Kiwi businesses need to get ahead of emerging threats through detection and prevention, rather than cleaning up after them.
Cybersecurity is an increasingly strategic concern for business leaders in New Zealand as the number of cyberattacks continue to rise. Businesses face the reality that, as soon as security professionals develop new ways to identify and mitigate cyber threats, cybercriminals are already looking for the next way to access systems.
The scope and scale of cyberattacks today means a successful breach can have significant ramifications across an entire organisation. This can include everything from lost productivity and financial losses, to a negative impact on reputation, share price, and ability to attract customers. That makes cybersecurity an issue that requires a whole-of-business response, not just the IT and leadership teams.
Cybercrime is on the rise, however most cyberattacks in New Zealand still go unreported. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) recently commissioned an independent evaluation of the potential impact of cybercrime on New Zealand businesses, and found the potential cost would be around $640 million annually.
Organisations need to build their cyber resilience in order to identify, prevent, detect and respond to process or technology failures and recover quickly to minimise reputational and financial damage as well as customer harm. True cyber resilience means having the insight to anticipate a changing threat landscape, the agility to adapt and respond quickly to a cyberattack, and the resources to support the costs of recovery.
There are three key considerations for organisations looking to strengthen their cyber resilience:
- Humans are the weakest link in the war against cybercrime. As a first step, is to build better defences by enlisting people in the fight against cybercrime. With more people working remotely, it is critical for employees to understand their roles and responsibilities in protecting personal data and company resources. Many breaches occur because of human factors, including mistakes and malicious action. Human-related errors lead to nearly 95 per cent of all security issues, according to the 2014 IBM Chief Information Security Officer Assessment. Businesses need to educate employees and ensure they’re taking steps to stay safe while online.
It’s also important for businesses to protect remote devices. Devices that are compromised and infected with malware outside of the office can be potentially controlled by an attacker when brought back into the office, effectively opening the door for the hacker to gain remote control of internal systems.
- Prevention is key. One of the key issues making it harder for companies to combat cybercrime is a reactive approach to cyber-attacks and focusing on response and compliance. Businesses need to get ahead of emerging threats through detection and prevention, rather than cleaning up after them. An organisation’s security strategy must evolve with an emphasis towards detection of advanced threats but not at the expense of the prevention strategy.
While compliance is an important part of managing risk, organisations must understand that compliance doesn’t necessarily equate with being protected. Organisations will have a better chance at protection if they focus on preventing data breaches rather than concentrating on compliance with legislation and security standards.
- Technology is your friend. With advancements and innovations in technology, there are numerous tools available for cyber protection. Organisations should adopt technology that acts seamlessly behind the scenes, on a platform smart enough to take pre-emptive actions with a minimal manual effort by security teams. Use of automated threat response automates the action taken on detected cyber incidents, particularly those deemed malicious or anomalous. The flexibility and granularity of the controls that could be automatically implemented are immense.
Measures such as next-generation firewalls work to protect assets and create micro segments across the organisation, which increases visibility and decreases the threat of attacks. In addition, organisations should establish ongoing risk-management procedures, routine self-assessments, and periodic security audits and reviews.
While no cybersecurity protection or employee education can guarantee complete immunity, a combination of people, processes and technology will deliver a cyber resilience framework that will greatly improve a business’s chance of managing cyber risks effectively, reducing the risk of financial loss and damage to the business’s reputation and credibility.
Ian Raper is regional vice president, ANZ, Palo Alto Networks
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