National Cybersecurity Awareness Month: 3 tips to jump-start your cybersecurity preparedness

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We are all facing new challenges in this pandemic, including the shift to and growth of remote work. Meanwhile, we also have to contend with the increased volume of attempted cyberattacks. Despite the distraction of the pandemic and all the changes and challenges it has brought, it is now more important than ever to remain attentive to cybersecurity.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. In order to promote awareness, this article identifies three tips to help you jump-start an audit of your company’s cybersecurity preparedness.

Tip #1: Education

The human factor is one of the largest vulnerabilities to any organization, and cybercriminals will attempt to exploit this vulnerability in every way possible. Educating and fostering a culture of cybersecurity and privacy awareness in your workforce and with contractors accessing your company’s systems or data are effective ways to reduce this potential vulnerability.

With a relatively reasonable level of upfront effort and cost, a simple educational program could provide a great return on investment. While cybercriminals will continue to find innovative ways to attempt to access your network, well-educated and well-trained employees can significantly reduce the risk of the financial and security nightmare caused by a cyberattack.

Tip #2: Policies and Procedures

A majority of organizations surveyed in IBM’s and the Ponemon Institute’s 2020 Cost of Data Breach Report predicted that remote work would make responding to a potential data breach a much more difficult ordeal. The IBM Report also found that incident response preparedness was the highest cost-saver for an organization.

Given the widespread shifts in how work is being done during the pandemic, now is a great time to review and assess existing practices and procedures to update (or create new) policies that reflect shifts in how your company operates.

Planning and preparing for possible cyberattacks can help your organization reduce the costs and impact if an attack does occur and help you return to normal business operations faster.

Tip #3: Insurance

Let’s be honest: insurance is not a sexy topic, but … a well-structured cyber insurance policy can be worth its weight in gold. The same IBM Report found that of the organizations that had cyber insurance, 51% used insurance coverage to cover the cost of third-party consulting and legal services, and 36% used insurance to cover the cost of restitution to victims.

With the ever-increasing financial impacts of a cyberattack, insurance coverage can be a great tool to help mitigate the associated costs. A cyber liability insurance policy can cover things like investigation and remediation costs, liability for damages resulting from a data breach, notification costs, business interruption or income losses, and more.

Now is a great time to review your company’s existing cyber insurance policies and consider potential new policies to cover any gaps.

There is much to worry about in business these days (even apart from COVID), and things have definitely not gotten easier with the onset of the pandemic. Cybersecurity issues can have a tendency to get pushed to the back burner by other issues that, at the time, seem more immediate or urgent. However, given the potentially catastrophic outcome of a cyberattack, there is no better time than the present to refocus on cybersecurity to make sure your company is ready for the future.