A beginner’s guide to cybersecurity for businesses

Over the past several years, cyber threats have been at an all-time high. The increase in sophisticated and pernicious cyberattacks continues to rise worldwide. And there seem to be no signs of slowing.

For businesses especially, there’s a lot at stake. Increasingly sophisticated and intelligent attacks in their multitude of forms can disrupt business as usual, hold organisations to ransom and bring large corporations to their knees. With the digital landscape becoming more complex, remote working adding a new facet to the way businesses operate and the onslaught of cyber threats continuing to increase, many businesses have a hard time knowing how to improve their cybersecurity posture — or even where to start.

In this article, we cover the foundations that lay the groundwork for complete cybersecurity. Our guide will detail how businesses both large and small can begin to enhance their cybersecurity posture today and each component mitigates their risk of devastating security breaches and malicious attacks.

The five C’s of cybersecurity.

The five C’s of cybersecurity pertain to five important, overarching areas that all organisations need to consider if they want to achieve complete cybersecurity. They help in the consideration and understanding of prioritising and setting up cybersecurity and enhancing your overall cybersecurity posture. These are: change, compliance, cost, continuity and coverage.

1. Change.

The world, especially in the context of technology, is becoming ever more complex. Change is a part of life and, when it comes down to systems, software and cybersecurity as part of modernity’s digital life, organisations should expect nothing less than continuous and rapid change. A business’s ability to respond and adapt to technological advances and changes in the digital environment proves its competitiveness. And in the context of cybersecurity, this is as true as true can be.

2. Compliance.

One of the main goals of the modern enterprise is governance, risk management and compliance with policies and regulations. These need to be adapted to and fit with the particulars of a business. Creating governance guidelines, setting up proper risk management and crafting compliance policies and regulations is easier when a business and its employees understand the possible consequences of sufficient cybersecurity. Compliance failure, for example, can result in data breaches, financial loss and even injury to employees and customers.

3. Cost.

Costs are always part of the bottom line. The staff training, hardware and software and support necessary for complete cybersecurity are all investments that eat into any business’s budget. While there are foundational pillars of cybersecurity that all organisations need to consider, your business’s unique requirements and access to resources mean that cost will be a significant, individual factor that you need to consider carefully.

4. Continuity.

Setting up regular data backups and disaster recovery, which are components of continuous cybersecurity, for example, is a costly endeavour. While there are no guarantees in this game, these two areas of cybersecurity are paramount to a complete package that need to run continuously. Businesses must consider the maintenance costs, including power, updates and upgrades of these cybersecurity facets.

5. Coverage.

Organisations are always looking to expand. A business that expands needs more coverage. In terms of cybersecurity, more expansion means more need for security and protection coverage. As your business grows you’ll need to consider the implications and costs of increasing your cybersecurity over a growing enterprise.

Determine your current vulnerabilities.

The first step to improving your business’s cybersecurity posture is to determine your current vulnerabilities. Getting a grip on any flaws, loops or gaps in your current security is vital to understanding what needs to be worked on. Knowing your weaknesses is crucial to being able to fix broken backdoors that could let bad actors in and building a strong fort that enhances your overall cybersecurity posture.

Begin by identifying the most important data and information that your business holds. This will likely include customer data, transaction records, intellectual property and more. Know where your data is stored, and know if where it’s stored is secure. Map your data and information journey through each process point. Consider the potential for data leaks through any point in the collecting, processing and storing of crucial data and information.

You should also check your network infrastructure security. Many businesses believe their network is fine and dandy. But even slight insecurity in a business’s network infrastructure can pose a risk as cybercriminals look to exploit any vulnerability.

Carrying out a vulnerability assessment is a great place to start. This will assess your system’s susceptibility to threats and will expose vulnerabilities. This gives you a starting point to begin to plug leaks in your network that could be an opening for a vicious cyberattack.

Cover the basics.

Every great fort that has stood the test of time has been built upon a solid foundation. After checking for vulnerabilities and fixing them, you should seek to cover the basics, which can be checked off quickly and easily and gives your cybersecurity posture a sturdy basis to be built from. These basics can be implemented quickly, boosting overall cybersecurity by a large margin relative to time and cost.

1. Keep all devices and software up-to-date.

A good place to start is to check for updates for all devices connected to the business’s network and all software, including the operating systems and applications. Security patches are released often, and leaks and vulnerabilities regularly being fixed across applications. This simple procedure should be done regularly or set up to be automatic.

2. Install anti-malware software.

A good, strong anti-malware is a fundamental piece to business cybersecurity. This will help protect your business by scanning, identifying and eliminating potentially lethal malware. It should be installed on all devices that your business uses.

3. Use 2FA everywhere possible.

2FA (two-factor authentication) is now commonplace. It’s a simple yet strong position that’s free and easy to set up on business accounts and applications. 2FA gives everyone in the business an extra layer of security that makes it harder for cyber criminals to hack into user accounts.

4. Create regular backups.

One of the first and most powerful steps any business can take to secure its vital data and information is to create a regular backup schedule. This is best done as an automatic schedule, leaving no missed backups. Businesses that have copies of their most important data and information stored can rebound more quickly from a breach.

5. Spot and avoid phishing emails.

Phishing emails are one of the most common methods for bad actors to steal confidential information so that they can hack their way into a business’s accounts. Logins and passwords, confidential and financial information are some of the information they’re aiming to steal. Employees should be trained to be able to spot and avoid phishing emails to prevent a disaster. Staff awareness training is a great consideration that could save your bottom line in the future.

These foundational principles and practises can save your bottom line and even your business. By understanding the reasons and needs for these cybersecurity principles and practises, what to consider and expect and implementing these security basics, your business’s overall cybersecurity is enhanced and elevated. Creating this solid foundation for your business’s cybersecurity makes it easier to go further and make your business bulletproof for the future.

Begin to bulletproof your cybersecurity today.