Q4 2020 is upon us. While it has been a year rife with setbacks and obstacles, both inside the workplace and out, many businesses have managed to cope well and maintain operations at a steady-to-strong level. Now, we are looking for ways to capitalize on new opportunities and end the year on a positive note.
Disruption and economic instability place extreme pressure on the processes, planning and teams we rely on to keep business running productively and profitably. When these are strong, we can endure hard times, because infrastructure is sound and commitments are clear. When these are weak, they exacerbate disruption and instability. Businesses and teams suffer.
For the moment, let’s assume your business has been fortunate and falls into the first camp. Despite 2020’s relentless tumult, you are in a strong financial position and have spent time and effort trying to bolster operations, so 2021 is a banner year. Marketing campaigns are up and running, demand for your product or service is high, and production is streamlined. Based on these measurements, you should achieve your goals of closing 2020 on a high note and begin 2021 primed for new gains. Such a forecast is a cause for celebration, to reflect and share gratitude for your team’s hard work. By all accounts, you’ve weathered the storm, and bright skies are ahead.
But then something happens. Something unforeseen and potentially harmful. Your IT team detects unusual behavior on your network. Alerts come in from your security system. Team members can no longer access platforms and applications. All signs point to a cybersecurity attack.
No business is immune.
As we know, cybersecurity attacks are on the rise. No business or organization is immune. Multi-national enterprises, small businesses with few team members, nonprofits whose mission provides aid to people in need – any one of these organizations have data a cybercriminal can steal and exploit. What’s more, setbacks of varying significance and cost can occur from a cyberattack, disrupting operations, compromising private data and diverting attention and time. Let’s look at these from a purely business perspective and determine what you can do to manage threats and respond to attacks.
Given the current circumstances in which many employees work remotely, businesses are vulnerable to attack as never before. Widespread use of mobile devices and personal machines pose difficult security management and IT challenges. Networks carry vast amounts of data and traffic. Third-party applications, designed to help teams communicate in a remote environment, need constant supervision. If you are a cybersecurity victim, these challenges and others become serious vulnerabilities.
Cyberattacks hijack a business’s ability to operate. The nature of the attack determines the urgency a team applies to reach a solution, but it is safe to say that regardless of the type of attack, it’s imperative to shut it down as quickly as possible. This means that teams are pulled away from other work. The marketing campaigns, sales cycles and production timelines that were going to lead to a strong Q4 are put on hold and suddenly risk falling short.
If an attacker steals private or sensitive data, your business may experience reputational damage or be forced to pay a ransom to get it back. As a result, customers and clients lose trust. Team members feel violated and unprotected. Strategies and processes that are vital to your competitive advantage are exposed, weakening your marketplace position.
Businesses must have a plan.
Managing threats and mitigating damage are difficult enough with an active security solution in place. Should an attack occur while there is no security solution, a business could lose months trying to recoup losses and implement the tools necessary to prevent a future attack. Thinking this way – not if an attack will occur, but when – is an unfortunate reality, but the appropriate stance to take. After all, being aware and prepared is better than being scared and confused about what to do when an attack does strike. Security solutions are manifold and always evolving to meet your business’ specific needs. With that, keep in mind that most cybersecurity attacks are preventable. When business networks are monitored, and security teams are empowered with planning and response tactics, attacks can be detected and stopped from causing serious and long-lasting damage.
Take a moment to think through what would happen to your business if it were attacked. Ask these questions.
1. Do you know where you are vulnerable?
2. Is your network actively monitored and employees current on security protocols and best practices?
3. Do you have an incident response plan ready?
4. Do you trust your plan, security tools, and provider to carry it out in a timely and effective manner?
5. What action steps can you take today to improve your security overall?
Reduce Cyber Risk in 2021
Don’t let a cybersecurity attack disrupt your business and stand in the way of your goals in the new year. Employing the solutions that meet your specific business needs will keep you as safe as possible. Monitoring remote and native networks, utilizing Mobile Device Management (MDM), and ensuring all team members understand their security responsibilities and best practices are critical to preserving the integrity of your data and protecting your reputation and success.