Cyber security threats and trends can change year over year as technology continues to advance at alarming speeds. As such, it’s critical for Texas business owners to regularly assess their data protection practices.
Now is a great time to take a look at your current cyber security practices and make achievable cyber security adjustments to help protect yourself from costly breaches.
Additionally, if your company stores data and information digitally, you should have a cyber risk management program that addresses prevention, disclosure, crisis management and insurance coverage in the event of a data breach.
Recently we covered cybersecurity and ransomware for business owners, what it is and how you can respond.
In this article, we will focus cybersecurity tips that will help business owners reduce data exposures. Plus, we share the 4 components of quality cyber risk management for Texas business owners.
The Pasadena Insurance Agency team is committed to helping business owners know, understand, and protect themselves from one of the greatest threats to their company. If you have questions or would like more information about our Risk Management services, give us a call or request a quote online for cyber insurance.
10 Cyber Security Tips to Reduce Your Data Exposures
The following are tips your company can implement to ensure you don’t become the victim of a cyber crime:
- Provide security training for your team—Employees are your first line of defense when it comes to cyber threats. Even the most robust and expensive data protection solutions can be compromised should an employee click a malicious link or download fraudulent software.
As such, it’s critical for organizations to thoroughly train personnel on common cyber threats and how to respond. Employees should understand the dangers of visiting harmful websites, leaving their devices unattended and oversharing personal information on social media.
Your employees should also know your cyber security policies and know how to report suspicious activity.
- Install strong antivirus software and keep it updated—Outside of training your employees on the dangers of poor cyber security practices, strong antivirus software is one of the best days to protect your data.
Organizations should conduct thorough research to choose software that’s best for their needs. Once installed, antivirus programs should be kept up to date.
- Instill safe web browsing practices— Deceptive and malicious websites can easily infect your network, often leading to more serious cyber attacks.
To protect your organization, employees should be trained on proper web usage and instructed to only interact with secured websites. For further protection, companies should consider blocking known threats and potentially malicious web pages outright.
- Create strong password policies—Ongoing password management can help prevent unauthorized attackers from compromising your organization’s password-protected information.
Effective password management protects the integrity, availability and confidentiality of an organization’s passwords. Above all, you’ll want to create a password policy that specifies all of the organization’s requirements related to password management.
This policy should require employees to change their password on a regular basis, avoid using the same password for multiple accounts and use special characters in their password.
- Use multi-factor authentication—While complex passwords can help deter cyber criminals, they can still be cracked. To further prevent cyber criminals from gaining access to employee accounts, multi-factor authentication is key.
Multi-factor authentication adds a layer of security that allows companies to protect against compromised credentials. Through this method, users must confirm their identity by providing extra information (e.g., a phone number, unique security code) when attempting to access corporate applications, networks and servers.
- Get vulnerability assessments—The best way to evaluate your company’s data exposures is through a vulnerability assessment. Using a system of simulated attacks and stress tests, vulnerability assessments can help you uncover entry points into your system.
Following these tests, security experts compile their findings and provide recommendations for improving network and data safety.
- Patch systems regularly and keep them updated—A common way cyber criminals gain entry into your system is by exploiting software vulnerabilities. To prevent this, it’s critical that you update applications, operating systems, security software and firmware on a regular basis.
- Back up your data—In the event that your system is compromised, it’s important to keep backup files. Failing to do so can result in the loss of critical business or proprietary data.
- Understand phishing threats and how to respond—In broad terms, phishing is a method cyber criminals use to gather personal information. In these scams, phishers send an email or direct users to fraudulent websites, asking victims to provide sensitive information.
These emails and websites are designed to look legitimate and trick individuals into providing credit card numbers, account numbers, passwords, usernames or other sensitive information. Phishing is becoming more sophisticated by the day, and it’s more important than ever to understand the different types of attacks, how to identify them and preventive measures you can implement to keep your organization safe.
As such, it’s critical to train employees on common phishing scams and other cyber security concerns. Provide real-world examples during training to help them better understand what to look for.
- Create an incident response plan—Most organizations have some form of data protection in place. While these protections are critical for minimizing the damages caused by a breach, they don’t provide clear action steps following an attack. That’s where cyber incident response plans can help.
While cyber security programs help secure an organization’s digital assets, cyber incident response plans provide clear steps for companies to follow when a cyber event occurs. Response plans allow organizations to notify impacted customers and partners quickly and efficiently, limiting financial and reputational damages.
Four Components of Cyber Risk Management
Good cyber risk management requires the planning and execution of all four of these components.
Develop Strategies to Prevent a Data Breach
Your data breach prevention strategies may include encrypting all devices used by your employees, such as laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Encrypting these devices will prevent unauthorized access if a device is lost or stolen. Unencrypted devices are often not covered by a cyber liability policy, so make sure you know whether you need to encrypt the devices or not.
Your strategies may also include educating employees about phishing and pharming scams.
Remind them not to click on anything that looks suspicious or seems too good to be true.
Analyze your cyber risks from three different perspectives: technology, people and processes.
This risk assessment will give you a clear picture of potential holes in your security. Revisit and revise your plan regularly, because new risks arise often, sometimes even daily.
Know Your Disclosure Responsibilities
If you experience a data breach, you may be legally required to notify certain people. If your company is publicly traded, guidelines issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) make it clear that you must report cyber security incidents to stockholders— even when your company is only at risk of an incident.
The SEC advises timely, comprehensive and accurate disclosure about risks and events that would be important for an investor or client to know. It’s important to evaluate what information and how much detail should be released.
Notifying a broad base when it is not required could cause unnecessary concern for those who have not been affected by the breach. Some extreme cases of a data breach may cause you to
go further than just assessing and disclosing the information. You may have to destruct or alter data depending on its sensitivity.
Your Crisis Management and Response Plan
Preparedness is key when developing your cyber risk management program. When you experience a data breach, you need to be prepared to respond quickly and appropriately. This is where your crisis management and response plans come into play.
Determine when and how the breach occurred, what information was obtained and how many individuals were affected. Then assess the risks you face because of the data breach and how you will mitigate those risks.
While managing a crisis, let your clients know what actions you are taking, but also be sure you’re not disclosing too much information. It’s a delicate balance.
Focus on improving future actions—this will restore trust in your stakeholders and clients.
Your in-house lawyers, risk managers and IT department should work together to create and refine your plan.
Everyone should be on board and know their responsibilities when a breach happens.
Protect Your Data—and Your Business
Your cyber risk management program should include cyber liability insurance coverage that fits the needs of your business.
Cyber liability insurance is specifically designed to address the risks that come with using modern technology—risks that other types of business liability coverage simply won’t cover. The level of coverage your business needs is based on your individual operations and can vary depending on your range of exposure.
Your cyber liability insurance policy can be tailored to fit your unique situation and can be written to include the costs of disclosure after a data breach.
Are you thinking about the cyber security measures in your business? What questions do you have about making sure you are protected? Leave us a comment. Tell us your biggest hurdles.
Contact Pasadena Insurance Agency, Inc. to learn more about cyber liability insurance and how you can protect your business from a data breach. Give us a call at 713-869-6991