing business over the internet is risky business at all levels. It’s a matter of time before you get hacked. It’s a matter of when someone will gain unauthorized access to a computer network. Cybersecurity awareness is the ability to understand that your organization is at risk every day and something should be done to protect it. Any business that deals with data have the responsibility to do everything to protect it at all cost. Security awareness allows a business organization to explore a wide range of security controls and measures to stop or mitigate data breaches. Organizations should elevate the needs and efforts to increase security awareness within the business setting to all employees. Their cybersecurity framework should be tested against know attacks in other to evaluate the effectiveness of the system. Doing so will give the organization an idea of what controls they need to put in place to repair any gaps that exist and maybe be taken advantage of.

Cybersecurity awareness is time-consuming at the very least. Consistent and continuous training is needed, testing at know areas of weakness and vulnerabilities. Everyone in the organization should be aware of the possible way hackers tries to get access to your computer network. For example, a hacker instead of trying to exploit a security flaw in an organization security framework it is easier to call and impersonate someone in the business to obtain valuable information. If he or she is capable of getting the information needed they can access the security framework through the front door. Awareness in a business cybersecurity framework should come from the top, CEO, CFO, and managers that want to secure the company’s converted data.

Training can be in person in a classroom setting, online hands one or video. This is a vital function of any business because it ensures that all employees are aware of what to do and not do. For example, if within an organization your employees cannot make an informed decision on which attachment to open in an email then that leaves the security network vulnerable to phishing attacks. Have policies in place such as all software must be pre-approved before they can be installed and used on the computer network. As we all know the human factor is the most vulnerable in any security framework.  A security framework is only as good as its weakest link in the framework. All actors in the should share the responsibility to be aware of the risk that exists and should work together as a team to mitigate those vulnerability concerns. Setting periodic training for employees and testing of the framework for both internal and external threat will set a baseline for risk assessment with the business.

Role of an Individual

Every day Cybersecurity keeps evolving and technology keeps getting better. That being said hackers and bad actors keep inventing better more sophisticated ways to penetrate and steal data. Before connecting to the organization Cybersecurity system stop, think how can you protect and take care of personal, private and confidential data within the organization. It is everyone’s role to protect the companies converted data whether you are the janitor or the CEO of the organization. Within the business infrastructure, there are people with different roles and different level of access to the company’s data. Should that matter? Every employee should strive to meet their company’s cybersecurity goals. To protect the company’s data employee within the organization should be educated with the minimum knowledge and or requirement on cybersecurity policy and how it will impact everyone.

All employees should be aware of the general rules, regulations, laws, and requirement that most companies are subjected to if certain criteria are not meet in their cybersecurity efforts. Those laws and regulation are applied depending on the type of business organization. There are financial, health, information data protection and privacy law that a company can be subjected to if contractual obligations are not met. All employees may not know all the details of the requirement but they should at least know the consequences of bad judgment within the cybersecurity framework. A cybersecurity framework that is properly designed should provide detailed information that guides all employees to meet company policy and their professional responsibility towards cybersecurity.

Beyond the normal responsibility of an employee, there should be written procedures to report any security flaw that may arise. This would provide employees the sense and responsibility to report irregularities knowing that it will be dealt with promptly by management. Despite all that, our responsibilities as individuals are never-ending. We must stay vigilant and be aware that cybercriminals are lurking to cause harm in any way possible. There are many ways we can protect that from happening. The use of strong passwords, multiple layer authentications, recognizing phishing attempts, and limiting social media information presence. In any case, an individual role and responsibilities in the organization cybersecurity efforts can either undermined or fill in the gaps in the business security efforts. Employees make a big difference since they are the most vulnerable actors in the cybersecurity program.

Monitoring

An organization cannot have an effective cybersecurity system if there is no way to monitor the framework. Monitoring gives you the ability to see how effective the system is under normal and abnormal situations. Let’s be honest, any business is one click away from closing forever. Cybercriminals are hard at work developing new ways to steal information at whatever cost. Cyber threat monitoring is the best defense against itself. A business is never too small to be exempted from cyber-attacks. In fact, they are the prime targets of such behavior.

As a business, there are a number of threats that can affect the smooth operation of your day to day business operation. There are online scams, identity theft, viruses, ransomware, malware, web-based attacks, fraud just to name a few. Cybercriminals are always looking to steal important data from a targeted government department and business organization. Data such as employee records, banking information, medical and financial records. Once they obtain that important information there is no limit to the extent of damage that can be caused.

Cybersecurity monitoring gives you the possibility to detect vulnerabilities and threat that exist and they can act promptly and accordingly. Without knowing what you are up against leaves your organization open to be hacked. It might not happen for weeks or years but when you least expect it, it will happen and you would be left to deal with the aftermath and fall out. Monitoring an organizational Cybersecurity framework is a vital control mechanism when incorporated with company policies, rules, and regulations. It’s the only way to identify vulnerabilities and risk. It gives you the ideas what your flaws are and from that measures can be implemented to mitigate risk.

Compliance

Cybersecurity is a complex issue for the most experienced professional much less the end user. Compliance is highly critical in a cybersecurity program. Compliance is the first line of defense to mitigate security threats to a security framework. Policies must be set in place to hold perpetrators responsible for not following the security protocol set by the organization at all levels. Everyone with the business structure should hold the responsibility of being compliant with set company cybersecurity policies. That being said, how can a business obtain compliance from its employees? The answer to that question should always be training. If your employees know what’s at stake, they will act appropriately

Training should be consistent, continuous and be mandatory for everyone. The rules and regulation cannot be bent for anyone. There should be clear guidelines on reporting and monitoring of the security framework in the business. In other to have great compliance within your business organization the system has to be continuously evaluated and updated as business goals, mission and employees change. Known vulnerabilities and threats need to be reviewed against protected data information. Ensure that people with access to data have access when they need to. Compliance is directly dependent on an effective security system. your cybersecurity system is only good if it has a purpose.

Have rules in place for employees that violate the business compliance policy within the organization security program. If employees know the consequences of their action, they would be careful about how they use data in the business. That being said a system must be in place to identify the perpetrators. At the end of the day if there is no compliance your company is vulnerable to a wide range of attack which will be costly for the organization.

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