How to accurately gauge your cybersecurity risks

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You can’t skimp the headlines of articles written for business leaders without coming across all kinds of references to cybersecurity. At this point, it’s well known that one of the greatest risks in modern business is the potential of a data breach.

A single data breach and cost you thousands of dollars, damage your reputation and set your company’s productivity back days or even weeks. In other words, breaches hurt.

But how do you gain a better understanding of the actual risks—not just in general, but for your company? That’s what we’re going to explore in this article.

Why you need to know your cybersecurity risk

Before we get to the how-to part of this thing, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about why knowing your cybersecurity risk is important.

If you don’t know where your business faces potential exposure, it’s just about impossible to protect your data. Without some sense of your risk factors, you’re putting way too much faith blind luck. Few and far between are the SMBs that don’t experience a cyber attack.

On the other hand, if you know the risks, you’re set up to take preventative action to keep your data safe.

“Cybersecurity is now simply one the many realities of doing business today. You should know the risks, and put programs in place that will help you avoid getting hit by cyberattacks down the line.” – CIO

What it means to know your cybersecurity risk

Cybersecurity risk is, at best, a vague concept. You can know the areas where you need to boost your protection (that’s what this article will help you identify), but it’s difficult to put a number to cybersecurity risk. That’s because cybercriminals are always changing the very nature of the game.

Cybersecurity experts find ways to provide better protection, and cybercriminals find ways to get past those new safeguards. Rinse and repeat.

As a business owner, what you need to know is the general types of cyber risk you’ve taken on so that you can be attentive to those areas of the business and ensure adequate protection where it’s needed most.

How you can gauge your cybersecurity risk

There are 5 specific we recommend that can help flesh out your individual cybersecurity risk. Some of these you can do entirely on your own.

All of them will yield better results and fuller information if you partner with a cybersecurity expert but make no mistake. It’s far better to do what you can on your own than to do nothing.

Testing. Lots and lots of testing.

There are multiple types of tests that can shed light on your current cybersecurity risk. Penetration testing, phishing tests and web app testing are three of the most common forms of cybersecurity testing.

While you could do (in theory) any of these on your own, we definitely recommend a cybersecurity consultant for the best possible results.

Related: How proactive cyber detectives do pen testing

Review your incident response plan

An incident response plan is basically your what-if contingency plan. If the worst happens and you suffer a breach, what happens next? Your incident response plan goes into effect.

If you don’t have one, then your risk is considerably higher. This indicates an overall lack of preparation. If you have one, consider the kinds of potential breaches you’ve already planned for. If you planned well, those will correlate with the kinds of cybersecurity risks that are most dangerous for you.

Train your people

Employee training is essential for boosting cybersecurity, but it’s also a good way to gauge your current risk. Are your employees already well-prepared? Do they take cybersecurity training seriously? Are they committed to helping protect the company?

If so, then you’re already well on your way to closing one of the biggest possible gaps—human error. If not, your own staff pose a significant increased risk.

“People are the primary attack vector, and only become the weakest link when security professionals fail to adequately train them.” – TechRepublic

Stay plugged in with industry-specific resources

Industry-specific networking groups and periodicals published specifically for your vertical are both great resources for better understanding how the type of business you do is affected by cyber risk. Some verticals are just more open to attack than others.

If you’re not already keeping up with industry-specific news, you should address that right away.

Maintain open communications and invite constant feedback

Cyber risk is an uncomfortable topic. As a result, some business leaders flinch at the idea of inviting feedback about their security. We encourage you to be open to that kind of feedback.

If customers, employees or even your competitors point out a possible risk, pay attention. Don’t just dismiss the comments. Dig in and see if there’s any merit to the observation. If so, take the necessary steps to make your protection better.

Keep reading: The digital detective’s guide to measuring your company’s cybersecurity risk

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