Cybersecurity breaches are becoming even more common than we think, and with technology advancing like never before, it is becoming even harder to prevent these attacks! Online hackers are using different types of tools to try and hack into your personal information. 

Nevertheless, you can’t even afford to leave your data security behind because the business impact can be long-lasting. However, it only takes one single online attack to make everything upside down. Thus, you want to be extra careful and provide the right security protective measures. 

Well, that’s about it for this article. These are the nine steps you need to undertake to reduce cybersecurity risk. 

9 Steps for reducing cybersecurity risk 

  • Encrypt your data and create backup folders

Ensure that all of your sensitive data is encrypted. Nevertheless, saving your data in a regular text format will make it easier for online attackers to steal it. However, data encryption limits data access to those who don’t have the encryption key and unauthorized access. So even if an online attacker somehow gains access to the information, they won’t be able to read it. 

Moreover, encryption software will inform you of real-time attacks, so if you react fast enough, you can even count them. However, even if you don’t respond fast enough, it’s important to have backup files you can use. Nevertheless, keep a practical and secure backup in mind, so you don’t risk losing revenue from your organization. 

If you are wondering how to use backup files effectively, you can consider following the 3-2-1 rule. It stands for three copies of stored data, where two of these copies should be kept on different channels, and one should be somewhere offsite. 

  • Identify any threats 

There are primary threats that most companies go through, and they are some basic ones every day. Only in one year, from 2020 to 2021, cyber security attacks increased by 31%. However, depending on the type of system you are using, here are some additional threats that you may be facing if you don’t take proper protective measures: 

  • Unauthorized access: This may include malware, direct online attacks, or even an internal attack. 
  • Misuse of information by authorized users: This includes unapproved usage or even amendments made without any party approval. 
  • Data loss: This includes poor replications or destructive backup processes. 
  • Data leakage: May include poor paper retention, transmitting Nonpublic Personal Information (NPPI) over unsecured channels, accidentally revealing or sending sensitive information, and more. 
  • Productivity disruption 

Nevertheless, there are many cases of threats, and maybe even in the future, hackers will find a new set of threats such as bots, spam folders, and much more. Bots are also a common attack method that online attackers use against you. So we need to hope for the best and prepare for the worst! Additionally, if you want to learn more about blocking bad bots, you can always follow DataDomes guide to blocking bots on your website. 

  • Be aware of your IT environment 

No matter what you do, you can’t ever be successful in preventing threats if you don’t know what your organization’s IT environments and assets are for having an effective cybersecurity risk management plan. However, do you know how to secure your assets or gateways that you don’t know of? 

Identify your IT environment and determine which digital assets, data, networks, systems, third-party components, and technology you need to consider protecting. You need to monitor your IT environment continuously, so you can be prepared to guard your most important business assets. 

  • Include a cybersecurity risk assessment 

Risk assessment results will allow you to predict how prepared your organization is against any potential threats. In short, it’s how well your organization can fight common attacks like malware, phishing, ransomware, and more. 

To better know how well prepared you are, you can run a cybersecurity risk assessment with the following steps: 

  • Scoping: You need to decide if your assessment should cover some vital systems or the entire infrastructure?
  • Identification: Identify all possible threats for each of your assets. 
  • Analysis: Analyze all threats to see what kind of damage they can do to your organization. 
  • Evaluation: Based on the results you achieve through your analysis, try to choose the best way you fight each time of risk. 
  • Documentation: Set up a risk register to identify all of your risks and the type of steps you’ll take to counter them. 
  • Regularly train your employees

To successfully counter cyber attacks, you can’t be the only one in your organization that knows how to counter them; instead, this should be contrasted with teamwork. In fact, according to a study, more than three billion phishing emails are sent out daily. All of these emails contain malware that is harmful to your data and allows hackers to take advantage of your login credentials. 

Phishing emails are one of the most challenging emails to detect. Why so? Because hackers can make them look so fundamental that you can’t distinguish if it’s spam or not. However, employees who are trained can counter these emails. You need to inform them of all possible emails that may be spam. 

Additionally, always keep in mind to check the email addresses you are replying to and especially the links. Finally, formulate some organizational policy that is a sum of methods online attackers will try to use to steal your information. 

  • Analyze your control environment 

In order to assess your control environment, there are several things you need to pay attention to. Ultimately, you want to identify compensating controls, prevent potential and related threats. Some examples include the following: 

  • Administration controls 
  • Operations controls 
  • User-authentication controls 
  • Risk management controls and more 

Control assessment categories can be defined as the following: 

  • Not good enough: Doesn’t meet the criteria asked for  
  • Satisfactory: Meets criteria, but some minor improvements may do 
  • Excellent: Meets all recommendations
  • Needs improvement: Partially meets recommendations but needs improvement on major parts
  • Set up an Incident Response plan

An incident response (IR) plan combines instructions and tools to help teams quickly deal with and recover from any cybersecurity threats. For example, if any security breach occurs, you’ll be able to counter it promptly, and that’s what the IR plan promotes- to have the right resources, plan, people, and technology to fight real-time threats. 

IR plans are great for protecting yourself from ransomware, malware, and other data breaches. If you want to set up a successful IR plan, answer the following: 

  • Identify critical systems: Identity which systems are most important to your business
  • Identify risks: Find out what are the risks and threats to your business
  • Assess the roles of your teammates: Each teammate should be responsible for a specific role in countering cyber attacks 
  • Create communication guidelines: Create protocols that team members can rely on for information
  • Test, monitor, and improve: Regularly test and monitor what is happening. If you find new ways of countering cyber-attacks, do so. 
  • Don’t forget to update your software 

Software updates have a long-lasting impact on your cyber security and online safety. This isn’t the reason they add new features, but they also fix bugs, patch security bugs, and include vulnerabilities that can be exploited. 

Online attackers will use codes to exploit vulnerabilities. This code has malware that can do damage to your whole system. So, the only way to counter these attacks is to update your system and software constantly. 

  • Avoid using weak passwords

If you want to get your data stolen easily, use a weak password. In fact, more than 60% of businesses are using weak passwords. As a result, online attackers need little effort to exploit this information. 

Password cracking technology has advanced over time, and simple passwords don’t do the trick anymore. Instead, you can be better off by using complex passwords to keep serious crimes away. 

Here are a few tips you can use for your password strategies: 

  • Make sure your password is at least eight characters 
  • Don’t include passwords with alphabetic orders 
  • Avoid including any personal information 
  • Don’t use passwords you have previously used 
  • Try to contain special characters 

Lastly, don’t forget to put your password in an encrypted format. Many sites you seek to create an account will give you instructions when creating a password. You can do the same, using the instructions we mentioned above. 

Wrapping everything up 

That’s about it for this article. These are the top nine steps you need to follow for reducing your cybersecurity risk. Above all, the most important thing is for us to be prepared before a cyber attack, because they can happen when you least expect them. 

Set up a plan, train your team, set a strong password, and ensure that you are always updating your system. If you do these, online attackers’ chance of getting to you will be reduced significantly. 

Also Read: How to Build Your Career as a Cybersecurity Specialist?