In cybersecurity, it’s easy to become obsessed over external malicious factors and lose sight of the whole picture which includes internal vulnerabilities. When it comes to cybersecurity, the best defense includes shoring up your internal defenses because many critical vulnerabilities are too close to home for comfort.
What is an internal cyber vulnerability?
A vulnerability is a flaw in a system that exposes the system to risk of attack. In cybersecurity, these vulnerabilities can be related to the computer systems and processes and procedures you use. While you may know famous software vulnerabilities like Heartbleed and WannaCry, internal vulnerabilities can be much more mundane. For example, someone leaving the default password on a router or assuming your employees know how to recognize spear phishing attacks can lead to a lot of heartache for a chief information security officer.
As they say in sports, “The best defense is a good offense.” In this case, a good offense includes taking a proactive approach to identifying and fixing vulnerabilities, which we’ll cover next.
How to identify cyber vulnerabilities in enterprise-level organizations
Before you can identify cyber vulnerabilities, you must have a clear idea of your organizational assets, including intellectual property. Frédéric Virmont, a seasoned cybersecurity expert, says, “You have to identify what’s critical for the business: servers, applications, everything. Once you identify those critical assets, then you can make a plan to secure them and ensure they’re maintained with security patches.”
After identifying your critical business assets, you can expose and triage any vulnerabilities through various security tools—and then patch them up.
Put staff on your list of organizational assets as cyber vulnerabilities include accidental and intentional insider attacks by employees.
Six ways to reduce internal cyber vulnerabilities with pre-emptive measures
1) Encrypt data and communications – Protect your data while it’s in transit and at rest with a user-friendly encryption solution. Billions of emails are sent every day and without encryption each one represents a security risk. And in 2018, 4.8 billion records were stolen during breaches and less than three per cent of those records were encrypted.
2) Teach employees about cybersecurity – A recent PwC report in the US found that 32 percent of respondents consider insider threats more costly and damaging than external incidents. Because employees are on the frontline of cybersecurity, it’s essential to educate them about the importance of using security programs and processes and how to identify and report suspicious incidents. Cybercrime is increasingly sophisticated—especially social engineering and spear phishing—which is why regular and effective cybersecurity training is necessary for all staff.
3) Beef up your security policies – Make sure your policies support your security efforts. Some of the best practices include:
- Limiting user access through assigning appropriate permissions to non-IT employees
- Setting appropriate guidelines for creating strong passwords or enforcing two-factor authentication
- Limiting Internet usage by defining or controlling what type of content can be viewed
- Defining file storage locations for employees and denying usage of USB drives or personal cloud storage
- Choosing policy-based encryption with flexible delivery methods for communications
- Effective vetting of third-party vendors
4) Have an up-to-date disaster recovery plan – A disaster recovery plan allows all staff to act swiftly—using prepared strategy—when disaster strikes. This way, organizational efforts can go towards closing the vulnerability and monitoring it, rather than trying to figure out what to do in the middle of a crisis.
5) Don’t migrate vulnerabilities to the cloud – While there are many benefits to offloading on-premise servers and applications to the cloud, organizations must avoid bringing along existing vulnerabilities with them. Implementing security tools prior to cloud migration is essential.
6) Communicate effectively with the board – Since they may not always understand the technical assets, many boards shy away from cybersecurity risk management. Instead of communicating about tech specs, talk to the board about the cost of not implementing security measures, return on investment trends and reputation management with clients. Raphael Narezzi suggests talking to the board of directors like this, “It can be a cost today, but I guarantee you, the scenario we see when a board acts before an event, is a completely different scenario than when they don’t act at all.”
The benefits of closing internal vulnerabilities
Closing internal vulnerabilities takes time, resources and expertise and is now part of the cost of doing business. But there are benefits. As mentioned above, data security results in customer-centric benefits such as building reputation and digital trust and helps pave the way for competitive differentiators.
Closing internal vulnerabilities takes time, resources and expertise and is now part of the cost of doing business. But there are benefits with a solid return on investment. A recent Forrester Total Economic Impact™ study, for example, revealed that a typical enterprise-level organization can expect a seven-month payback period and slash $2.7M off their bottom line by employing our flexible OneWorld encryption solution. Get the full Forrester Total Economic Impact™ study of OneWorld now.
With so much at risk, isn’t it time to shore up your vulnerabilities?
At Echoworx, encryption is all we do. Our OneWorld encryption platform and cloud security services are a natural extension to existing security programs and offer a wide range of flexible options for secure message delivery. You can learn more about the ROI of Echoworx OneWorld encryption here.
By: Randy Yu, Senior Manager Technical Operations & Support, Echoworx