When a disaster strikes, it’s human nature to look for something or someone to blame. In most cases, in the event of a data breach, employees, shareholders, and the media are quick to point the finger at the CEO. As a CEO, you shoulder a multitude of responsibilities, including your cybersecurity.
A data breach can have extensive consequences that can cause devastating financial losses, disrupt your company’s operations, and severely damage consumers’ trust. When the media gets wind of a breach, those headlines have the potential to permanently damage your organization’s reputation, resulting in a loss of customers and giving your competitors an unfair advantage.
So how bad is a data breach, really? Well, here are some staggering statistics from the IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report for 2020:
- The average total cost of a data breach: USD 3.86 million
- Most expensive country: United States USD 8.64 million
- Most expensive industry: Healthcare USD 7.13 million
- Average time to identify and contain a breach: 280 days
Can you imagine the financial and reputational loss to your company in 280 days? It could mean a catastrophe for your company, and the plummet of the livelihoods of your employees. Today, I want to discuss the steps you should take as a CEO to prevent a lapse in security and how you can recover after a breach occurs. But before I go into that, here are a few things you should already know about cybersecurity:
- Criminals are out there looking for weak spots in your security. Breaches will occur, and when they do, they will impact your business indefinitely. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking, “It can’t happen to me,” because if you’re not prepared, it can, and it will.
- Most CEOs don’t realize that about half of data breaches originate from unauthorized access by a current employee, a former employee, or third-party suppliers.
- Maintaining government regulatory standards for information security compliance is a great start, but it is not enough to safeguard your systems, and it does not count as all-encompassing cybersecurity.
- Cyber liability insurance is a thing—and you should have it. However, I think it’s important to note that premiums are on the rise, and cyber liability insurance doesn’t always cover the total damage inflicted by a data breach.
Be Proactive About Security
In my last blog, I explained the importance of providing your employee security compliance training and keeping up with ongoing training requirements. It’s your job as CEO to mandate that all employees in your company from the top down receive thorough cybersecurity education, compliance, and awareness training. Employees need to know best practices for handling confidential information, strong password parameters, how to handle email phishing attempts, and more. Furthermore, as the CEO, it is your responsibility to empower your IT, security, and leadership teams so that they can work together and communicate efficiently regarding security mandates and company updates. Additionally, there should be added layers of information security via encryption, multi-factor authentication, and highly restricted access to your company’s most valuable information assets.
It’s not enough to just take precautions to prevent a breach. You need to make sure that you have a comprehensive plan in place because you want to be ready for a worst-case scenario. This means you need to combine managed Monitoring, Detection, and Response services with a comprehensive disaster recovery plan (DRP) and reliable data backup solutions.
Your IT team should have a software patch management program in place that will allow you to mitigate the damage as quickly as possible, should a tragedy strike. As well as having well-documented and regularly tested disaster recovery and business continuity plans to promptly salvage lost or stolen data so that you can alleviate potential damages if hackers are able to penetrate firewalls. When you have an appropriate cyber breach incident response plan in place, it should include policies and processes related to ransomware attacks as well. When you have 24/7, year-round monitoring, detection, and response capabilities for your information systems, you will be in a better position should bad actors come sniffing around in search of a vulnerability.
I’m sure you have seen the media coverage of the breaches that have taken place in large corporations over the past few years. It’s clear that there is a growing concern and demand from consumers that the safety of their personal information is handled with the utmost care. Data and privacy protection have become a societal mandate. As a leader of your organization, it is critical to be vigilant and proactive to protect and prepare for a potential breach. Being a good leader means guiding your IT, Security, and leadership teams, so they can better safeguard customer information, financial data, and classified information at every level of the company.
If you’re a CEO and still not sure where to start, you can contact an independent company to conduct a cyber risk assessment in order to pinpoint possible cracks in your company’s information security policies, processes, plans, and procedures. At ReachOut Technology, we offer all these services and more. We would be happy to partner with you and set you up for future success. Contact us today!