Protecting your data is absolutely vital to your business survival. Data breaches are not something that only happens to larger organisations. In fact, around 88% of UK companies lost crucial business data in 2020.
Every day, there are 65,000 attempts to hack into the databases of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Now, here is the biggest wake-up call. Within six months of a substantial data breach, around 60% of SMEs cease trading. Clearly, data protection is an issue that affects every company, of any size and type.
Failing to take it seriously can mean hefty fines under GDPR rules on proper data management, alongside serious business interruption. Poor economic recovery is often caused by an inability to retrieve the lost data quickly or thoroughly, bringing long-term difficulties in trading effectively.
Then there’s the loss of your reputation. It’s the most valuable commodity you have and it is inextricably linked to the second most important business asset you have – your data! Consumers and business decision-makers will be unforgiving if you suffer an avoidable cyberattack due to poor cybersecurity planning.
What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity means taking the necessary precautions to protect internet-connected (cyber) systems, including hardware, software and your business data – all the things that can get badly compromised by cyber criminals.
Of course, some data breaches are due to human error. Companies with disjointed or antiquated technology, or low levels of data management ‘leak’ data in a way that puts their business at risk.
However, most data losses are due to theft, or malicious interference. It would be easy to be complacent and imagine the latest technology patches and upgrades have made these risks less likely. Instead, cyberattacks and their level of sophistication are on the rise.
In fact ‘economic crime’ in general is growing at a truly alarming rate. There has been a 43% increase in fraud and computer misuse (June 2020-2021). Even the UK Government experienced this first hand, with fraudulent online claims for pandemic funding.
The cybercriminals behind online fraud, data theft and malicious interference are increasingly sophisticated too. Using a variety of methods – including phishing emails, viruses and malware (malicious software) to steal or corrupt data.
Clearly, there is no room for complacency or the misplaced belief ‘it won’t happen to us’. Every organisation must have a cybersecurity plan in place that looks at all your risks, and the best ways to guard against them.
How to Create a Cybersecurity Plan
With so many potential threats to your organisation’s data, where do you start in creating a strategy to protect it? The answer is a cyber security audit.
A cyber security audit reveals whether you are blissfully unaware of serious gaps, cracks and overlaps in your data management and protection. Ultimately, the audit provides you with a professional evaluation of your current vulnerability to cyberattacks, and signposts the changes you must make to effectively manage and guard your vital business information.
Areas Cybersecurity Audits Focus On
So what exactly is included in a cybersecurity audit?
Your IT Profile
It starts with the fundamentals, including how up-to-date your IT infrastructure and software is, and how everything is connected and keeps your data flowing safely ‘end-to-end’.
Any out-of-date devices or systems are identified, giving you a chance to strengthen and better integrate your digital workplace. From this basis, it becomes easier to do assured data management and control.
IT Back-up Systems
Your cyber security audit looks beyond the technology you use daily as an organisation – including any devices used by remote workers. It also reviews how you back-up business data.
The best cybersecurity plans are usually based on backing up data to cloud systems, off-site. That not only adds an important layer of protection, but also makes it far easier to restore your data and keep trading following a cyber attack.
Policies and Procedures
Another feature of a cybersecurity audit would be an assessment of how your IT is used, and the systems in place to manage data effectively. Do you do enough as a company to keep your data safe, including sharing sensitive information on a strict need-to-know basis?
Training and Awareness
This links to the above point. Your audit may show that your infrastructure and procedures are robust. However, your data security also depends on the ‘human factor’.
Does your company do enough to make staff aware of the latest cyber-attack risks, and do you constantly refresh their training on the safe collection, storage and use of business data?
Professional Cybersecurity Audit Advantages
A cyber security audit is designed to ‘tease out’ your vulnerabilities. Some of these will be major risks, such as whether you are using the latest anti-virus and anti-malware measures. Some may be more subtly security shortfalls or deficits affecting your:
- Data handling: Including encryption levels and backup processes.
- Daily operational systems: Including adherence to security checks and measures.
- Network: Including devices used by remote and hybrid staff.
- Data sharing: Including privileged account management.
Your audit could also focus on whether your team is doing sufficient regular ‘housework’ to protect against cybercrime. Such as software updates and patches, and regularly changing strong passwords.
How to prepare for an audit
None of this is a one-off fix, which is why periodic cybersecurity audits by professional third-parties are important. Carrying out regular cybersecurity checks and measures involves being hyper-aware of the latest threats and your own specific vulnerabilities. Then, you test whether your existing protections are working adequately.
Preparation could include, for example, mapping out your network assets, and making a list of everyone responsible for handling your business data, and internet-linked systems. Collate all your policies and procedures together too, ready to assess how effective they are, and whether they are being used properly and consistently. Include incident response plans and protocols for high-risk data in this documentation for review.
Could you measure and monitor your data protection yourself, or do you need to outsource cybersecurity audits? Bringing in the experts is a wise investment. They have the skills to probe and test your systems and practices thoroughly and will apply their up-to-date knowledge of the latest cyberattack techniques.
The best cyber security experts will also help you to set the boundaries and goals for your audit and will take a solutions-driven approach. That way, you have a firm platform for improvement and a way to protect your data – and your business future!
Why choose Eventura for a cybersecurity audit?
With over 20 years experience in cybersecurity, we know our stuff. Our team of cybersecurity experts and complete a full audit of your business and identify any areas of weakness, which could leave you vulnerable to cyberattacks.
We were even mentioned in the Governments National Cyber Security Centre (NCSN) Annual Review 2020 when we were chosen to test their “Exercise in a Box” designed to help small businesses prepare and respond to cyberthreats. You can read the article here.
There is a common misconception that cyberattacks don’t happen to SMEs but this couldn’t be further from the truth. With our expert knowledge, we can help you protect your business’s future from the ever increasing threat of cybercriminals.
If you would like to speak to one of our cybersecurity experts or request a cybersecurity audit, you can request a free call back here.