According to an IBM report, the average total for a global data breach is a whopping $4.35 million, but the average cost of a data breach in the U.S. is double that. That number speaks volumes about the threat of cybercrime, and it’s a clear call to action for businesses of all sizes to prioritize cybersecurity. Unfortunately, governments and utilities aren’t immune, as cybercriminals are becoming more sophisticated and brazen.

But here’s the good news: you don’t need to be a tech genius to build resilience against these threats. Some of the most effective strategies are low-tech and accessible to all.

Building business resilience is not just about weathering economic uncertainty — it’s also about being prepared for cyberthreats.

The Importance of Mitigation Strategies

Mitigation strategies are your digital armor, vital in protecting your digital domain. These are the practices that fortify your systems against cyberthreats. Here are some of the best strategies from the National Security Agency that can give you an upper hand:

  1. Keep your systems patched up. Regularly updating software keeps your systems fit and ready to fend off incoming threats.
  2. Limit admin privileges and be watchful of who gets access to what. Develop protocols for resetting login information securely and use a secure password manager to store them.
  3. Only let trusted software play in your digital playground. Use a modern operating system that only allows programs to work if they know they’re safe. Make a list of certificates the system can trust.
  4. Have a plan B. A robust recovery plan should keep critical data, settings, and records safe. Ensure backups are encrypted.
  5. Keep a close eye on your systems and configuration. A well-configured system is less prone to vulnerabilities. List all the computers, software, and devices connected to the network. Get rid of anything unnecessary.
  6. Be proactive in searching for potential threats. Dedicate a team to actively search for and eliminate threat actors from the network. Utilizing passive detection methods and data analytics is crucial to identify suspicious or harmful actions.
  7. Make full use of the security features available in your hardware. Use special hardware to ensure your devices are safe, and replace older devices with new ones.
  8. Separate your networks based on their applications. Keep critical networks and services separate. Consider using a network with content restrictions to prevent potential risks.
  9. Incorporate services that can provide intel on potential threats. Reputation services can enhance your computer’s security by scanning various sources to detect malicious content. Additionally, they offer greater protection than attempting to safeguard yourself.
  10. Add an extra layer of security by requiring more than just a password to access accounts. Consider using physical authentication tokens alongside passwords and PINs.

While these steps are a great defense mechanism, remember that not every threat can be eliminated. So, while it’s essential to implement these best practices, it’s also crucial to build resilience for when threats do slip through the cracks.

No Strategy Can Be Perfect

Cybersecurity is a game of cat and mouse. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, a new type of threat pops up, and the chase begins again. Plus, if you’re a company with limited IT resources or expertise, setting up a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy can feel like trying to scale a mountain without any gear.

While it’s crucial to stay on top of the latest tech solutions for cybersecurity, there’s also a lot to be said for “low-tech” backup plans such as:

– Creating a culture of cybersecurity awareness among your staff;
– Conducting regular data backups, security checks, and employee training;
– Having a secure data storage facility with access protocols in place;

By investing in technical solutions and low-tech backup plans, businesses can give themselves the best chance of keeping their data safe.

Offline Answers to Online Attacks

Cybersecurity is all about staying one step ahead of the hackers. Although no strategy is perfect, there are still measures to build physical security and resilience.

Make Regular Offline Backups

Time to talk about a strategy that’s old school but still as effective as ever — making regular offline backups. Here’s a quick rundown of some best practices for doing so:

– It all starts with a secure account identity. You wouldn’t give your house keys to a stranger, right? The same goes for your cloud storage.
Use a backup client — imagine it as a guest with access to your cloud storage. You don’t want them hanging around when they’re not needed. So, keep the number of backup clients to a minimum and ensure they don’t have valid credentials when your cloud storage isn’t in use.
– Some cloud storage services offer advanced access controls. If available, set them up to allow authorized clients to create new backups and deny connection requests when the storage isn’t in use.
– Keep multiple backups and make sure they’re logically separated. This way, if one backup gets compromised, you’ve got others to fall back on. A popular strategy is the ‘3-2-1’ rule — at least 3 copies on 2 devices and 1 offsite.
– The more often you create backups, the less data you’ll lose. Don’t just create backups; test them regularly to ensure they work as expected.

Regular offline backups might seem like a chore, but it’s a small price for peace of mind. The sustainability of computing and data storage technologies is uncertain, so it’s best to have multiple layers of security.

Protect Critical Communications

But when it comes to safeguarding your communications, sometimes old is gold. If your company’s internet goes down or your Voice over IP (VoIP) system is compromised, you could be cut off from the outside world. That’s where redundancy comes into play.

Redundancy ensures that if one system fails, another will take over. By preserving phone lines rather than entirely replacing them with VoIP, you guarantee critical communications remain operational in an emergency.

Preserve Power to Core Operations

Did you know that the energy sector is often the top cyberattack target? For instance, remember the Colonial Pipeline incident? The cyberattack on a major fuel pipeline led to widespread disruptions and highlighted the vulnerability of energy infrastructure. If an event like this were to happen again, you’d want a backup plan to keep the lights on, wouldn’t you?

Solar panels, especially roof-mounted ones, can provide a reliable energy source in a systemic outage. By harnessing the sun’s rays, you’ll contribute to a cleaner environment and bolster your energy security.

Question Suppliers and Partners

It’s not just about what you do to protect your operations but also about the actions of those you rely on. Your business doesn’t operate in a vacuum. It’s part of a vast network, and every node needs to be secure. Therefore, you must question your suppliers and partners about their cybersecurity measures.

Ask them: What are they doing to bolster their resilience against cyber threats? Do they have off-grid backups for their power needs? If you’ve been keeping up with our discussions, you’ll know that off-grid solar power systems can be a lifeline when the primary power grid fails.

Don’t Forget Physical Security

Physical security plays a crucial role in bolstering your cybersecurity defenses. Limiting physical access to sensitive programs and devices is a fundamental aspect of cybersecurity. Having the most sophisticated firewall in the world is no use if someone can simply walk up to your server and plug in a USB stick.

The same goes for your business premises. Unauthorized access could lead to various threats, from theft of critical hardware to access to sensitive information. A good physical security strategy includes secure locks, access control systems, and surveillance cameras.

Educate Employees

Humans are generally the weakest link in our cybersecurity chains. Even the most advanced security systems can crumble if employees unknowingly click on a suspicious link or download a malicious attachment. And let’s face it: phishing scams, ransomware attacks, and similar threats have become frighteningly sophisticated.

The answer is straightforward yet vital: educate your teams. Provide regular training to ensure every team member:

– Is well-equipped to spot vulnerabilities and scams;
– Understands the importance of strong, unique passwords;
– Knows the dangers of unsolicited email attachments;
– Understands potential risks of unsecured Wi-Fi networks;

With all these measures in place, you will be well on your way to creating a secure and resilient environment for your business.