In the face of increasing cyber threats, organisations can protect themselves by applying proper cybersecurity measures such as regular monitoring and multi-factor authentication. These protective measures come as a part of a well-devised cybersecurity plan. Since many start-ups or small organisations don’t have a clear roadmap to set a proper cybersecurity plan, we bring you the steps you need to consider devising the best strategy.

What is a Cybersecurity Plan? Why is it important?

A cybersecurity plan is the number of steps or practices a business must follow to protect its network, data and clients from internal and external cyber threats. A proper cybersecurity plan outlines the base of your organisation’s cybersecurity work, possible future threats, and necessary updates. The plan’s effectiveness will reflect in protecting your sensitive data and avoiding monetary losses.

How to Devise the Best Cybersecurity Plan?

There are various steps to consider when setting your cybersecurity plan that, include applying assessments and principles to ensure the effectiveness of your plan.

Risk Assessment to Fulfil Your Security Goals

A successful cybersecurity plan necessitates a risk assessment to assess the threats likely to arise when your organisation starts operating. An IT expert can perform the assessment, identify possible risks and set the organisation’s security goals accordingly. This step is vital to define the area of the organisation’s network that needs stricter protection measures, which helps allocate available resources.

Elements of risk assessment include:

  • Asset inventory: including all operating systems, workstations and laptops in the organisation.
  • Classify your data: what data is confidential, available for public sharing, data for internal use only, the organisation’s intellectual property data and compliance data.
  • Divide your assets: into authorised software, operating systems, users and their access and tasks.
  • Potential threats: including third-party contracts, internal infrastructure and cloud storage solutions.

A firewall is a Must

A firewall is the first line of defence for any small or medium-sized business; it helps to protect your network from unauthorised access. Furthermore, a firewall can handle heavy traffic on your network and filter incoming traffic for vulnerable or unauthorised devices. Your operating system has a default integrated firewall, make sure to utilise it well, and you can also invest in good firewall software.

The Necessity of Anti-Malware Software

Powerful anti-malware software is the second step in your cybersecurity plan. Data breaches are only expected to increase, despite vigilant efforts to limit them. It would be best to protect your network with anti-malware software and your employees’ work devices with the same software. Your network’s greatest threat is malware hidden in phishing emails and text messages that target your employees.

Regular Software Update

Regular software update ensures your applications and operating system have the latest patches; hence they can keep up with the continuous development in the cybersecurity field. Outdated software has known vulnerabilities, making it an easier target for hackers and facilitating their way into your business’ network.

Consistent Data Backup

Regular data backup will protect it from hackers trying to steal it, but that’s not the only benefit. When you back up your data to an off-site server, you can keep only necessary data available for access on the company server. This step dramatically reduces the risk of data exposure if the network is hacked. In recent years, storing data backup in the cloud has been the trend, especially after Covid-19, which brought another level of cybersecurity risks in the event of a cloud misconfiguration. So, check that your data backup is up to date on the off-site server and the cloud.

Secure Wi-Fi

It’s easy for anyone to connect to a low or unsecured Wi-Fi network, especially if it is set as a public network. To protect your organisation’s network, you must set it as an encrypted network, use a VPN to hide its name and ensure your settings are protected with a strong password and firewall.

Strong Passwords cannot be Stressed Enough

A strong password contains letters, characters and numbers, is at least eight characters long and is difficult to predict. As a business owner, you need to emphasise using strong passwords for your employees, for their work credentials and their personal accounts as well. You can ensure they adhere to this rule by advising them to use two-factor authentication to gain access to sensitive company data, which allows them to keep track of any suspicious behaviour on their accounts. Additionally, advise them never to share their login credentials with other parties.

Strict Application of Data Protection Procedures

The strict application of data protection procedures entails regularly updating the organisation’s operational aspects, such as operating systems and software. It also means adjusting the system’s security measures to protect viewed data.

Restrict Access

Your employees need permission to access the data or install any software about their work, which they must do under a supervising eye. Any other installations should be the speciality of your IT team or an administrator who understands the software he’s about to install. Restricted access is vital because it helps your business network avoid hackers lurking on websites that offer free downloads. Such downloads frequently mask malware, such as ransomware, that can steal your data and demand a ransom.

Zero-Trust Policy

A zero-trust policy is a literal cybersecurity model that requires identity authentication from all employees when logging into the organisation’s network, whether in the office or on the go. This policy is more popular with large organisations due to the significant number of employees. It helps them control, monitor and keep track of their employees’ activities on the network and identify possible cybersecurity threats.

Office Action Plan and Mobile Devices Action Plan

An office action plan includes the steps to follow in the event of a cybersecurity attack or an imminent one. At times, it becomes necessary to have work done on the go, which means employees will use portable devices such as mobiles, laptops or tablets. These portable devices pose another source of cybersecurity risks, more so if they connect to public Wi-Fi networks, where hackers lurk.

So, in addition to an office action plan, you need to set an action plan for mobile devices. When your employees access company data using a portable device, they must protect this device with a strong password, avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi networks as much as possible, encrypt their data and install security applications for further protection.

Will Your Technology Help in Fulfilling your Cybersecurity Goals?

A successful business has its cybersecurity goals in alignment with its goals as a business, and the main determining factor here is the adopted technology. Make an inventory of your operational systems, their uses and expiry dates to guide your IT team in keeping track of the latest versions of the organisation’s software and operating systems. It’s important to understand that your organisation’s size will factor in choosing proper technology; what works for large-scale organisations might cause problems for smaller ones.

Sharing Your Cybersecurity Plan with your Team

After your IT and management teams have devised a suitable cybersecurity plan for your business, you can discuss the best and most straightforward way to communicate this plan with your employees. Give your team the tools they will need to understand and apply their part and answer any questions they might have. By ensuring your employees have full knowledge of your organisation’s cybersecurity plan, you are establishing a solid first line of defence for your organisation.

Cybersecurity Plan Evaluation

To evaluate your cybersecurity plan, your IT team can perform authorised hacking operations. Such operations will help your IT identify existing vulnerabilities that still need modification and help the team better face continuously developing attack methods. Another method to measure the effectiveness of your cybersecurity plan is through an annual review of the number of cybersecurity attacks the organisation was able to fend off and the main vulnerabilities the hackers could exploit.

A solid cybersecurity plan will shield your organisation from possible cyberattacks. However, as the methods and tools attackers use are constantly developing, you must regularly revise your cybersecurity plan to ensure it’s up to date.