Earlier this week, the trading app Robinhood announced a data breach in which a mixture of email addresses and full names of 7 million of their users were stolen. It is still unclear what impact this may have for Robinhood’s entire userbase. However, at the very least, this breach could provide attackers with enough information to carry out phishing and other social engineering attacks against those whose data was stolen. While on the face of it, this may appear to be your standard data breach, a closer look reveals how human factors lead to the breach.
While we don’t have all the details yet, according to Robinhood’s statement, the attack was carried out after someone called the company’s customer support line and tricked an employee into handing over access to “certain customer support systems.” From there, the attack was likely able to access customer information or gain additional access to other parts of Robinhood’s network. This form of attack is commonly known as a “vishing” attack, in which the attacker impersonates someone over the phone rather than through a traditional phishing email.
This form of attack is not uncommon and highlights a number of key questions that business leads need to consider when it comes to digital risk. First, it’s important to take a broad view of all the different avenues attackers could use to gain access to your systems. While your customer support channels may not come first to mind, any outward-facing platforms can pose a risk. Second, business leaders and their employees need to start thinking about how their own digital behaviors can be leveraged against you. Traditional security awareness programs do a good job at explaining issues and in some cases testing for the presence of negative digital behaviors. But, to start to see real change, security awareness training needs to focus on designing for the positive, more secure behaviors that are strong enough to override the bad online habits we develop.
Any way you cut it, the Robinhood data breach is yet another example that highlights the vital importance of taking a human-factored approach to cybersecurity. Business leaders need to actively invest in not just security tools, but also in training and controls that help employees understand human factors threats and what they need to do to ensure they don’t fall for social engineering scams.
In many cases, our employees are our first line of defense against cyber-attack. However, for employees to start developing habits that are in line with cybersecurity practices, it’s essential business leaders need to understand effective strategies for getting these habits to stick. One of the main tenants of behavioral science is that the new habit you want to see needs to be easy to accomplish.
Ideally, you and your IT team can put in place effective cybersecurity controls that make developing secure habits easier for your employees. But what happens when these security features make it more difficult for users to perform the positive and secure behaviors you want to see?
This is the topic of new research on cybersecurity risk management and behavior design. In “Refining the Blunt Instruments of Cybersecurity: A Framework to Coordinate Prevention and Preservation of Behaviors,” researchers Simon Parkin and Yi Ting Chua highlight the importance of making sure that cybersecurity controls that limit malicious or negative behaviors don’t also restrict the positive behaviors your employees are trying to accomplish. For example, it’s common practice for companies to require their employees to change their passwords every few months. However, not only does this put the burden on employees for keeping their accounts secure, research has shown that users who are required to create new passwords frequently tend to use less and less secure passwords over time. While you may think having employees change their passwords will help keep your network more secure, doing so might actually have the opposite effect.
To ensure security controls aren’t restricting users from engaging in positive behaviors, Parkin and Chua emphasize the need to more precisely target malicious behaviors. To do so, they outline three steps business leaders and IT teams should take to more precisely define their cybersecurity controls.
1. Create a system to identify positive behaviors
To ensure you are preserving the positive behaviors your employees are doing, you first have to figure out how to track those behaviors. Unfortunately, it can be a lot easier to identify behaviors you don’t want to see, than those you do want to see. An employee clicking a malicious link in an email address, for example, can be identified. But, how do you identify when an employee doesn’t click the link in a phishing email? One solution is to give users access to a phish reporting button direct within their email client.
Whatever you decide, it’s essential to both identify the positive behaviors you want to see and create a system to track when those behaviors are used by employees.
2. Find linkages between negative and positive behaviors
Now that you can track both positive and negative behaviors, the next step is to look at your security controls and identify possible linkages between the negative behavior the control is defined to restrict and positive behaviors you want employees to engage in. If a control affects both positive and negative behaviors, there is a linkage the control is creating — a linkage you want to break.
3. Better define controls to prevent negative behaviors and promote positive behaviors.
Once you’ve identified linkages between positive and negative behaviors, the next step is to find ways to ensure your controls are only affecting the negative behaviors. For example, instead of requiring users to create new passwords every few months, system monitoring tools can be used to detect suspicious activity and block access to a user’s account without the user having to do anything.
At the end of the day, if the habits you want your employees to form aren’t easy to accomplish, it’s not going to happen. And it’s definitely not going to happen if your security controls are actively making things harder for your employees. It’s essential for you and your IT team to take the time to review your current controls and actively identify ways to maintain your security without affecting your employee’s ability to form secure habits at work.
Spotting phish is not always easy. Sure, there are some phish you get that are easy to spot, but over the years scammers have worked hard to create more convincing emails. By more convincingly spoofing common emails we see every day in our inbox and by leveraging cognitive biases we all have, more sophisticated phishing emails can be pretty difficult to catch. In a recently published research paper, Rick Walsh, professor of Media and Information at Michigan State University, takes a closer look at how IT experts spot the phish they get and highlights the ways even the experts can fall prey to sophisticated phishing campaigns.
How Experts Spot Phish
Interviewing 21 IT experts, Walsh found 3 common steps they use to spot phish that come into their inbox.
Step 1: Sense Making
First, experts simply try to understand why they are receiving this email and how it relates to other things in their life. They look for things that seem to be off about the email, noting discrepancies like typos or things they know to be untrue. They also try to understand what the email is trying to get them to do. If they see a lot of discrepancies and are being urged to take quick action, they move on to the next step.
Step 2: Suspicion
In this step, the experts move away from trying to make sense of the email and starting asking themselves if this email is legitimate or not. To determine this, they start looking for evidence, like hovering over the link to see where it directs them and checking the sender’s name and address. After collecting evidence, they move to the final step.
Step 3: Decision
By this step, the experts have concluded whether or not the email is legit or not. If they believe it’s a phish, they now take some form of action. In some cases, they simply deleted the email, others however took proactive steps like reporting the phish or alerting other employees of the potential scam.
Even The Experts Can Fail
After discussing the ways experts typically spot phish, Walsh highlights a number of ways even the experts could mess up when spotting phish. Here are 3 of the most important failures Walsh highlights.
1. Automation Failure
Automation failure happens when we’re not engaging in enough sense making. We all get a lot of emails every day, so sometimes we go into auto-pilot as we go through our inbox. However, this means we’re not engaging in enough sensemaking. It’s therefore essential to take a moment to pause before opening our email and make sure we are in acting with awareness.
2. Accumulation Failure
Accumulation failure refers to the process of identifying discrepancies in emails but only looking at them one by one instead of as a whole. It can be easy to find any number of explanations for a discrepancy we see, so if you’re only thinking about each of these discrepancies in isolation, you may not become suspicious. However, if you start to add up all the issues your seeing in the email, it becomes a lot easier to tell when you need to be suspicious of what you’re seeing.
3. Evidence Failure
Lastly, evidence failure means when you make the wrong judgment on the evidence you see in an email. If, for example, you hover over the link in the email and it shows you a spoofed link that looks similar to a common website you use, you may not realize the link is bad.
What’s important about this research is, when it comes to social engineering, even the experts can get tripped up. It’s therefore vital that security awareness training goes beyond simply teaching you what to look for in an email. Awareness training should also teach you how to spot who an email plays on your own cognitive bias and the ways we sometimes fail to take account of important information when we look at our inbox.
The debate over whether or not to pay the ransomware demand has gone on for a while now. The FBI has long urged businesses to refuse all demands for a ransom payment. And while most businesses aren’t exactly excited to shell out a ton of money to criminals, if their backups are corrupted or they are facing extended downtime, paying the ransom may start to feel like the only option. Adding to the debate, last week the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) released updated ransomware guidelines, reinforcing the FBI’s stance and possibly opening the door to imposing fines on organizations that pay up.
In the updated guidelines, the OFAC states that the U.S. government “strongly discourages businesses from paying ransom demands, arguing these payments may help fund future attacks against the U.S. The OFAC also makes the point that paying the ransom in no way guarantees you will ever see your data again or that the attackers didn’t make a copy of your sensitive information to use against you later.
However, the OFAC is doing more than strongly discouraging payments, they may also start imposing civil fines on those who do pay. “U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions, directly or indirectly, with individuals or entities (“persons”) on OFAC’s Specially
Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SND list).” And just last month the OFAC added SUEX, a cryptocurrency exchange service, to that list. According to OFAC, over 40% of transactions on SUEX are more illegal purposes, include ransomware payments.
These new guidelines, therefore, give the U.S. government to fine businesses who decide to pay the ransom. However, Treasury Department is careful to clarify that other, preventative measures businesses take against ransomware may save businesses from dealing with public civil fines. Such mitigating measures include maintaining offline backups of data, developing incident response plans, instituting cybersecurity training, regularly updating antivirus and anti-malware software, and employing authentication protocols, among others.
Incident response plans are essential for mitigating the effect of any form of cyber attack. A good plan involves not only having a detailed roadmap for how to respond to various cyber attacks but also includes bringing in a team of employees how are responsible for carrying out different parts of the plan, running test scenarios with that team, then making any necessary adjustments from what didn’t work during the tests. When it comes to incident response, a quick, competent, and efficient response is essential to mitigating risk and limiting damage.
Backups are also critical for dealing with a ransomware attack, potentially allowing you to get your data back without ever having to deal with the attackers. And because these backups are so important, it’s essential to be smart about how you do it. First, use the 3-2-1 approach to backups. You want to have 3 backups on hand so you have multiple options in case one gets corrupted. 2 backups should be kept on-site for easy access, but 1 should be stored off-site and offline, to ensure the attackers can’t get a hold of that too. And because ransomware attackers often steal administrative credentials, you should use separate passwords for your backups.
Summer is barely over, but given the myriad of highly publicized ransomware attacks that have taken place this year alone, it’s probably pretty likely business leaders everywhere are desperately trying to ensure that no ransomware attackers can get into their systems. And while it’s great that more organizations are starting to take cybersecurity more seriously, if you are placing all your emphasis on defending against outside threats you’re ignoring the very important question: what happens if attackers do make it inside? Then what? You may think that if hackers make it into your system it’s already too late, but that is far from the truth. Between gaining access and executing the ransomware, there is a middle phase to the attack in which attackers move around networks, gain access to administrative credentials, and locate the data they are going to encrypt and/or steal. Attackers can spend months moving throughout a network before actually launching the attack. Defending the middle is therefore essential to protect against suffering a ransomware attack.
In fact, according to a recent report by Coveware, it may be a lot more important to focus on defending the middle than just trying to keep the bad guys out. After analyzing data from multiple ransomware attacks, Coveware discovered that while attackers use a variety of means to gain access to a victim’s system, what the hackers do once they are inside is always the same. “As our data shows, 100% of the cases where we were able to collect triage observations found privilege escalation and lateral movement tactics employed.” And the tactics used in the middle phases are actually pretty limited. Once inside, if only one of the attacker’s tactics fails, it becomes a lot more difficult to pull off the attack. According to Coveware, “inhibiting a threat actor from escalating privilege or moving laterally is equally if not more important than preventing initial [entry].”
Because the tactics used to move around a victim’s network are pretty limited, that also means just a few protective measures could be the thing that stops the hackers from launching their ransomware. Here are 3 things businesses can do right now to defend the middle:
Multi-Factor Authentication For Domain Controller
A system’s domain controller is the part of your network that allows or denies access requests to your network. It’s essentially the seat of your access controls. That means if hackers gain access to your domain controller they can give themselves access to pretty much anything they want. To prevent this, it’s essential to set up multi-factor authentication for your domain controller. What’s more, it’s vital to use a mobile authentication code-based MFA rather than on hard MFA tokens. According to Coveware, “100% of ransomware attack victims LACK true multi-factor authentication for the domain administrator accounts.” So setting up MFA for your domain controller could be the thing that saves you from a ransomware attack.
Disable the Command Line
The command line is a back-end tool that allows IT administrators to build scripts that run automatically and perform complex tasks on a system’s network. It’s also an essential part of how ransomware attackers make changes to your system and move around your network. Coveware found that ransomware hackers rely heavily on the use of command lines to automate various parts of the ransomware attack. Disabling command line and scripting capabilities means hackers can’t rely on automatic processes to carry out their attack, making their efforts that much more time-consuming and costly.
Imagine taking everything you have and putting it in a single locked room. If someone breaks in, everything you have is now gone. That’s exactly like what having an unsegmented network is like. In order to make things harder for the bad guys and keep your data as safe as possible, it’s essential to separate different parts of your network from each other. That way, even if an attacker gains access to one part of your network, they aren’t able to get anywhere else.
In the past few years, new approaches to cybersecurity such as defense-in-depth and cyber resilience are becoming increasingly popular among cyber experts. In essence, both of these approaches argue that just protecting your systems from the outside is not enough. It’s vital to not just hope no one breaches your defenses, but that you have protections and plans in place for when someone does make it inside. Defending the middle is one strategy for taking on a defense-in-depth approach to cybersecurity, and it could be the thing that stands between you and a full-blown ransomware attack.
While cyber attacks such as ransomware have steadily increased in frequency over the past few years, more recent, widely publicized attacks like the Colonial Pipeline attack have finally caused government agencies to sit up and start taking action. The White House’s unprecedented executive order, for example, aims to help modernize the federal government’s cybersecurity practices, and the FBI recently requested an additional $40 million for cybersecurity defenses. While these important steps are aimed at strengthening the government’s response to cyber threats, other government agencies are now starting to issue updated guidelines for regulated industries. Much of these new guidelines cover a lot of the basics of cybersecurity practices, like creating a cybersecurity policy and encrypting sensitive data. However, what becomes clear is that for regulated industries to fully adopt these guidelines there must be a focus on managing and mitigate the human risks involved in cybersecurity.
Of the various government agencies issuing new cybersecurity guidelines, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration guidelines is notable for being the first time the department has issued any sort of cybersecurity guidance. The guidelines are aimed at entities covered under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, including “benefit plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, record keepers and plan participants” and are designed to protect the estimated $9.3 trillion in assets the department oversees. Included in the guidelines are practices widely considered essential for defending against cyber threats, including a formal cybersecurity policy, annual risk assessments, and conducting security reviews of 3rd party vendors.
Many of the guidelines issued by the Department of Labor are aligned with the New York Department of Financial Service’s 2017 cybersecurity regulation, which itself is starting to ramp up its own guidelines. In June, the NYDFS released updated FAQ’s that offer further guidance on complying with the state regulation while also releasing new ransomware guidelines. The updated FAQ shows the department is not messing around. While the NYDFS outline which covered entities can file for an exemption, they also emphasize that even exempt entities must comply with certain aspects of the regulation, such as maintaining a cybersecurity policy, conducting risk assessments, and notifying the department of any cybersecurity events. In their ransomware guidance, the department cites the importance of practices such as cyber awareness training, MFA and password management, and strong access privilege restrictions — all of which are already required under the department’s regulation.
While many of the cybersecurity guidelines government agencies are now offering cover some of the basic cybersecurity practices, implementing and maintaining these guidelines can be pretty daunting for a business to try to put in place. What becomes clear is that even the technical aspects of cybersecurity involve managing and mitigating human risks. For example, the NYDFS urges covered entities to implement a patch management program, which requires leadership ensuring their IT team regularly apply patches to the organization’s software and systems. If their IT fails to do this, they could be slapped with millions in fines. It’s therefore essential businesses focus not only on staying compliant, but also ensuring their teams are developing habits that align with their cybersecurity needs. Managing these human risks first and foremost involve three factors: keeping tasks simple, using prompts for employees, and providing positive feedback. In combination, these three factors will help to ensure employees can develop and sustain these habits that, ultimately, can make or break an organization’s cybersecurity posture.
Tools such as endpoint detection, anti-malware software, and firewalls play a vital role in protecting from the diversity of cyber threats businesses face today. However, for those tools to work, they need to be properly installed, configured, and updated by people. When considering the human factors of cybersecurity, we often think of social engineering scams. But equally as important is managing human errors. In fact, this form of human risk was exactly what led to the massive Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack earlier this year.
Human risk involves not just what we do, but also what we don’t do. This was the case with the colonial pipeline attack. In June, the CEO of Colonial Pipeline, Joseph Blount, told a Senate Committee that the attack was caused by unauthorized accessed to a virtual private network (VPN) the company had once used and that did not have multi-factor authentication (MFA). MFA is a tool that requires users to verify their login through a second means, such as a text message or email that contains a unique code. Because this VPN did not use MFA, that extra layer of security was missing and the hackers got in unnoticed. The real kicker, however, is that Colonial Pipeline was already using a new VPN with more security features. However, the legacy VPN was still installed on Colonial Pipeline’s systems. According to Blount, the VPN the hackers accessed “was not intended to be in use.” The ransomware attack was therefore a result of someone within Colonial Pipeline neglecting to take the old VPN off of the company’s servers.
Risk, no matter the form, is the result of habits and behaviors. In order to address these issues, we need to create healthy, sustainable habits that limit human risks. They say old habits die hard but creating sustained change is possible if these three elements come together:
1. Keep it simple
When trying to create new behaviors for your employees, it’s vital to break things down into small pieces. Asking questions like “What behaviors do I want to do that will mitigate risk” is a good place to start, but once you have a list, choose one behavior and focus on that. The reason is that people are more likely to do something consistently if it’s simple and easy to do. By focusing on one behavior at a time, your staff is far more likely to follow through than if you give them a whole list of changes you want them to make.
2. Use a prompt
The next part of the equation is creating a prompt that alerts your employee to do the behavior you are designing for. This prompt can take any number of forms, like a scheduled email, a slack notification, or a checklist. When we have a habit, we aren’t actively thinking about having to do it, so when you want to create a new habit prompts will break that automatic thinking and make room for them to incorporate the new behavior you want to see.
3. Provide positive feedback
Lastly, once the new behavior is accomplished, it’s important to follow up with some sort of positive feedback. This helps reinforce the importance of the behavior by helping your staff associate this new habit with a positive feeling, making it more likely they will follow through again in the future.
Using Colonial Pipeline as an example, applying these behavioral principles for their IT could have helped prevent the hackers from gaining access. First, someone in the leadership could have communicated to one member of IT and asked them to take an inventory of applications installed once a month and remove anything that is out of date or no longer in use. Then, a prompt such as a scheduled email could have been created to send to the employee on the first of every month. Finally, the employee could be sent a message thanking them for taking an inventory — they could even create a point or star system that helps employees tally the completed behaviors that Colonial was designing for.
Mitigating human risk is a central aspect of a business’s overall cybersecurity posture. And the key is to create new, healthy behaviors by putting in place a system that helps your employees form new habits in a way that’s simple and leaves them feeling successful.
The shifting cyber risk landscape over the past eighteen months – especially the explosion of ransomware attacks — has put a spotlight on what businesses and governments are doing about cybersecurity risk and what role does or could cyber insurance play – not only as a risk transfer vehicle, but as an enabler of improved risk management practices. As of early 2021 the total global premiums for cyber insurance have reach over $5 billion, but the truth is cyber insurance is still a very new industry, and the role it can play in mitigating cyber risk is has been an open question for a few years.
However, according to a new report by the UK-based security research institute RUSI, the role of cyber insurance as a risk mitigation tool is still pretty limited. One big challenge is that both issuers and insureds too often view cyber insurance as a replacement for actual cybersecurity policies and procedures. Cyber insurance doesn’t mean that you won’t get hacked just like having fire insurance doesn’t mean your house won’t ever burn down. This challenge has most recently been playing out with questions surrounding ransomware payments. Today, many cyber insurance policies include payments for ransom demands. However, this raises the concern that such practices are actually fueling the recent spike in ransomware attacks. In fact, some evidence suggests ransomware attackers are specifically targeting companies with cyber insurance and tailor their demands to the high-end of what those policies will cover.
That said, cyber insurance still has a role to play — but it doesn’t replace the other value chains within the broader risk mitigation process . Like with most insurance, it’s not designed to prevent or eliminate risk, but rather to transfer risk as a last line of defense. In the RUSI report, many of the experts interviewed cite post-incident services as one of the main benefits of having cyber insurance. From incident response to forensic analysis, cyber insurance can be extremely useful for maintaining business continuity following a cyber incident. This is even more important for small businesses who might not have internal teams and the expertise to carry out a post-incident response swiftly and effectively. However, there is a lot more to cyber security than how you respond to an incident. As RUSI’s report points out, right now cyber insurance is most effective as a tool for cyber resilience, but not risk mitigation.
What is important to understand is the need to properly place cyber insurance within your larger risk governance strategy. Cyber risk management is like putting together a puzzle with various shapes and sizes. From performing informed risk assessments, to maintaining strong systems controls, to creating a culture that values cybersecurity, there is a lot of factors that need to be pieced together in a way that aligns with your business context, strategy, and goals. Effective risk management includes a value change of activities and partners, including insurance, but relying on insurance along is not enough.
By now, you’ve almost certainly heard about ransomware — a form of cyber-attack in which hackers encrypt systems, steal data then demand a ransom payment to end the attack. While ransomware has been around for a while now, attackers have started setting their sights on bigger and bigger targets, gaining international media attention in the process.
But the reason businesses should be paying attention to ransomware is not because big corporations are shelling out millions of dollars in ransom payments. Instead, when you look at the bigger picture, small businesses are the ones who will continue to bear the brunt of these attacks. According to the Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, there has been a 300% increase in ransomware attacks in the past year and 50-70% of those attacks were directed against small and medium sized businesses. And while a cyberattack is tough for any businesses to recover from, the threat ransomware poses to small businesses is existential, with 60% of small businesses failing within 6 months of a cyber-attack.
Because the threat is so big and the stakes are so high, governing ransomware risk needs to be a top priority for small businesses. And in order to protect your organization, there are two vital areas that need to be focused on: systems controls and organizational culture.
1. Endpoint detection and response
Endpoint detection and response (EDR) is a type of security software that actively monitors endpoints like phones, laptops and other devices in order to identify any activity that could be malicious or threatening. Once a potential threat is identified, EDR will automatically respond by getting rid of or containing the threat and notifying your security or IT team. EDR is vital today in order to stay on top of potential threats and put a stop to them before they can cause any damage.
2. Hardening your RDP Ports
Remote Desktop protocol is a tool that allows someone to connect to a computer remotely. This can be useful, but more and more ransomware attackers are using RDP ports to gain access to victims’ systems. Organization that do not actively use RDP should therefore consider disabling the feature or limiting to users and devices that are not connected to public internet.
Having a back-up of your systems could allow you to regain access to your data without having to pay the ransom. However, it’s essential to have an effective back up strategy in order to ensure the attackers don’t steal your backups along with everything else. At minimum, at least one backup should be stored offsite. You should also utilize different credentials for each copy of your back-up. Finally, you should regularly test your back-ups to ensure you will be able to quickly and effectively get your systems online if an attack happens.
Lastly, using multi-factor authentication (MFA) is a simple yet powerful tool for stopping the bad guys from using stolen credentials. At minimum, any user accessing your network should be using MFA. In addition, all users with administrative privileges need to use MFA, whether they are accessing your network remotely or on premise.
Don’t Forget Culture
When it comes to governing ransomware risk, the best way to prevent attacks is to focus on creating a culture that incorporates cyber-secure behaviors into every day practices. However, the biggest issue many organizations face when creating a cybersecure culture is sustaining those behaviors overtime. In order to properly govern ransomware risk, behavior change requires 4 essential elements:
1. Consistent Communication
We get it, cybersecurity can be confusing. And as the threat landscape changes, so do our cybersecurity policies. That’s why it’s so important that business leadership consistently communicate with their employees about the behaviors you want to see.
2. Make it Easy
When thinking about the behaviors you want employees to adopt, it’s vital you make these behaviors as easy as possible to do. Everyone is being pulled in a million different directions at once, so if an employee has to take 10 minutes out of their day to figure out how to report a phish, they aren’t going to follow through. If, however, you provide a simple and easy-to-use process, you’re going to have a much easier time getting employees to adopt new behaviors.
3. Help People feel Successful
People want to feel like the work they are doing is making a difference. If they feel like what they are doing just doesn’t really matter all that much, there isn’t going to be much motivation to continue doing it. That’s why it’s so important to help people feel successful when they follow through on the behaviors you want to see. Providing positive feedback, for example, can go a long way towards creating behavior change. If your employees know their work is being recognized and feel it makes a difference, they will be much more likely to keep it up.
4.Walking the Walk
The above three elements for creating sustained behavior change have one thing in common: you. A leadership team can’t simply talk the talk. Change starts at the top and requires you and your leadership team take an active role ensuring these behaviors become a part of the organizational culture and value structure.
There’s no doubt that ransomware poses a big threat to small businesses, and the best thing you can do govern the risks of attack is focusing on creating a culture in which cybersecurity is valued and acted upon every single day.
Many of us check to see if our doors are locked before we go to bed. We might be pretty sure it’s already locked, but we know it’s worth double checking just in case. It’s common sense. That’s why it’s so surprising to see, according to a recent UK report, that only a third of businesses check their own cyber security locks by conducting a cyber risk assessment.
Throughout the report, there is a stark contrast between the amount of breaches companies are experiencing and the measures they are taking to prevent these breaches from happening. For example, the report found that nearly 40% of business surveyed reported at least one attack or breach within the past 12 months. What’s more, for many of these businesses, a breach is not a one and done experience. Half of the organizations that were attacked said they’ve experienced an attack once a month and a quarter of these businesses report attacks on a weekly basis.
If your home was being broken into on a weekly basis, you’d probably start double checking those locks. Yet, according to the report, businesses are not taking the necessary steps to protect themselves. In addition to the lack of cyber risk assessments, only 33% of businesses have a formal cyber security policy. And while phishing scams accounts for 83% of the attacks businesses reported, only 14% of businesses have conducted any sort of cyber awareness training within the past year.
In a blog post on the report, Phillip Virgo makes the important point that cybersecurity measures need to be considered within the context specific to a business’ size and industry. And he’s right, there is no one size fits all approach to cybersecurity. In order for any sort of protections to be useful, it’s vital those measures are not only suited to an organization’s size and industry, but also aligns with their specific business strategy.
At the same time, however, this doesn’t mean there aren’t steps every business should be taking to protect themselves and a risk assessment is a good way to start. Anything less isn’t just leaving your door unlocked, it’s leaving the door wide open with a welcome mat out front.