What Is Cyber Security?

Cyber security is the practice of defending Internet-connected devices and services against phishing schemes, ransomware attacks, identity theft, financial loss and other threats. It includes establishing and monitoring procedures for protecting data from hackers and assessing the risk of such attacks.

IT innovations like communication software streamline information sharing and help businesses operate more efficiently. However, even the best systems are vulnerable to human error, which is why training staff in basic cybersecurity protocols is so important.

Security Policy Development

A cyber security policy is a set of guidelines that establishes how staff can and cannot use company IT resources. It also defines the responsibilities and processes for monitoring, managing and responding to threats.

An effective information security policy takes into account legal and regulatory concerns, organizational characteristics and requirements, contractual stipulations, environmental issues and user input. It also incorporates data classification so that resources are not wasted protecting sensitive data that doesn’t need to be protected, as well as a method for keeping policies up to date as the business environment changes and cyber threats evolve.

The process of developing a security policy requires buy-in from key stakeholders to ensure that it is implemented and enforced properly. A great place to start is to review Info-Tech’s Security Policy Prioritization Tool and policy templates that map to various compliance frameworks. Once policies are in place, an effective communications strategy is crucial to ensure that staff understand and comply with them.

Security Assessments

As the technological landscape evolves, companies face new cyber security threats. Even with the best antivirus software, firewalls and encryption technology, your company may be vulnerable to attacks if its employees aren’t trained properly. Fortunately, many IT professionals and third-party vendors offer tools to help you conduct a comprehensive security assessment of your business.

Among the most critical assessments is the vulnerability assessment. This test examines the overall health of your IT infrastructure, communications pathways and data storage facilities to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities that hackers could exploit.

The risk analysis phase of a security assessment compares potential risks with your business tolerance level to determine how severe the impact would be if an attack were successful. The information gleaned in this phase helps you create a risk mitigation plan based on your budget and resources. Often, implementing a few simple changes can reduce your organization’s vulnerability. For example, Equifax paid nearly $400 million for the data breach it suffered in 2017. Several of the vulnerabilities in its system could have been avoided with a proper training program for its employees.

Security Monitoring

Security monitoring is the process of detecting and responding to threats in real-time. This is done by analyzing and combining all log data in one place to make identifying suspicious activity easy for the IT team. Continuous cyber security monitoring helps to reduce mean time to detection and mean time to response which helps minimize the damage caused by data breaches or unauthorized system changes.

In today’s digital world, staff often work on multiple devices and locations. This has increased remote working opportunities and, in turn, given cyber criminals a greater opportunity to gain unauthorized access to an organization’s computer networks.

Furthermore, cybersecurity risks are not limited to your own IT systems as third-party vendors can pose significant challenges. Maintaining ongoing awareness of third-party vulnerabilities and security posture is essential for regulatory compliance and continued business growth. Security monitoring can help to identify these risky vendors by analyzing and delivering alerts based on reestablished metrics.

Security Training

Cyber security requires a team of efficient professionals working together. While many people think of cybersecurity specialists as lone rangers, they are actually much more likely to work in large teams.

Cybersecurity training includes the identification, classification, remediation and mitigation of vulnerabilities within IT systems. It also focuses on testing and improving cyber defenses. This can include performing penetration or pen tests which involve attempting to access a system and identify weaknesses in the defenses.

It also focuses on end-user education, teaching employees how to better protect themselves from cyber attacks. This can include password security, avoiding suspicious URLs, not plugging in unidentified USB devices and more. This type of training helps reduce the number of attacks that can be launched against a company. It also focuses on disaster recovery and business continuity planning, which provides tools and procedures for resuming critical operations after a natural or cyber incident. This is a particularly important aspect of it cyber security, as evidenced by the recent spate of massive data breaches.

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