Cyber security is becoming an all-too-familiar topic. Businesses might think they’ve ticked the necessary boxes and done as much as possible to prevent breaches – but have they? Unless you are as motivated and diligent as the cyber criminals looking to exploit vulnerabilities wherever they can be found, you’re taking grave risks with your business’s future. A robust cyber security strategy that directs business priorities and incorporates essential 8 cyber security principles is critical.  

There are many different approaches to cyber security strategies, but if you’re serious about safeguarding digital assets and data, then a comprehensive strategy tailored to your unique business is non-negotiable. This blog will provide a template for a comprehensive cyber security strategy that’s relevant to Australian businesses with an existing strategy, or none at all. 

Cybercrime – increasing in frequency, severity and cost 

Cyber threats are increasing yearly, not just in frequency but also in sophistication and complexity. Between January and June 2023, The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC)recorded a 19% increase in cyber security incidents, with 483 primary breach notifications reported. Malicious or criminal attacks dominated as the primary cause of these breaches, accounting for 67% of incidents. The costs associated with cyber crime are also steadily increasing.  

Per incident, small businesses face average costs of over $39,000, medium businesses $88,000, and large businesses over $62,000. These costs aren’t just from downtime or loss of revenue; loss of reputation and customer trust can be the biggest and most enduring cost.  

These trends highlight the critical importance of a robust cyber security strategy that incorporates essential 8 cyber security approaches, not only to mitigate the increasing prevalence and sophistication of attacks but also to protect sensitive information in key sectors like health and finance, where the repercussions of data breaches can be particularly profound. 

Cyber threats – the many ways businesses can be targeted  

There are not just one, two, or even three ways a business can be attacked – countless avenues of vulnerability exist in your everyday business environment. Knowledge is key. Businesses familiar with the diverse nature of cyber threats are better placed to safeguard themselves.  

Australian businesses are at risk of all the following types of attacks:  

  • Phishing attacks: Deceptive emails or communications designed to steal sensitive information. 
  • Ransomware: Malware that encrypts data, demanding payment to restore access. 
  • Insider threats: Risks posed by employees or contractors misusing access to harm the organisation. 
  • DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service): Overwhelming servers with traffic to disrupt operations. 
  • Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs): Long-term, targeted attacks aiming to steal data over time. 
  • Malware and viruses: Malicious software intended to damage or disable computers and systems. 
  • Zero-day exploits: Attacks targeting software vulnerabilities before they are known or patched. 
  • Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks: Eavesdropping or intercepting between two parties to steal or manipulate data. 
  • SQL injection: Inserting malicious code into databases to access or destroy data. 
  • Cloud security threats: Risks specifically targeting cloud-based services and infrastructure. 

To ensure multifaceted cyber security defence, businesses need a comprehensive framework that builds a systematic and formalised approach to everyday cyber security. This is where a strategy is key; however, creating one is a process that requires resources, time, and careful consideration.  

Creating the right strategy for your business  

Businesses navigating the development and implementation of a cyber security strategy can often encounter a myriad of challenges that slow down or compromise the success of their strategy. Various factors can overwhelm even the most well-intentioned strategies, such as: 

  • Not fully understanding the various threats that lurk in the digital realm. 
  • Underestimating the critical necessity of establishing comprehensive security policies. 
  • The sheer complexity of maintaining a secure digital environment in an ever-evolving technological landscape.  

However, the consequences of failing to implement adequate security measures are severe and multifaceted, encompassing everything from devastating data breaches and significant financial losses to irreparable damage to a company’s reputation. Such outcomes not only affect the immediate operational capabilities of a business but can also have long-lasting impacts on customer trust and market position.  

A proactive and informed approach to cyber security is vital – and help is at hand! 

How to build a strong cyber security strategy: A template  

A successful cyber security strategy needs to bring together the following elements: 

1. Risk Assessment

A thorough assessment of potential cyber threats and vulnerabilities within the organisation forms the foundation of your cyber security strategy. A risk assessment should be objective, comprehensive and thoroughly reviewed. If one key vulnerability is missed at this early stage, there could be a gap in your entire strategy.  

It’s incredibly important to integrate essential 8 cyber security at this phase. Begin by acknowledging the essential 8 principles and ensure that your strategy covers key areas such as application whitelisting, patch applications, and restricting administrative privileges. 

2. Cyber Security Policy

Develop a clear policy that outlines the organisation’s approach to managing and protecting against cyber threats. This policy should include: 

  • Access Control: Define who has access to which data and systems, ensuring employees only have the access necessary for their role and that this is reviewed periodically. 
  • Data Protection: Detail how data is stored, transmitted, and encrypted to protect against breaches. Outline who is responsible for data protection and how training and upskilling are conducted.  
  • Incident Response Plan: Outline procedures for responding to security incidents, including immediate steps to mitigate damage and longer-term recovery plans.

3. Education and Training

Implement regular training sessions for employees to recognise and respond to cyber threats. This training should include phishing awareness, safe internet practices, and periodic incognito tests and challenges. Training and upskilling must be aligned with all stages of the employee lifecycle and reviewed frequently to stay current with the evolving threat landscape.  

4. Regular Updates and Monitoring

Establish protocols for regularly updating software and monitoring systems for suspicious activity. This activity is crucial for avoiding new vulnerabilities and should involve essential  8 cyber security methods.  

5. Third-Party Security

Many extensive and widely publicised breaches have involved third-party access to data. It’s important to be especially aware of third-party security and go above and beyond to protect this data. Businesses with third-party data at their core will find considerable value in partnering with a managed service provider for enhanced security measures and deep technical expertise. The right security MSP will leave no stone unturned to protect your business and your partner’s sensitive data.  

Bringing it all together  

Cyber security is an ever-evolving field that requires a proactive and dynamic approach to protect against digital threats.  

A comprehensive cyber security strategy involves multiple layers of protection spread across computers, networks, programs, and data, as well as strong policies to ensure the people, processes, and technology all work together to create an effective defence from cyber attacks. Though the task of building the right strategy can feel overwhelming, a strategic approach to cybersecurity that involves essential 8 cyber security helps identify potential vulnerabilities and threats and develop a robust mechanism to prevent, detect, and respond to incidents. 

Businesses should act by assessing their current security posture, identifying gaps, and prioritising actions based on the level of risk. Businesses can navigate the complex cyber security landscape more effectively by considering the strategy template outlined here as a roadmap to enhanced cyber resilience. Embracing a culture of security within your organisation and prioritising cybersecurity can help safeguard against the ever-growing array of cyber threats. 

If you’d like to learn more about VITG’s leading Security Services, you can learn more here. 

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