Years ago, it may have seemed like only government agencies with top-secret intel or wealthy international banks had to worry about hackers. Nowadays, even the smallest small business could see its reputation ruined by a data breach, while larger companies could have their sensitive data taken hostage in a ransomware attack that costs millions to resolve.
A cybersecurity assessment can help ensure that your business is taking the proper steps to protect itself. It can also give you a competitive edge by demonstrating to customers and prospects that you take data privacy seriously.
More tech, more risk
Many, if not most, of today’s companies are taking advantage of technologies that allow them to gather, track and analyze customer and financial data. This includes software for mission-critical activities such as payroll, accounts receivable and payable, supply chain management, HR and benefits, and on-site security.
These systems are often cloud-based, meaning the information is stored online so users can access it remotely at any time of day or night. The convenience and analytical power are breathtaking, but they also create a tempting target for cybercriminals and raise the stakes of exposure exponentially.
In truth, the risk of a breach goes far beyond disclosure of confidential personal or financial information. It also raises serious concerns about potential personal injuries, property damage and work stoppage. Imagine the harm a hacker could cause by tampering with a building’s security or fire systems, or remotely manipulating vehicles or equipment.
Benefits of an assessment
Conducting a formal cybersecurity assessment helps you:
- Take inventory of your hardware and software,
- Identify potential vulnerabilities (including access by vendors, partners, and current and former employees), and
- Implement internal controls and other protections to reduce risk.
An assessment can also enable you to develop an incident response plan to mitigate the damage in the event of a breach.
There are several recognized cybersecurity standards and frameworks available to guide these efforts, including those developed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the International Organization for Standardization. The U.S. Small Business Administration also offers cybersecurity assessment tips and best practices on its website.
If you’re particularly concerned, you might want to shop around for a qualified IT consultant to conduct a customized risk assessment. This may make sense if you’re in an industry subject to specific risks.
Become a hard target
Cybersecurity is important for every size and type of company. It may be comforting to think that the bad guys only go after the big guys, but hackers don’t always go after businesses with deep pockets. Sometimes they attack the softest target. Make sure you’re well-protected.