10 May, 2023

In today's digital world, cyber attacks have become a major concern for organizations of all sizes. Cyber crime is on the rise for a variety of reasons:

  1. An increased dependence on technology has made today’s businesses more vulnerable to cyber attacks
  2. Cyber criminals are becoming much more sophisticated, even employing artificial intelligence to identify institutional vulnerabilities
  3. Cyber crime is increasingly profitable for hackers

That profitability for hackers can translate into devastating losses for its victims. The average cost of a cyber attack can vary greatly depending on the type and severity of the attack, the size and industry of the targeted organization, and the extent of the damage and data loss caused by the attack.

However, according to a 2022 report by IBM Security and Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach globally is $4.35 million. This cost can be significantly higher for larger organizations, with the average cost of a data breach for companies with more than 25,000 employees reaching nearly $12 million.

It's important to note that the cost of a cyber attack goes beyond just financial losses and can also include reputational damage and loss of customer trust. Further, the cost of cyber attacks is likely to continue to rise. The average cost of a breach in 2022 was up 2.6% from the previous year and up 12.7% from 2020.

This all underscores the critical importance for organizations to take proactive measures to protect themselves from cyber attacks. Here are 8 steps organizations can implement to reduce vulnerabilities and safeguard their digital assets.

1. Implement Strong Password Policies

One of the most basic steps to protect against cyber attacks is to implement strong password policies. Passwords should be complex, long, and unique for each account. Passwords should be changed frequently, and multi-factor authentication should be enforced wherever possible. It’s also important to educate employees about the importance of using strong passwords and not sharing them with anyone.

2. Regularly Update Software and Systems

Software and systems must be regularly updated to patch vulnerabilities that may be exploited by hackers. This includes updating operating systems, web browsers, antivirus software, and any other software or applications used in the organization. In addition, it’s important to ensure that all devices are running the latest version of their respective software.

3. Use Firewalls and Antivirus Software

Firewalls and antivirus software should be installed on all devices and networks to prevent unauthorized access and to detect and remove malware. Firewalls help block unauthorized access to a network, while antivirus software helps detect and remove malicious software that may have infected a device.

4. Conduct Regular Security Audits

Regular security audits can help organizations identify potential vulnerabilities in their systems and take corrective measures to address them. This includes conducting vulnerability scans, penetration testing, and network security assessments.

5. Limit Access to Sensitive Information

Access to sensitive information should be limited to only those who need it to perform their job responsibilities. This includes implementing role-based access control (RBAC) and least privilege access policies. RBAC ensures that users have only the minimum access necessary to perform their duties, while least privilege access policies limit access to only those resources that are required to perform a particular task.

6. Educate Employees

Human error is often a significant factor in successful cyber attacks. Therefore, it is important to educate employees on how to identify and prevent cyber threats. This includes training on phishing attacks, social engineering, and other common attack methods. Employees should also be encouraged to report any suspicious activity immediately.

7. Have a Disaster Recovery Plan

Even with the best security measures in place, it’s still possible for a cyber attack to occur. Therefore, it’s important to have a disaster recovery plan in place to minimize the impact of an attack. This includes regular backups of critical data, a plan for restoring systems and data after an attack, and regular testing of the plan.

8. Use a Virtual Data Room

A virtual data room (VDR) is an online platform used to securely store and share sensitive information and documents. VDRs are often used during mergers and acquisitions, due diligence processes, and other situations where sensitive financial or legal information needs to be shared among multiple parties.

A virtual data room allows authorized users to access documents and data from anywhere with an internet connection, while ensuring that the information remains secure and confidential. Users typically have to go through a multi-factor authentication process to gain access to the virtual data room, and all activity within the VDR is closely monitored and audited.

Virtual data rooms can be hosted by a third-party service provider, or they can be set up and managed in-house by a company or organization. They offer a number of advantages over traditional physical data rooms, including faster and more efficient document sharing, improved collaboration, and greater security and control over who has access to sensitive information.

In conclusion, protecting against cyber attacks requires a multi-layered approach. Organizations must implement strong security measures, regularly update software and systems, limit access to sensitive information, educate employees, have a disaster recovery plan in place, and consider storing sensitive data in a virtual data room. By taking these steps, organizations can reduce their risk of cyber attacks and protect their digital assets.