Since the last half of the 1990s, cybersecurity has remained one of the most important concerns for C-suite executives. Back in 1995, the position of Chief Information Officer (CIO) had yet to become a common executive position. One of the primary reasons why CIOs have risen to prominence is due to the serious implications of not devising an effective cybersecurity strategy.
Cybercrimes have exploded in numbers since 2010 and the severity of cyberattacks has gotten much worse. Every year that passes, cybercrimes become much more sophisticated and thus, much more costly to address. Cybersecurity experts estimate the international costs of cyberattacks by 2025 should reach nearly $11 trillion, which represents an $8 trillion increase from the costs of cyberattacks in 2015.
Cybersecurity is now more than a problem for a CIO to address. It also should be on the agenda of every C-suite executive.
What Cybersecurity Threats Are the Most Serious for C-Suite Executives to Address?
Being proactive is the key to thwarting cyberattacks, which means C-suite executives should target the most serious threats faced by organizations.
Hackers love to exploit obsolete software, as a two-prong cyberattack in May of 2018 demonstrates. Both attacks exploited a serious weakness in the Windows operating system called Eternal Blue. Although Microsoft released a patch two months before the cyberattacks, many organizations failed to update their operating systems. This left their operating systems highly vulnerable to cyberattacks.
CIOs, as well as every other C-suite executive, must ensure software does not become outdated by installing recommended patches.
Vulnerable to Cloud Attacks
Storing and retrieving data from the cloud delivers several benefits, such as enhanced security, additional cost savings, and an increase in collaboration with business partners. However, the more businesses rely on the cloud for issues like quality control, the higher the risk of a cyber attacker committing a data breach. This is especially true for sensitive consumer information, such as credit card and Social Security numbers.
Developing a cyber risk management plan helps identify the most vulnerable processes that are completed by the use of cloud technology.
Ransomware represents one of the worst types of cyberattacks. This type of cyberattack infects an entire network by collecting proprietary data and dramatically slowing down computer systems until an organization pays a ransom. Ransomware attacks are the reason why more than 60 percent of small businesses close their doors before the end of six months have passed after an attack. According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, the frequency of ransomware attacks in the United States, as well as around the world, has significantly increased over the past few years. Learn how to protect your business from ransomware.
How to Protect Your Organization from Cyberattacks
The executives that make up the C-suite executive teams can take steps to protect their organizations from cybersecurity breaches.
Provide Comprehensive Training
A Standford University professor discovered that employees cause nearly 90 percent of all data breaches. Phishing represents the most common type of cyberattack that employees fail to prevent because they do not know the common identifiers of a phishing attack. Your organization does not have to create a cybersecurity training program from scratch. Instead, you have access to many cybersecurity training programs online that simulate different cyber invasions to educate workers about how to detect the signs of incoming attacks.
Increase the Complexity of Passwords
C-suite executives should emphasize the importance of creating complex passwords, as well as rotating passwords frequently to prevent data breaches. Another issue occurs when a worker uses the same password for a home network that is the same password created to gain access to a work network. Using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols is a good start when creating a complex password, as is changing between capitalized and non-capitalized letters. Developers offer software programs that create the most difficult passwords to breach.
As a CIO, you should implement multi-factor authentication to allow employees to verify their identities before accessing sensitive company data.
Strengthen a VPN or Firewall
Hackers often enter computer networks by discovering weaknesses in a firewall or VPN. Patching any security vulnerabilities discovered in a firewall or VPN can prevent cyberattacks from stealing sensitive data. The CIO must ensure a VPN or firewall possesses the most recent configurations for the security features.
Installing a VPN or firewall is not enough of a strategy to prevent cyberattacks. You also have to maintain the security features by installing the latest patches and updates.
The Bottom Line
Because of the serious financial implications, cybersecurity should be one of your organization’s top priorities. Although discovering and protecting against cybersecurity threats seems like a daunting task, the involvement of every C-suite executive can help your organization develop a comprehensive cyberattack prevention plan.
Although staying on top of updates and installing the latest cybersecurity tools represent important steps to protect your organization, you also should consider purchasing enough insurance to cover financial losses if the steps you took to prevent cyberattacks failed to stop a data breach. Specifically, a cyber security insurance policy can cover you against many types of data breaches. These types include phishing scams, hardware malfunction, malware attacks, and more.
Additional Cybersecurity Resources
What You Need to Know About Text-Based Smishing Attacks
Top Cybersecurity Certifications to Boost Your Career