Small Business Brief

Safety & Loss Prevention, Technology & Software

The Ethical Hacker’s Guide to Avoiding a Cyber Security Breach

Cybercrime costs the global economy a staggering $2.9 million every minute, which adds up to about $1.5 trillion each year. No company is too large or too small to hide from the occasional cyber security breach. So, if you think that your business is too obscure to be on the cybercrime radar, you better think again.

Businesses and organizations have turned to ethical or white hat hackers to address these cyber security threats.  An ethical hacker’s job is to identify any loopholes and vulnerabilities in a network to safeguard a company’s or organization’s IT infrastructure. The ethical hacker explains to the client all the network vulnerabilities and steps they should take to protect the network and data systems.

If you’re not on top of your game, you’ll be left picking up all the pieces after a disastrous cyber security breach. Read on and find out some foolproof techniques you could use to sidestep cyber security breaches.

Restricting Access to Sensitive Data

A company’s data system with no authorization levels is a disaster waiting to happen. You can’t have every Tom, Dick, and Harry gaining access to crucial company data. Unrestricted employee access is a huge security risk in so many ways.

When only a few employees can view certain documents, it decreases the chances of an employee clicking on a malicious link. It also makes it easier for you or the administrator to keep track of log-ins and flag any suspicious activity.

Establishing levels of authorization should be the first step in ensuring the safety of a company’s network and data systems. What’s more, establishing these levels of authorization is a walk in the park for any serious ethical hacker. 

Create an Asset Inventory

Establish an inventory of all software and hardware assets in the network and the physical IT infrastructure.  You can create a spreadsheet of all these assets or create your own diagrammatical representation of the company’s assets. The goal of this inventory of assets is to give you a clear picture of the company’s security setup.

You can create categories or ratings of the assets in question by their vulnerability to cyber security threats.  You can then work from the most vulnerable assets to the ones that have a considerable amount of protection. 

This inventory of all the digital assets will also help you lock down end-point protection. It’s easy to overlook end-point protection, but anti-virus protection won’t cut it for major data breaches. You must also account for desktops, laptops, and even mobile phones, which are gateways for data breaches.

Third-Part Compliance

Ensure that all third-parties working with your client are in the security bandwagon. It might seem a bit of a hassle, but the other alternative is a disastrous security breach. To ensure all third-parties are in line with your security protocol, you should:

  • Ensure all companies that demand highly-sensitive data are transparent about what they use the data for.
  • Make sure all third-party companies comply with privacy laws.
  • Ask for background checks for any employees of third-party companies who regularly enter the company’s premises.

Remember, you should only work with third-party vendors and companies that comply with all the above regulations. Be very wary of any company that’s unwilling to comply with any of the above security protocols. Give any third-party that complies with all the above the green light to conduct business with the company.

Regular Staff Training and Education

There’s no other way to say it; employees are the weakest link in the data security train. That’s why it’s so important to conduct regular employee training and education sessions on data security. Employee training is only effective if it’s consistent, and you do it correctly.

A great approach is to have a written employee policy which acts as the framework for your training sessions. This policy should clearly outline how employees should access, handle, retrieve, and dispose of company data.  

For proper employee training, you should have the following on lock:

  • How to create and use unique passwords or passphrases on computers and other company devices.
  • The importance of noting and reporting any suspicious activity.
  • The control of end-user licenses and privileges 
  • Creating and implementing a documented system for employees who leave the company.

Also, train your employees on security awareness, including spotting any suspicious activity and phishing attacks. In most cases, one employee training session isn’t enough for effective employee training. You’ll need a couple of training sessions to drive the message home.

If you can train and educate the employees on data security awareness, then you have a strong frontline defense against cyber security threats.

Update Software Regularly

Ensure that operating systems and all application software are always up-to-date. Many of these updates contain patches to security loopholes that could compromise the data and information systems. By regularly updating the software, you’ll ensure that you’re always on top of any security updates

Formulate a Disaster Recovery Plan

What if you tried your best but failed to prevent a cyber security breach, what’s next?  Well, if you have a plan, you could salvage what remains and stop the damage in its tracks. Either that or you could let all hell break loose; after all, it’s already too late.

A disaster recovery plan is a contingency plan to safeguard your data systems in case of a security breach. A proper recovery plan helps the clients, employees, and customers understand the extent and damage of the breach. If you act fast enough, you can mitigate the disaster completely.

Prevent Cyber Security Breach By Following These Steps

As an ethical hacker, it falls on you to stop any cyber security breach by all means possible. Hopefully, with the above techniques, you’ll be good to go. Remember, proper cyber security is a holistic exercise, so make sure you get all the necessary stakeholders involved.

Cyber security is just as important as any other aspect of your business. For more insightful reads on all matters business, make sure you check out the other pieces on the site.