Cyber threats are one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today, regardless of industries and areas of operation.
As technology continues to evolve rapidly, so too do the tactics used by cybercriminals to breach defences and steal data or disrupt operations. While many victims of network breaches and hacks may be purely victims of circumstance, recent high-profile cyber attacks demonstrate that no organisation is immune to the threat, with even large enterprises falling victim.
Recent statistics show that 32% of businesses have suffered at least one cyber attack in the last 12 months alone, with many going out of business as a result of the financial losses or reputational damage suffered consequently.
As a business leader or CEO, the buck stops with you when it comes to establishing robust and stringent cyber security. Whether this comes in the form of strengthening your internal processes and policies, entrusting third-party managed detection and response providers, or a mixture of both, your approach and ethos as CEO are integral to your overall cyber security posture.
By taking proactive steps and leading from the front, you can significantly strengthen your organisation’s cyber resilience and mitigate most of the opportunistic attempts to compromise your infrastructure. In doing so, you will be taking more proactive steps to safeguard not just your own organisation’s data, but that of your customers, stakeholders, investors and suppliers.
Here are five key ways CEOs can drive real change and protect against ever-evolving cyber risks:
The human element is often the weakest link in cyber security. Despite setting up highly sophisticated defences and MFA (multi-factor authentication), staff errors and lack of awareness about threats frequently lead to breaches.
As a CEO, you need to establish a culture across the company where cyber security is baked into everyday discourse and activities.
Some steps to achieve this include:
Fostering an organisational culture focused on security will lead to more of your team exercising caution in the right areas, thus proactively spotting and reporting more anomalies and possible risks. This is a powerful defensive layer alongside your technical controls.
Most cyber attacks exploit compromised user credentials in some way, making limiting access a key priority.
Direct your IT or security teams to:
These additional mandated steps will make it far harder for attackers to move laterally even if they breach preliminary defences through brute force or DDoS attacks.
Penetration testing, red team assessments, and vulnerability scans provide invaluable insight into weaknesses in your cyber defences. If you have a convoluted or cross-border setup with plenty of interconnected systems across geographies, it pays off to ensure every touchpoint and endpoint is as secure as possible.
As a CEO you should:
Consider prioritizing regular comprehensive security testing a set item in your annual budget. Testing is an investment that saves costs long term by fixing flaws before they are exploited.
Proactive testing provides assurance that your defences match your actual level of risk exposure. It identifies concrete ways to improve protections before attackers do.
Today’s fast-moving threat landscape demands continual monitoring to spot cyber attacks or breaches as early as possible.
Consider taking the below steps:
Skilled external services are invaluable for prompt threat detection and response that can stop small incidents from becoming major breaches.
Despite best efforts, some incidents will inevitably occur. No cyber security setup is immune from all types of external threats from malicious actors.
It’s imperative that you:
With a tested plan in place, your business can respond quickly and, effectively coordinate damage limitation when an incident does transpire.
In today’s climate, cyber attacks are now a case of when not if. However, CEOs and business leaders have many options to significantly enhance cyber resilience and lead by example. Even if data is marginally compromised, the consequences can be lessened in severity if proper protocols are followed and transparency is exercised.
By taking the steps outlined above, organisations can tackle the cyber threat challenge head-on. Meanwhile, those who neglect cyber security do so at their peril, irreparable financial or reputational damage.