Precautions for Better Cyber Security

Many business operations revolve around the functionality of computers, network connections and the Internet. It’s no secret that with computer use there are many risks, including damaging viruses, hackers, use of your system to attack others or use of sensitive data to steal identities or other illegal actions. As a result, companies must respond by preventing, detecting and responding to cyber attacks through a well-orchestrated cyber security program.

Get Familiar with Risks

The first step in protecting your business is to take notice of the multitude of cyber risks.

Hackers, Attackers and Intruders

These people seek to exploit weaknesses in software and computer systems for their personal gain. Although their intentions are sometimes benign, their actions are typically in violation of the intended use of the systems that they are exploiting. The results of this cyber risk can range from minimal mischief (creating a virus with no negative impact) to malicious activity (stealing or altering data).

Malicious Code (viruses, worms and Trojan horses)

  • Viruses: This malicious code requires a user to take action to let into the system, such as open an email attachment, download a file or visit a webpage.
  • Worms: Once released, this code reproduces and spreads through systems on its own. They usually start by exploiting a software flaw. Then, once the victim’s computer is infected, the worm will attempt to find and infect other computers through a network.
  • Trojan horses: This disguised code claims to do one thing while actually doing something else (a program that claims to speed up your computer system but is actually sending confidential information to a remote intruder).

Risk Management Planning

To reduce your cyber risks, it is wise to develop an IT Risk Management Plan at your organization. Risk management solutions utilize industry standards and best practices to assess hazards from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification or destruction of your organization’s information systems. Consider the following when implementing risk management strategies at your organization:

  • Create a formal, documented risk management plan that addresses the scope, roles, responsibilities, compliance criteria and methodology for performing cyber risk assessments. This plan should include a characterization of all systems used at the organization based on their function, the data stored and processed, and importance to the organization.
  • Review the cyber risk plan on an annual basis and update it whenever there are significant changes to your information systems, the facilities where systems are stored or other conditions that may affect the impact of risk to the organization.

In addition, your organization should take precautionary measures when selecting your Internet service provider (ISP) for use for company business.

ISP Considerations

Almost all ISPs offer Web browsing capabilities with a varying degree of user support and Web hosting capabilities. Your company should determine what ISP to use, along with a plan for backing up emails and files and what firewalls to implement.

To select an ISP that will reduce your cyber risks, consider the following:

  • Security – How concerned with security is the ISP provider? Does it use encryption and SSL to protect any information that you submit?
  • Privacy – Does the ISP have a published privacy policy? Are you comfortable with who has access to your information, and how it is handled and used?
  • Services – Does your ISP offer the services that you want and does it meet your organization’s needs? Is there adequate support for the services provided?
  • Cost – Are the ISP’s costs affordable and are they reasonable for the number of services that you receive? Are you sacrificing quality and security to get a lower price?
  • Reliability – Are the services provided by the ISP reliable, or are they frequently unavailable due to maintenance, security problems and a high volume of users? If the ISP knows that its services will be unavailable, does it adequately communicate that information to its customers?
  • User Supports – Are there any published methods for contacting customer service, and do you receive prompt and friendly service? Does its hours of availability accommodate your company’s needs?
  • Speed – How fast is your ISP’s connection, and is it sufficient for accessing your email or navigating the Web?
  • Recommendations – What have you heard from industry peers about the ISP? Were they trusted sources? Does the ISP serve your geographic area?

Cyber security is a serious concern for your business. Contact your insurance broker to learn about our risk management resources and insurance solutions for emerging technology exposures.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved

Basic Cyber Loss Control Techniques

Protecting your business from cyber risks can be an overwhelming venture. With each passing month, new and more sophisticated viruses are being discovered, more spam is reaching your inbox and yet another well-known company becomes the victim of a data breach.

The world will never be free of cyber risks, but there are many loss control techniques you can implement to help protect your business from exposures.

Install a firewall for your network.

Operating systems often come with pre-installed firewalls, but they are generally designed to protect just one computer. Examine the firewall’s options and select the best configuration to keep the computer safe.

If your business has a network of five or more computers, consider buying a network firewall. They can be pricey but network firewalls provide a fine level of coverage for an entire network.

Install anti-virus, anti-malware and anti-spyware software.

This loss control technique is the easiest and most effective way to increase security at your business. Make sure to install the software on each computer in your network—computers that don’t include these types of software are much more likely to be exposed and can possibly spread malware to other computers in the network. There are a host of viable options for each type of software, ranging in price from free to an annual subscription. Be sure to keep the software as up-to-date as possible.

Encrypt data.

No firewall is perfect. If a hacker manages to get through your firewall and into your network, your data could be a sitting duck. Encryption will make the data unreadable to a hacker. Consider using an encryption program to keep computer drives, files and even email messages safe from hackers.

Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

A VPN allows employees to connect to your company’s network remotely. VPNs eliminate the need for a remote-access server, saving companies lots of money in remote server costs. In addition to these savings, VPNs also provide a high level of security by using advanced encryption and authentication protocols that protect sensitive data from unauthorized access. If your company has salespeople in the field or employs workers who work from home or away from the office, a VPN is an effective way to minimize cyber risks.

Implement an employee password policy.

One of the most overlooked ways to keep your business safe is instituting a password policy. Essentially, a password policy should force employees to change work-related passwords every 90 days. The policy should encourage the creation of easy-to-remember, hard-to-guess passwords that include letters, numbers and special characters. For example, an easy-to-remember, hard-to-guess password could be “M1dwbo1025.” (My first daughter was born on Oct. 25th.)

Passwords that contain words from the dictionary or contain sensible combinations (abc123, qwerty, etc.) should never be allowed. Let employees know that they should not write passwords down and leave them in a desk or out in the open. If they are having trouble remembering passwords, there are password-keeping programs available for download.

Back up data regularly.

Important data should be backed up daily and in multiple locations, one being off-site. In addition to being safe from cyber risks, off-site data would not be exposed from physical attacks, like a fire or tornado.

Restrict access to backed up data. The public should never have access to it. If the data is tangible, keep it in locked filing cabinets in a locked room, and only issue keys to those who absolutely need them.

Develop a business continuity plan.

If the worst should happen and your company suffers a data breach or similar attack, you should have a business continuity plan in place. A business continuity plan helps:

  • Facilitate timely recovery of core business functions
  • Protect the well-being of employees, their families and your customers
  • Minimize loss of revenue/customers
  • Maintain public image and reputation
  • Minimize loss of data
  • Minimize the critical decisions to be made in a time of crisis

The plan should identify potential cyber risks, along with the recovery team at your company assigned to protect personnel and property in the event of an attack. The recovery team should conduct a damage assessment of the attack and guide the company toward resuming operations.

Contact Your Loss Control Expert

Keeping your data safe from cyber risks requires constant attention to ensure an attack never happens. Your insurance broker can help you identify potential risks and keep your business running smoothly in the event of an attack.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved