What Are the 5 Simple Steps to an Effective Cyber Security Policy (Part 1)
Cyber security is often cited to be the biggest threat faced by businesses and governments today. A population and economy that is connected globally has its advantages, but it also means that the threats can come from anywhere. Often, it is not possible to stop the threat at the source itself and all you can do is build up defences to protect your business data and information.
Most large companies and governments are already well aware of these threats and they have been spending billions to set up defences like security policies and contingency plans. This has meant that the threat has now shifted somewhat towards smaller businesses who do not have the financial resources to put up a similar level of protection.
However, protection is not just a matter of spending on hardware, software or manpower. The first step would be to set up a robust cyber security policy. Considering that more than half of all breaches happen due to internal human error, this alone can make a significant impact. So, what goes into building a watertight cyber security policy? Let’s find out.
Cyber security is a business issue, not just a technical one
Many companies treat cyber security as something confined to the tech department. However, the threats from cyber security are now equivalent to the threats faced by competing products or firms. Even if the company has no highly valuable proprietary data or intellectual property, a cyber breach can still pose a massive reputational risk. Therefore, cyber security should be treated as a priority at all levels of management and by all departments.
Protecting what’s valuable
The most valuable assets for companies might not necessarily be physically expensive items but might be data that is residing online in some cloud server. Figuring out what’s valuable is the first step to creating a protection plan. And the methods to measure the value of a company’s assets must be in line with customer expectations in the 21st century.
Managing weak links
Having the strongest cyber security policies would mean little unless the weakest links are addressed. The weakest links are generally channel partners such as vendors who have access to a company’s systems or information. Companies that provide access to sensitive information to their vendors should ensure that the vendors are not the weak links in their cyber security plans. Reviews of their policies or even surprise external audits might be mandated.
Internally, the weakest link when it comes to cyber security are the employees themselves. It’s not complex hacking tools that are the biggest threats, its employees being careless – setting up weak passwords, falling prey to social engineering scams, clicking or downloading something they shouldn’t and so on. Any cyber security policy should take this into account and provide the relevant training to employees and sensitise them about these issues. It’s not just sufficient to disseminate this information, it might make sense to have periodic quizzes even.
Monitoring and updating
The most menacing aspect of these cyber security threats is the speed with which they evolve. Stealing and selling data is one thing, but now we are seeing other things like holding data/ emails hostage or even spreading false information with the intent of causing reputational damage. These things were not usually protected against before, but what use are policies if they only protect you from what was damaging last year?
We will go into some more detail on this topic in a future article.
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