‍Cyber security breaches have been on the rise, and it's expected that by 2023, they'll have grown to 15.4 million. While technological advancements have made it easy for organizations to upgrade their security measures, malicious hackers use sophisticated tools. This means that in addition to implementing strict cyber security policies, you also have to take proactive steps to reduce your cyber security risks.

You can't afford to leave your data security up to chance as an organization. The business impact could be astronomical; it could result in lost revenue, operational disruption, and stolen customer data. Data breaches also cause reputational damage that, in some cases, could take you out of business. So, with everything that's at risk, how can you reduce cyber security risk for your organization? With managed cyber security services. Keep reading to learn more.

Increasing cyber risks

It used to be that you could only get hacked by a guy in a basement. But now, cyber attacks come from all over the world, and there's no way to know when you're next.

And it's not just big businesses anymore. It doesn't matter if you have 10 people working for you or 10 million—if you have data, you need to protect your organization.

When we talk about cyber attacks, one common word you'll hear is "malware," or malicious software. It's a type of computer program that can cause damage to your machine without you even realizing it. In fact, one estimate says that 90% of all computers worldwide are infected with some form of malware.

So what is it? And what can you do about it?

Types of malware include viruses, worms, spyware, ransomware, and more—basically anything that enters your computer without your knowledge and does something bad to it. Some types are "passive," in that they just sit there on your computer and wait for certain conditions before activating. Others are "active," in that they actively monitor and collect data from your machine as soon as they're installed. All types are ways for hackers to access your files and personal information in order to steal them or use them to commit identity theft.

Mitigate cyber risk

Risk is the chance that something bad will happen. In cyber security, this is usually in the form of data loss or downtime, but can also be injury or death.

The three categories of risks are:

  • Unauthorized access
  • Unintentional breaches
  • Operational risk

What is risk management?

Understanding risk management is key to understanding how cyber ranges fit into an organization's security strategy. It’s also important to know the difference between “risk” and “risk management.”

Risk is a future event that may have a positive or negative effect on your project or its objectives.

Risk management is the process of identifying and responding to risk factors throughout the life of a project/process and in all its potential areas and subareas.

Vulnerability and risk are two sides of the same coin

One of the biggest misconceptions in cyber security is that risks are vulnerabilities. This is false. Risks are not vulnerabilities, but instead, risks are the probability and impact of a vulnerability being exploited.

Think about the following scenario: Your organization recently implemented a new software system with known vulnerabilities. However, these vulnerabilities cannot be exploited because there are no users or assets connected to this system. As a result, there is no risk to your organization because there is no chance of the exploitation of this vulnerability causing any harm to your business processes or assets.

In order to identify if a vulnerability creates risk, you must understand the impact and probability of it being successfully exploited by an attacker. For instance, if your organization deployed a database server which had a critical remote code execution vulnerability for which there were known working exploits on the Internet, and your database server was directly accessible from the Internet without any authentication controls in place, then attackers could exploit this vulnerability at any time and you would have no way to stop them until you patched the vulnerability.

In such cases where exploitation is imminent, it’s safe to assume that there is a high risk to your organization.

When you're trying to keep your data secure, what are you supposed to look for? How do you know when something's gone wrong?

If you've ever watched a crime drama, you've probably heard the term "indicator of compromise" used before. It's exactly what it sounds like: Any piece of forensic data that indicates that something bad has happened. Indicators of compromise (IOCs) can include system log entries, system files or activity in network traffic.

Security analysts and information security professionals use indicators of compromise to detect data breaches and other compromises on systems or networks. They also help with investigations after a breach has occurred.

So what does this mean for you?

IOCs are the things that alert you to the fact that you've been hacked—and they can be a lifesaver when it comes to mitigating attacks and preventing future breaches.

An IOC is anything that indicates a system has been breached by cyber criminals. These include:

  • File hashes (i.e., file metadata)
  • Domain names used in phishing attacks
  • IP addresses used by malicious software (malware) such as ransomware

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What is a Zero-Day exploit?

A zero-day exploit is a hacking technique that targets a previously unknown vulnerability in a computer application. The term “zero-day” refers to the fact that the developers of the attacked application had zero days to develop a fix before the attack happened. Zero-day exploits are typically developed by attackers who want to use them for malicious purposes, but they can also be discovered by accident by security researchers.

Exploiting vulnerabilities in software has been around as long as software has existed. However, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the term “zero-day” started being used to describe these types of attacks.

Conduct regular employee training

One of the common ways malicious hackers gain access to your database is through phishing emails sent to your employees. In fact, statistics show that over 3.4 billion phishing emails are sent globally. These emails contain malicious malware in the form of links that give hackers access to user data, including login credentials.

The best way to prevent this kind of attack is by educating employees and implementing security measures. Training employees on identifying fake emails and other hacking attempts can help prevent attacks. Security policies should also be implemented to ensure compliance.

Have you ever wondered how hackers break into business networks? They often do so by sending phishing emails.

Phishing emails are a form of social engineering where a hacker tries to trick an employee into revealing confidential information about their company. Phishing emails look like legitimate messages from trusted sources and are often hard to detect.

For example, a hacker may send an email impersonating leaders in the organization asking for personal details. Without proper training, the employee may end up divulging this information. This is why you must conduct cyber security awareness training with your employees. Let them know about the primary forms of cyber security attacks and the best ways to prevent them.

You should also never click on links that come directly from an email or text message unless you are 100% sure they are legitimate. Check the domain name of the link; if it doesn't match the company's domain name, don't click on it.

But phishing isn't just limited to email. It can happen through social media as well: someone may pretend to be your friend online, then send you a link that they say will lead to something interesting (like a video)—but which will actually download malware onto your computer instead.

Apply layers of security in cyber security

This kind of security introspection can be richly beneficial to your business. It could uncover hidden security vulnerabilities that could expose your business to data breaches, regulatory non-compliance or other risks that have the potential to hurt your reputation and bottom line. An experienced, external perspective—a trusted partner who can help you ask the right questions, use a tested approach for success and get results—is what you'll need.

Security is a journey, not a destination.

There's no such thing as a "set it and forget it" security program, but we can help you make it so that your program is as strong, robust and adaptable as possible.

Partnering with the right team will help prepare you to develop a strategy, build your environment and maintain your ongoing security posture in order to help protect your organization from evolving threats.

Undoubtedly, your business is constantly looking for ways to innovate and grow. But as you do, you have to make sure that your information and data are protected. A trusted partner can help you create a plan to prioritize resources, align decision-making, and build executive support for the security initiatives that matter most. This can include cloud, IoT, mobile, and other initiatives so that security is an integral part of your digital strategy and transformation initiatives.

Use strong passwords

Who knew that something so small could have such an enormous impact on your business?

It's true; hackers don't need much to gain access to your systems. All they require is a small gap, and then they'll exploit it fully.

Did you know that more than 80% of organizational data breaches result from weak passwords? Not only do hackers have advanced cracking technology, but simple passwords don't cut it anymore. Instead, you need to use complex passwords and deploy multi-factor authentication strategies to discourage cyber crime in your organization. You should also discourage password sharing among employees so that even if one desktop is hacked, the rest remain secure.

When it comes to password security, there are four things you should always keep in mind:

1. Length: All passwords should contain at least 8 characters.

2. Characters: They should contain alphanumeric characters.

3. Personal information: They shouldn't contain any personal information.

4. Uniqueness: They should be unique and never used before.

Other things to consider when thinking about password security include making sure your password isn't a correctly spelled word, and keeping your passwords safely stored in an encrypted format.

You can’t manage all digital certificates deployed across your enterprise network manually with a spreadsheet

According to Gartner research, over 80% of Fortune 500 companies have experienced a certificate-related outage.

Why certificates?

Companies rely on thousands of digital certificates that are live at any given point, and keeping track of them all manually is impossible. One of those expiring certificates can cause cascading failures such as outages of critical systems.

It is no longer possible to govern, secure and authenticate these identities using spreadsheets and manual digital certificate deployment and revocation methods. Worse still, a single expired certificate can provide bad actors with the perfect opportunity to infiltrate an enterprise network and cause havoc.

You are never too small to be a target

We're all connected. Whether you're a small business owner or an everyday Internet user, every person is affected by cybercrime.

Cyber crime is not just an IT problem—it is an increasingly important risk for all businesses, from the smallest to the largest. Even today, too many companies believe they are not relevant enough to fall victim to a cyber attack. If you have exposure, you are a target…and everyone has exposure. Cyber attackers can specifically target a company, or they can set out general attacks to see who gets caught in their net. Either way, you will suffer an attack at some point.

Final thought

Whether it's hidden ransomware and brute-force attacks designed to divert your attention while data is being stolen, or a trusted identity introduced through simple human error, risk is everywhere. It's outside your business, waiting to pounce, and it's standing in the shadows of opportunity, too.

Automated factories and AI-powered customer care centers—they're full of potential. But they're not without their risks.

Don't be a victim of a cyber attack! Let us help you identify, quantify, prioritize your risks, and then manage them. Reliable risk management isn't the responsibility of a single person or team. It requires a systemic, aligned approach that reaches across business units, leaders, and processes, intersecting every organization's individual, machine, and element.

SSI wants to be your partner for managed cyber security services. Let us show you how we can protect your business by identifying and responding to cyber risk factors so you can keep operations running. Request a managed cyber security services proposal today.