Cybersecurity: Protecting your Growth

Cybersecurity risks challenge your business development. You need to address the bad risks so you can take the good risks that let you grow and maneuver to stay ahead of your competition.

You also need expert insights into cyber risk and how you must defend your organization and protect your growth.

You watch your bottom lines and lines of business as you pursue your company’s goals. You must also follow your security risks and keep them in check as you move forward. So, what are the risks?

“The biggest cybersecurity risk is the unknown,” said HORNE Account Specialist Sarah Duncan. “You have vulnerabilities you don’t know that expose you to security threats

You need to see your environment to identify your vulnerabilities, close them and limit your exposure.”

Penetration tests find your vulnerabilities

Many threats target the vulnerabilities hiding in your environment. You may already use multiple tools to mitigate the risks, which is what HORNE recommends.

“We encourage a layered approach to cybersecurity, investing in security technologies,” Duncan said, “but you shouldn’t stop there. You may not have set those technologies properly, or they may not be protecting you as you think. That’s when you need penetration testing.”

Penetration testing reveals vulnerabilities so you can close them, adjust your security controls and protect your data. Sealing security weaknesses protects your operations, facilities and physical assets against cyberattacks.

Penetration testing specialists explore the same areas of your environment as a criminal hacker. They use the same tools and tactics hackers do to discover your vulnerabilities, then report them to you.

These experts look for vulnerabilities common to many organizations. They also test your unique environment for vulnerabilities that are specific to you. If they see something that merits investigation, they do it within that engagement.

“You should do penetration testing at least once a year; some industries require it more often,” Duncan said. “Vulnerabilities develop as technologies grow, and experts are always finding new ones.”

Vulnerability to social engineering

Be on the lookout for social engineering, such as phishing. Criminals use social engineering to take advantage of users’ trusting nature. Once they gain a user’s confidence, they can access their personal information and  business accounts, intellectual property and customer data.

“Your people are your most significant weakness,” said Duncan. “Users don’t realize how easy it is for the attackers to gain access to the environment through them.

“That is why user security awareness is essential to counter social engineering,” she said. Businesses need to gauge social engineering to teach users how to avoid phishing.

It’s crucial to test how users respond to social engineering attacks, such as phishing, using controlled phishing attacks, Duncan said.

“We can then educate your users based on their performance in response to those attacks.”

Enterprise risk assessments

With the sped-up evolution of emerging technologies, options for extending your competitive advantage in the marketplace are increasing. But the more the technologies, the more vulnerabilities and risks.

“You need to understand your environment,” said Duncan. “With a risk assessment and a gap analysis, you can determine how to improve your security.”

New and emerging technologies in your environment require you to assess the risks and find the gaps in cybersecurity that appear when you adopt them.

Enterprise risk assessments uncover the state of your cybersecurity hygiene. You can quickly adjust security controls, policies and procedures based on assessment results. A gap analysis reveals security gaps that you can close right away. You can also find the risks and gaps in your vendors using risk assessments.

“That’s something we talk to clients about all the time: getting them prepared, understanding their security baseline,” Duncan said.

Proactive cybersecurity

It’s always better to prevent a problem than deal with it after it happens, and the same is true with cybersecurity, Duncan said.

“We always coach our clients to take a proactive approach to cybersecurity, which is the best defense,” said Duncan. “Reactive cybersecurity that responds to breaches when they happen is necessary but insufficient on its own.”

When your company leadership is proactive, it becomes ingrained in the company culture, she said. That cultural shift is crucial to preparing ahead of unpredictable attacks.

When you equip yourself to withstand cyberattacks, you set yourself free to invest optimally to execute your competitive strategy. You can make the bold decisions you need to make to secure the future of the business.

Click here to learn more about how HORNE cybersecurity services can help you thrive in a risky world.

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