The end of the year is a perfect time for reflection on the past while planning for the future. In business, this often means strategizing for the upcoming year—everything from budgeting and hiring plans to marketing tactics and more. This year we want to make sure your “more” includes taking a close look at your small business security posture. What’s the best way to do that, you might ask? Gear up for a cybersecurity risk assessment!
Read on for more information on this valuable step to help you understand your company’s strengths, vulnerabilities, and opportunities to bolster cybersecurity defenses.
Check out how a group of aspiring cybersecurity students prepare to assess their high school’s security landscape in Episode 5 of The Hilt, the Defendify podcast. Defendify Co-Founder Rob Simopoulos speaks with students and the instructor of a first-in-kind program educating the next generation of cyber-superheroes.
Why does your organization need a cybersecurity risk assessment?
The first step in improving your cybersecurity is simply understanding it. All small businesses can be targeted by cyberattackers; protecting your company’s sensitive data, minimizing the risk of phishing, malware, and other cyberattacks, and upholding industry or vendor standards is of critical importance.
A cybersecurity assessment evaluates the elements of your business that impact your cybersecurity posture to help you get a better idea of how vulnerable your organization is to hackers and criminals. A cybersecurity assessment can help answer questions like:
- How protected is our sensitive data?
- Have we built an organizational culture of cybersecurity?
- Do our company policies and procedures help protect the business?
- Where are our weakest links?
- Are we missing any obvious technology solutions that should be in place?
While an assessment alone won’t prevent a cyberattack from happening, it will help you know where to start making infosec improvements. Similar to your health, once you know where you stand, you’ll be in a much better position to strengthen your small business security posture.
What does an assessment entail?
A cybersecurity risk assessment isn’t merely a technology audit, but a holistic examination of all the protections that you have (or haven’t) implemented to help prevent a cybersecurity incident. Key categories include:
- Network security and system health, testing, and scanning
- Employee security awareness training and company culture
- Data classification and protection
- Physical facility security
- Company policies and procedures
Given that cybersecurity is about more than just technology, it’s important to examine each layer of security in terms of your posture (and improving it). A comprehensive picture of your security landscape will not only help you protect yourself, but can also help you plan for future growth, meet the needs of others you may be working with (or desire to), and understand and prepare for evolving threats.
How do you get started?
Assessing your cybersecurity can seem almost as daunting as installing your holiday lights on an icy roof, but the process isn’t as treacherous as it may seem. Publications such as the NIST Cybersecurity Framework can help small business navigate the cybersecurity landscape and know what questions to ask. Additionally, using a simplified assessment tool can further streamline parts of the process with a series of digestible questions that generate a customized report.
As we head into another year of evolving threats and changing technology, it’s important to prioritize and budget for a thorough examination of your cybersecurity posture—the first step in better protecting your data, your company, your partners, and your customers. A driving commitment to cyber-safety is a worthy New Year’s resolution for any business.
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