Data and Privacy security have become increasingly urgent priorities for organizations worldwide. As fraud and phishing schemes become more sophisticated, leaders must be vigilant and aware of how to protect business data and the private information (PII) of employees and customers.
It isn’t sufficient to rely solely on your Chief Information Officer (CIO) or Chief Security Officer (CSO) to safeguard sensitive information. Cybersecurity is a responsibility that extends beyond your IT team, to every leader and individual within the organization.
Consider this your starter checklist. If your business isn’t focused on these 10 points, you should get processes in place to start doing so- and the sooner, the better. New usage of AI tools has made fraud and phishing attacks even more sophisticated, so it’s more important than ever to have plans in place to avoid major issues that could have been avoided with a little due diligence.
What your IT and business leaders should be focused on:
1. Implement Multi-factor Authentication and Strong Password Policies:
One of the simplest yet most effective ways to enhance cybersecurity is to use Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) wherever possible. MFA requires at least three pieces of information for login - username, password and 1 or more additional factors. Most modern devices allow for the additional factor to be a biometric (FaceID, Windows Hello, fingerprints, etc), which is an easy and very secure unique identifier. When MFA cannot be used, encourage employees to create unique, complex passwords and regularly update them. Additionally, company-implemented password manager software gives employees a safe place to store and retrieve strong passwords, which can be difficult to remember.
2. Never share log-in info:
Create a strict policy against using shared login/passwords. It seems like a no-brainer, but it happens more often than you think - teams may share a login to access shared internal tools, vendor portals, or analytics tools with team members. Shared passwords pose a significant risk to businesses for several reasons- it prevents business users from managing/revoking system access, adds risk with compliance and regulatory issues, and more.
3. Educate Employees on Security Threats:
The old cyber security saying “Our people are our weakest link” is unfortunately true! Social engineering campaigns, including Phishing, Ransomware, and Business Email Compromise (BEC) comprise over 75% percent of successful breaches every year. Ensure that all employees are aware of the signs and understand the importance of not clicking on suspicious links or sharing sensitive information without validating an email or text is valid, and business authorized. Give your team regular training sessions and simulated exercises to help reinforce this knowledge.
4. Prepare for and Practice Resiliency:
Data loss can occur due to various reasons, including cyberattacks, hardware failures, or natural disasters. IT leaders should establish robust backup and disaster recovery plans to ensure the resiliency of operations. Regularly hold table top practice sessions with the technical and business teams to exercise and test those plans and allow them to act with confidence in the event of an outage. Regularly test backups and verify their integrity to guarantee a rapid and full recovery.
5. Secure Network Infrastructure:
Protecting the network infrastructure is crucial for maintaining data security. Implement and maintain firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and secure Wi-Fi networks to prevent unauthorized access. Regularly monitor network traffic and conduct vulnerability assessments to identify and address potential weaknesses.
6. Regularly Update Software and Systems:
Outdated software and systems are vulnerable to cyberattacks. IT teams and business leaders should prioritize regular updates, patches, and potential equipment replacement to ensure that all software, operating systems, and applications are up to date. This includes not only desktop and laptop computers, but also network infrastructure, mobile devices and IoT devices connected to the network.
7. Restrict Access to Sensitive Data:
Not all employees require access to sensitive data. Implement strict, role-based access controls to limit access privileges based on job responsibilities. Regularly review and update access permissions to ensure appropriate access for existing employees and to remove access for former employees, contractors and partners.
8. Regularly Monitor and Analyze Logs:
Monitoring and analyzing system logs can help detect any suspicious activities or potential security breaches. Implement a centralized logging system and regularly review logs for any anomalies. This proactive approach enables swift response and mitigation in case of an incident.
9. Get and Maintain Visibility to 3rd Party Vendors and Data
In a modern cloud-based IT environment, your infrastructure and data is often spread out amongst literally hundreds of different 3rd party vendors, partners and platforms. 3rd Party (and now “Nth Party”) Vendor Compromise is the fastest growing area of cyber security incidents. Understanding who is connected to your enterprise systems, what role they play, and what data they have access to is critical to successful day to day operations and to having an effective response should an event occur.
10. Conduct Regular Security Assessments
Periodic security assessments are essential to identify vulnerabilities and assess the effectiveness of existing security measures. Engage third-party experts to conduct comprehensive assessments and penetration tests to uncover potential weaknesses and recommend necessary improvements. Be sure to include all aspects of your infrastructure, including critical 3rd party vendors!
Cybersecurity is a collective responsibility that extends far beyond the IT department. Business leaders must prioritize data security and foster a culture of awareness and vigilance throughout the organization.
By implementing the cybersecurity practices outlined above, CEOs and department leaders can take proactive steps to protect their business from cyber threats. Remember, safeguarding your enterprise is not just a best practice; it is a critical component of maintaining trust with customers, partners, and stakeholders in today's digital landscape.
Not sure where to start? The OSF Digital Strategy team can help. Ask us about our Salesforce Cloud Security Assessment offering! You can reach us here.
With over 25 years in IT, security, and digital transformation, Cy a results-driven leader specializing in strategic solutions for clients. Formerly CIO, CISO, CPO, and SVP at Ralph Lauren, Cy spearheaded global brand transformation, enhancing security and customer engagement. With retail leadership roles at Books A Million and Booksamillion.com, plus advisory positions, including co-founding Zoom's CISO Council, Cy is dedicated to leveraging tech and security for value and growth.