What is Cybersecurity & How Does It Impact Businesses?
Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of systems, devices, networks, and information residing or transiting through them (ACSC). It involves safeguarding networks, systems, and programs from digital attacks, which can take many forms such as cyberattacks, data spills, malicious software, and ransomware. These attacks aim to access, change, or destroy sensitive information, extort money from users, or interrupt normal business processes. Effective cybersecurity strategies are essential for businesses of all sizes to protect critical data, customer information, and intellectual property from malicious actors. Additionally, cybersecurity helps prevent unauthorised access to computer hardware and software. As businesses increasingly rely on technology and the internet, cybersecurity has become increasingly important. Australian businesses can find comprehensive guidance through the Information Security Manual provided by the Australian Cyber Security Centre. While the ACSC provides comprehensive guidance, our article takes a more high-level approach to help businesses get started on their cybersecurity journey.
Step 1: Research and Education
The first step in developing a proactive cybersecurity plan is to conduct research and educate yourself and other stakeholders. It is essential to understand the types of assets in an organisation, threats, attacks that can be used, and how to protect yourself from them. An excellent starting point for most organisations is to undertake the Cyber Security Assessment Tool. Educating yourself on the latest security trends and best practices is also essential. Researching the security landscape will help you better understand how to protect your organisation from cyber threats. Additionally, it is beneficial to stay up to date on security news, such as new vulnerabilities or techniques used by attackers. For extensive resources, please head to the Australian Cyber Security Centre website.
Step 2. Identify Assets and Risks
It is essential first to identify and document all the assets that need to be protected from cyber threats. This includes any data, systems, applications, or networks you use to store, process, or transmit sensitive information. This process should consist of identifying and cataloguing all the hardware, software, and services used by your organisation. Determining the value of each asset and how it contributes to the overall operation of the business is crucial in asset identification. Knowing what you have is vital to determine which areas need the most protection.
To determine which threats need to be addressed, identifying assets and the risks they hold is essential. It is crucial to consider all of the data and systems within an organisation, including any external systems that may be connected. This requires assessing the current environment to identify any weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Additionally, understanding the types of data you are handling and identifying any potential threats that could arise is necessary. This involves identifying potential threats that could affect your network and systems, as well as potential vulnerabilities that could be exploited. An evaluation of existing policies and procedures, as well as your current security posture, should also be included in this assessment. To account for any changes, this assessment should be updated periodically.
In identifying and analysing risks, it is important to develop a risk management framework, that will serve as the basis for understanding risks and then formulating a risk control plan. The idea of this is that this risk management framework becomes a live operational document that is regularly reviewed resulting in a dynamic approach to cybersecurity risk management.
Step 3: Understand Your Security Needs
Developing a proactive cybersecurity plan involves understanding your organisation's security needs, inculding the threats you face, the data and systems you need to protect, and the tools and processes you need to implement. This can be done by assessing your organisation's security posture, analysing potential risks, and researching industry best practices. For most businesses, referring to the Information Security Manual and the Essential Eight Maturity Model will provide an excellent basis to undertake this step.
Step 4. Analyse Your Network
An essential step to securing the network is to analyse it. This includes understanding your network architecture, identifying any vulnerable points in the system, and evaluating the security measures that you currently have in place. It is essential to identify any potential threats or weak points before taking steps to secure your network. With the Internet of Things, Work from Home, and remote access to operational environments, your network will also include traversing the internet, so the interface points are critical from a security perspective.
Step 5: Establish a Security Strategy
The final step in developing a proactive cybersecurity plan is establishing a security strategy. This includes creating an overall policy for how your organisation will handle security issues, defining the threats you are most concerned about, and identifying the tools and technologies you will use to protect your digital assets. It would help if you also determined what levels of access different stakeholders will have and set limits on who can access specific sensitive data. In this step, you must establish clear cybersecurity policies and procedures. Another way of looking at this is to think of your risk control plan as a constantly evolving set of measures, where depending on the assessed risks and the expansion of your business and network infrastructure, you scale your cybersecurity and reflect this in your organisation’s policies and procedures.
Cybersecurity is a critical issue for businesses in the 21st century. The consequences of a cyber-attack can be devastating and irreversible. To protect your business and its data, it is essential to equip your business with the right cybersecurity preparedness strategy. This includes implementing strong security measures, educating employees on cyber threats, and staying up to date on the latest cybersecurity technologies and trends. Taking proactive steps now to ensure your business is secure can help to prevent a cyber-attack and protect your data in the future.