6 questions that will enable business executives to gain an edge in cybersecurity

Blog by: ManageEngine | Manish Mandal

With the world embracing digital transformation, one of the sure-shot ways for an organization to gain an unfair advantage would be maximizing its digital footprint. Businesses have every right to ride the wave of the IT boom of the last few years and its mass byproducts—digital collaboration and hybrid work. But how prepared is every business to face the wrath of the inevitable: the ever-increasing occurrence and variety of cyberattacks?

If 2022 has taught us anything, it’s that stellar growth often comes with a hefty price tag (especially when its unregulated) in the form of corporate breaches—be it ransomware or cyber warfare. From Colonial pipeline to the Uber, even the most influential companies fall victim to digital threats. Although there isn’t a single solution to protect against all cyberthreats, changing how businesses conceptualize and address cybersecurity will help keep cyberthreats at bay.. And change for many businesses, irrespective of its scale, needs to start from the top. It’s time for business executives to play a more proactive role and rethink the way cybersecurity—from planning to execution—is handled in any organization.

Cybersecurity is for security teams. Why should I care?

Failure to implement necessary endpoint security practices can inflict any business more damage than one can anticipate. Along with their reputation being tarnished, companies that have been a victim to attacks face financial losses. When reacting to an attack, companies lose precious time and resources which could have been otherwise used for something productive, like innovation or going green. Succumbing to a cyberattack also conveys the organization’s failure to keep up with regulations, which in turn sows the seeds of distrust among its customers; something that is usually hard to reclaim.

Key questions that C-level executives need to ask to stay fully informed on their organizations’ cybersecurity practices

How many of our IT assets are exposed?

As discussed earlier, it is natural to piggy-back on digital transformation and rapidly expand the hardware count (mobile devices, laptops, etc.) in your organization. This can lead to an enlarged attack surface since you have multiple endpoints that are potentially entry points for cyberthreats. Should that deter your organization from expanding? We’d say no. Instead, it’s advisable to have an idea of how many of your assets have been exposed to the internet so that when you face an attack, you’re well-prepared to measure the extent of the threat and take remediation measures as quickly as possible. Simply put: it’s hard to secure something if you don’t know it exists in the first place.

How (or how well) are these assets protected against external threats?

The next step would be to decide the protective measures that you need to deploy based on your organization’s needs. This includes detailing a list of preventive measures to counter the surge of threats. This list usually entails the combination of security components, policies, and provisions that address your organization’s risk management and keeps tabs on all laptops, desktops, mobile devices, IoT devices, wearables, and various point-of-sale devices round the clock.

What does our security perimeter look like?

For any cyber-preparedness strategy to work, a layered security approach is a must. Every defensive layer that is deployed serves a unique purpose geared towards countering a specific threat. These layers might include implementing firewalls, enabling Zero Trust, installing intrusion detection systems, deploying threat prevention systems, and enforcing multi-factor authentication. When it comes to a security perimeter, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach and it varies with every organization.

How can I stay on top of all alerts pertaining to various threats and vulnerabilities?

A cyber protection policy is incomplete without any alert mechanism to capture most (if not all) threats. It is advisable to implement a way to scan, detect, and measure vulnerabilities and threats in real time to get a complete grasp over your endpoint resilience strategy. If you ever feel that there’s a knowledge gap, it’s never too late to reassess and fine-tune your threat detection measures.

Do you have an incident response plan in place?

Even if you do, it’s time to see the fineprint. An incident response plan acts as a guidebook for a cyber crisis and details the steps required to meet any business policy. Some of the core constituents of any incident response plan include: proactive measures, transparency, collaboration, the ability to rebound from a crisis, analyzing the learning outcomes, and continuously improving your cyber preparedness.

How should I allocate my resources in fighting cyberattacks?

It’s essential to consider your boardroom budget. Though cybersecurity is a never-ending process, it’s important to be well-aware of financial cutbacks or cultural push-backs. No matter how much you allocate towards bringing in talented personnel and getting the newest security products, you can never guarantee zero incidents. What you can guarantee is the judicious use of corporate resources to foster an in-dept understanding of how IT security behaves in your organization, as well as understand the stance you need to take in specific scenarios. For example, if you’re under a ransomware attack, do you pay the ransom? It is advisable to sit with the security team, understand the implications, and devise strategies to answer these questions.

This article is based on an ebook  by ManageEngine’s Unified Management and Security team that details an executive’s guide to overcoming endpoint security challenges.