Five Steps to Overcoming Cyber Complacency

[By Mike Toole, Head of IT and Security at Blumira]

It’s no secret that news about breaches and cyberattacks emerge daily. As a result of this constant exposure, even the most dedicated professionals understandably experience “data breach fatigue” and become desensitized to persistent threats.

This mentality can create new unseen risks detrimental to a company’s cybersecurity, such as negligence and lack of education, or in some cases, fatigue from security budget spending that ultimately doesn’t fix all the issues that arise. These challenges contribute to how most companies experience breaches, with 90% of all cyber claims stemming from human error or behavior.

While most employees strive to protect sensitive data, rapidly evolving threats and constant changes make that extraordinarily difficult. With empathy for these challenges, companies have an opportunity to support their teams with reasonable systems and collaboration that proactively strengthen cybersecurity. The goal is to build resilience against threats through proactive planning and training.

Let’s examine how companies can enact change and set their teams up for cybersecurity success.

A five-step framework for countering cyber complacency

Organizations must establish and follow a robust cybersecurity framework in the digital age to overcome complacency. This framework serves as a comprehensive strategy encompassing several critical steps to prevent and respond to cyber incidents.

  1. Conduct a vulnerability assessment

A vulnerability assessment can pinpoint weaknesses in the organization’s systems and processes that malicious actors could exploit. The assessment actively counters complacency by systematically identifying and evaluating security weaknesses within an organization’s infrastructure. It also serves as a regular reminder of the potential risks and underscores the necessity of vigilance in cybersecurity practices. In addition, an assessment prevents security risks from becoming normalized by continuously bringing them to the forefront, reminding organizations to regularly update their defenses and maintain awareness of potential issues.

An assessment starts with identifying and cataloging assets and then uses a combination of automated and manual testing to uncover security gaps. Companies can use the assessment results to remediate existing issues and schedule ongoing reassessments to strengthen cybersecurity measures as emerging threats arise. Typically, a team of individuals with specialized knowledge and expertise in information security, such as in-house or external IT teams or security consultants, conducts a cybersecurity vulnerability assessment.

  1. Develop and communicate security policies

As part of a proactive cybersecurity approach, it is vital to define security policies. Security policies should address password management, data classification, acceptable technology use, managing mobile devices, and more custom elements depending on your organization, vertical, or compliance needs.

To effectively enact cybersecurity policies, companies should develop clear and comprehensive protocols with stakeholder input and approval from company leaders. Policies should be regularly reviewed and updated to adapt to new threats, feedback and company changes, ensuring they remain relevant and robust. Revisiting policies over time establishes a solid cybersecurity foundation and promotes a culture of continual vigilance and improvement within the organization. When developing or revising policies, it can be beneficial to gauge current knowledge and practices to uncover gaps where further policy detail or training is needed.

Equally important is effectively communicating these policies to all employees. Ensure that personnel know and understand the security policies to help achieve successful implementation. Regular communication, including sharing need-to-know updates and policy changes, helps to promote adherence to established guidelines and best practices in cybersecurity. Another effective best practice to reinforce the information is to make cybersecurity personal and relevant to individuals, demonstrating how it impacts their role or team functions.

It’s important to emphasize that cyber threats aren’t just an issue for specific people or groups within the company—anyone at any level can fall prey to an attack.

  1. Prepare an incident response plan

In addition to clearly laying out company cybersecurity policies, organizations will need an effective incident response plan. The plan should outline the specific steps during a cybersecurity incident, including procedures for identifying, containing, eradicating, recovering from and analyzing security incidents. The ongoing effectiveness of the incident response plan hinges on regular testing and updates. Conducting simulated exercises to test the plan’s efficacy enables the organization to identify potential gaps or areas for improvement.

Utilize lessons learned from these exercises to update and refine the incident response plan. Regular testing and updates contribute to the organization’s preparedness and resilience in mitigating the impact of cybersecurity incidents.

  1. Invest in employee skills development

Investing in employee and IT team skills development in cybersecurity is crucial for several reasons. Cybersecurity threats constantly evolve, and employees are often the first line of defense against attacks. Investing in their skills can help them recognize and respond to threats, protecting sensitive company and customer information. All employees—regardless of tenure or seniority—need to participate in training to bolster the company’s security position. For example, companies can simulate a phishing attack where employees receive fake phishing emails to gauge their responses and improve their ability to identify threats.

Employees well-trained in security are less likely to fall victim to common threats like phishing attacks or social engineering. In a security incident, well-trained employees can respond quickly and effectively, minimizing the impact of an incident and facilitating a faster recovery. Swift responses can save the business time and resources while maintaining its reputation.

While technology plays a crucial role in cybersecurity, the human element is equally important. Team members who understand how to use security tools effectively can maximize their impact, making the overall security infrastructure more robust.

  1. Implement easy-to-use cybersecurity software
    For small and medium-sized businesses, actively adopting cybersecurity solutions remains a critical yet often neglected aspect of many organizations’ security postures. By choosing cybersecurity tools that are accessible and straightforward, organizations can significantly enhance their security posture. User-friendly software encourages consistent use and adherence to security protocols by IT staff, thereby decreasing the risk of breaches caused by human error.

Cyber complacency ends now

When it comes to cybersecurity, complacency is not an option. By fostering a culture of vigilance and resilience, companies can transform cybersecurity from a daunting challenge into a manageable and integral part of their daily operations. By recognizing employees as a critical line of defense, fostering a positive security culture and equipping teams with knowledge and tools, organizations can fortify their cybersecurity posture and navigate the evolving challenges of the digital realm.

About the author

Mike Toole, Head of Security and IT at Blumira, has over a decade of experience in IT. Prior to joining Blumira, he managed IT for Duo Security and Censys. He has broad experience with a range of IT and security focus areas, including compliance, network design, log monitoring, project management, and cross-platform IT.


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