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The 5 Cyber Security Risk Management Steps All Businesses Must Take

The 5 Cyber Security Risk Management Steps All Businesses Must Take

Over the past decade, the number of data breaches in the US has skyrocketed. The global economy has seen a massive move to online business, and COVID has only accelerated this change. As a result, businesses and organizations large and small are more vulnerable than ever to cyber attacks, and cyber criminals have never found hacking more lucrative.

When organizations from retail stores to healthcare providers to government agencies are at risk, how can your business clients stay protected? The key is strong cyber security risk management.

What is Cyber Risk Management?

Overhead view of two pairs of businesspeople’s arms using laptop computers on wooden table, illustrating dual authorization.

In short, cyber security risk management is the process of identifying, evaluating, and addressing the vulnerabilities in an organization’s digital infrastructure.

Once your client’s business has an idea of the risks it faces and their potential effect on the organization, it can choose to address those vulnerabilities based on its risk appetite. Once it has evaluated all the risks, it can choose to ignore them, modify activity to reduce them, eliminate risky activities altogether, or transfer those risks to a third party or insurance plan.

Cyber liability insurance is vitally important to protecting your client’s business step. As you can see, however, it’s only one of many risk reduction methods, and far from the most proactive. Businesses can take many simple steps to reduce risk as its source. Taking these precautions will lower not only cyber risk but also insurance costs, and improve the coverage and capacity offered to your business clients.

5 Easy Steps to Manage Cyber Security Risk

1. Implement Dual Authorization

At its base, dual authorization means ensuring no one individual’s credentials are sufficient to allow some part of a business to move forward. An easy way to avoid wire fraud is to get an extra set of eyes on potentially sensitive transactions. Always have multiple people signing off on checks, ACH transactions, and wires.

After receiving an invoice, for instance, your client should always call the vendor directly using either the phone number already on file or a publicly available number. This procedure distributes the sources confirming information, rather than simply trusting the details on the invoice. Calling the number on the invoice could mean calling the hackers. Likewise, emailing to confirm payment details with an unverified representative could mean giving information to a bad actor. Dual authorization procedures like these greatly reduce the risk of allowing a fraudulent transaction or falling for a phishing scam.

2. Use a Secure Email Gateway (SEG)

Sealed letter envelopes pass through slot topped with padlock over grid background, illustrating secure email gateway (SEG).

An SEG is a type of software or device used to monitor emails both sent and received. As do dual authorization procedures, the software helps identify spam email, malicious attacks, and fraudulent content.

A Secure Email Gateway automatically analyzes incoming emails to ensure legitimate emails make their way to the intended recipient, while filtering out the rest. Likewise, it can analyze outgoing messages to prevent sensitive data from leaving the organization.

SEG services typically cost less than $5 per month, with popular vendors including Proofpoint, Mimecast, and Barracuda.

3. Practice Patch Management

Software engineering is a constant battle between hackers who find vulnerabilities and software engineers who fix them. For this reason, your client must keep their software updated with the most current version. The longer an old software version is in a network, the greater the cyber security risk.

When vulnerabilities are announced, your client should patch them as soon as possible to avoid additional risk.

4. Get a Password Manager

Employees sit in three rows of chairs watching a speaker gesture during a cyber security risk management training event.

If your client’s employees create their own passwords for accessing company records, they might be at greater risk than they realize. Password reuse is a serious and shockingly common problem. Several high-profile breaches in the past few years have resulted from employee’s personal passwords being exposed in a data breach. Reused credentials allowed hackers to access private company data, resulting in costly breaches.

Using a password manager is a simple solution. Password managers help generate and retrieve complex, strong passwords. They take the burden of creating and memorizing passwords off the employee, and ensure employee credentials exposed in a third-party breach don’t threaten your client.

5. Organize Employee Training

In cyber risk management, the biggest vulnerability is always human. Unlike software, employees don’t automatically follow security protocols, and can be easily deceived or manipulated. For these reasons, 90% of all cyber claims result from some type of human error.

To minimize the cyber security risk from employees, your client must provide training that builds a culture of awareness and cyber safety. Companies like KnowBe4 provide customized programs based on the specific circumstances of your client’s business, giving employees the tools to avoid data breaches.

Your Next Step in Helping Your Clients Protect Their Business

Want even more tips on cyber security risk management? Download our free pamphlet, Simple & Cost Effective Ways to Reduce Your Cyber Risk.

And to get answers to more questions about cyber security, risk management, and cyber liability insurance, contact us today.

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