What can businesses do to fortify their controls and scenario plan?

Reported cyber-attacks cost the UK economy an estimated £29 billion per year, and unreported crimes could amount to far more.

To take advantage of emerging trends in both technology and cyberspace, businesses need to manage risks in ways beyond those traditionally handled by the information security function, since innovative attacks will most certainly impact both business reputation and shareholder value.

Whilst combating cyber-crime remains a burden for SMEs, it need not be excessively expensive. Employing sensible habits and “best practices” go a long way towards protecting small companies from attacks.

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Things to consider:

Managing employee risk

  • Employee awareness and promoting cybersecurity best practice and train staff to recognise suspicious emails
  • Maintain strong passwords, and enforce strict rules where possible
  • Ensure passwords are regularly changed. This can be enforced every 3-6 months, for example.
  • Communications to employees, customers and media

Managing IT security

  • Activate firewalls on all computers and devices connected to the internet
  • Use a reputable anti-virus service and ensure it automatically updates on a regular basis
  • Monitor your network and investigate suspicious behaviour scan and filter emails before delivery to employees
  • Apply software patches to keep systems up to date
  • Segment your network
  • System users should be required to identify and authenticate themselves with usernames and passwords.
  • Activate two-factor authentication for hosted services
  • Ensure only administrators are granted full administrative access to computers/systems
  • Prevent low-level users from using unnecessary system functions and data. Reserve those rights for privileged administrative accounts.
  • Regularly update the software on all systems
  • Regularly backup important data to a separate location. It might be necessary to restore your system if your data is deleted or modified without authorisation. Having a backup copy is crucial for the recovery process.
  • Having a process of attack and threat prevention, detection and containment

Managing operational risk

  • Remove unused user accounts (previous staff members, for example).
  • Make IT-budgets (cyber security) one of the main topics for business
  • Ensure IT and cybersecurity controls, policies and protocols are in place
  • Familiarise senior management with IT security
  • Work with experts and train cyber-incident scenarios
  • Remove unused user accounts (previous staff members, for example).

Managing cybersecurity incidents and crisis planning

  • Have a crisis incident plan in place and test it upfront
  • Have a crisis escalation protocol in place to the board, the authorities, data protection authorities

Have a crisis communication plan with scenarios in place for brand and reputation management