It is alarming to learn that only one in four small businesses is truly ready for a cyber-attack. No, the issue isn’t that security isn’t on the minds of business leaders. While some businesses lack enough financial resources, others do not have a well-trained workforce. In other cases, small businesses might be channeling their efforts and resources into the wrong areas security-wise.

In turn, those businesses risk everything, from damaging their reputation to losing customers and having to handle costly fines. If you think that cyber-security is a once and done task, think again. Cyber-criminals are always looking for ways to outsmart the current security tools and policies, and the rate at which technology is advancing seems to work in their favor.

Ideally, always being on your toes in the fight against cyber-security threats is the only way your business can remain afloat. As long as you can leverage stellar risk management strategies, creating a strong security posture for your business will be a walk in the park.

Here is how data protection is changing and how to use risk management strategies to protect your company’s data:

IoT Security Threats Will Be Powered By AI
With convenience being one of the most significant commodities in the business world, the Internet of Things is expected to gain even more traction. More businesses will invest in IoT devices, from routers to devices made to run factory machinery. Sadly, most manufacturers are yet to deliver such devices with security as part of the design.

For you as a business owner, this means that you risk having hackers access your business’ network through such vulnerable devices. Worst of all, hackers are starting to leverage AI to form attacks that can mimic normal user behaviors. This makes it easy for them to bypass common security tools.

Among the best ways to retaliate is to install standard IoT device updates and strive to purchase devices that are designed with security as part of their design. Since manufacturers realize the threat that lies in AI-crafted threats, they are working to patch common device vulnerabilities. Consider giving the update management role to a specific individual in your workforce to reduce the risks involved.

Spear Phishing Will Continue To Be a Greater Threat
Without enough employee training and investment in security tools, you can easily fall prey of spear-phishing (also known as warshipping). This is where members of your workforce receive emails from hackers who are working in the façade of a well-known vendor. In other cases, a criminal will gain access to one of your employee’s emails and start collecting information. Once they collect all the necessary information they need for an attack, they can contact clients and ask for data or even cash. Not only can these attacks damage your reputation, but they can also be the start of costly lawsuits.

This type of attack has been quite prominent in the mortgage industry for some time now. For starters, train your employees on how to spot washipping threats before they happen. Next, ensure that you encrypt your sensitive data and use multi-factor authentication for all accounts to prevent the chances of a hacker gaining access to your business’ data. You can also use Ai-based tools that block phishing attacks.

Compliance Will Be Mandatory
While there are a million ways to protect your business from emergent threats, cyber-security regulations are made to standardize data protection. Regulations like HIPAA, PCI DSS, and GDPR help organizations observe the threshold requirements for protecting their data. Failure to comply increases your chances of undergoing a data breach as well as incurring hefty fines from the regulatory bodies.

However, compliance goes beyond your business. Most regulations also require businesses to work with vendors who are compliant too. Other than reducing the risk that your data might get compromised due to a vendor’s non-compliance, working with compliant vendors also reduces the chances of incurring hefty fines. Be sure to assess your vendors’ security practices before working with them.

The Role That Risk Management Plays
There is no silver bullet for securing businesses against cyber threats. While your business might be battling a specific threat, another one might be fighting a completely different one. As a result, understanding your threat landscape is the best way to combat subtle threats before they turn into a menace. Risk management helps you assess where your business stands security-wise and look for ways to reduce security risks.

Ideally, you need to assess vendor security systems, the effectiveness of your tools, and any security loopholes that exist in your network. With a risk management program, it becomes easy to identify security loopholes and focus on getting rid of them. It also helps to choose the right tools, instead of channeling your business’ scarce resources towards trivial threats while leaving the more significant risks to chance.

Your business’ threat landscape is bound to evolve with time. While the threats above are plaguing businesses today, more will come up with time. Focus on risk management to keep your business ready to fight future security threats.

By: Ken Lynch

The author is an enterprise software startup veteran, who has always been fascinated about what drives
workers to work and how to make work more engaging. Ken founded Reciprocity to pursue just that. He
has propelled Reciprocity's success with this mission-based goal of engaging employees with the
governance, risk, and compliance goals of their company in order to create more socially minded
corporate citizens. Ken earned his BS in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from MIT.

Aashima Sharma

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