Cyber attacks are costly and disruptive to all businesses. The majority of small businesses in Australia have experienced a cyber attack or a malicious threat in the last 12 months. Recently, the majority of these attacks have breached company policy and critical data.
The cost of restoring small businesses after a cyber attack cannot be ignored. Most of the resources go into restoring infrastructure and IT assets.
Cyber breaches and attacks lead to major losses after disruption of business activities. In severe cases, some small businesses can’t recover from these attacks leading to closure of business or even bankruptcy.
Some of the attacks targeting small businesses include web-based attacks, phishing and social engineering. Most of these attacks are facilitated by end-user behaviour like weak passwords or sharing login information insecurely.
This is why small businesses need to have a well thought cybersecurity plan to mitigate such breaches and attacks.Here are some basic steps for preparing a cybersecurity plan.
1. Identifying Threats and Key Assets
The first thing to do when developing a cybersecurity plan template is always to identify any cybersecurity risks or threats your business may experience. You should also list digital assets in your business like emails and customer data.
Some of the risk factors may include but are not limited to;
- Employee negligence
- External risks
- Technical issues and failure
- Accidental damage
The following steps can help you in determining the action you should take to boost your business’ overall security posture. This includes endpoint security, network and data security.
2. Prioritising Key Assets, Threats and Risks
This step depends on the context of your business. What your business deals with will determine the approach used.
To easily establish and prioritise this, there are 3 questions which you need to have answers for;
- What risks and threats would harm your business more
- The main concerns of your business in relation to cybersecurity
- Present or future threats and risks in your business
These 3 questions are crucial and you can even go an extra step by identifying countermeasures for threats and risks identified. Classifying them from the easiest to the hardest to achieve will further easen the process.
3. Setting Achievable Goals
Setting goals your business can achieve rather than a list of procedures that you won’t use is important.Your cybersecurity goals should include everything that you want to achieve.
Such goals can be grouped according to the period of time you expect they can be achieved. This can be a period of 6 months or any time frame that you may have in mind.
Don’t set long term goals that you can’t achieve. Short term goals are easily achievable and can be monitored easily.
When drafting your cybersecurity business policies and goals, have in mind that they will be a determinant of your business’ overall cybersecurity effort.
4. Documenting Cybersecurity Policies and Procedures
Many small businesses don’t have their policies documented. Most of them operate through word of mouth to communicate procedures and guidelines. While this may seem easier and less daunting, it is safer to operate out of written down guidelines, videos or any other form of documented information.
For your business to have a strong cybersecurity posture, it is important to document every guideline, process, protocol or procedure.
This process may require you to outsource the services of other organisations which are well placed to give cybersecurity advice and operations. If the process seems tiring or too complicated, you can always hire companies which are skilled in business and technical writing.
With this document detailing all the processes and procedures, your business will be in line with cybersecurity best practices.
5. Linking the Goals to Your Business Objectives
Always ensure that each cybersecurity goal is aligned to a business reason or goal. In the cybersecurity plan documentation, if you include a firewall, also indicate what objective it will achieve in terms of business. This will ensure that each goal is well aligned to your business needs.
Every cybersecurity decision you make has an impact on the business. For this reason, ensure that your plan doesn’t ignore the business side of your organisation. Business and cybersecurity plans should go hand in hand.
6. Testing for Vulnerabilities
After you come up with a cybersecurity plan ensure you don’t forget to do the test run. This will ensure you know if your plan is viable or if you have to draft another one.
Having to wait until a cyber breach or attack happens will be too risky to determine if your plan is adequate and robust. Testing for vulnerabilities may require hiring an expert to do all the assessment so as to ensure your plan is up to date and still effective against cyber attacks.
Experts who test for vulnerabilities may be penetration testers or simply ethical hackers. They will look for loopholes in your system and attempt to breach them just like an attacker would do but they will not compromise your system.
In addition, they will give you a report of how your system is and the overall cybersecurity posture of your business. They will also advise on changes to your cybersecurity plan if they find the need to. This is because attackers are always changing their techniques and your business needs to have a security plan that is evolving too.
Drafting or building a cybersecurity plan template for your small business is something you should highly consider if you have not. If you already have a template, ensure that the policies are well tested and they will mitigate attacks and breaches. Involving a cybersecurity expert in this process is also very crucial.
After you have come up with a well drafted and tested plan, ensure that it is put to practice. Some businesses have these plans but they do not implement them.
Having a cybersecurity plan template that is not implemented will not protect your small business. It is important for small businesses to stop having the notion that they are not a target to cyber attacks.
How cyber-secure is your business? Find out with our free cybersecurity health check.
It’s a 30 minute Zoom call that walks through a checklist to assess your current cybersecurity levels and provide a short report with some advice and recommendations.