The role of any leader in an organization is to ensure business continuity and limit risk to the organization and its mission, and its customers and employees. Any disruption to the business can cause a loss in revenue, reputation, or potentially harm to its employees or customers. In today’s next-generation economy, if a business embraces any form of electronic commerce – anything from payroll to online services – there is a real threat for business leaders that should not be ignored. If your business is heavily invested in technology to operate, it is simply foolish not to consider improving your cyber defenses, even if they are a near zero cost investment.
Inexpensive Investments to Improve Cyber Defense
Improving cyber defense does not have to be an expensive investment in order to make sure your organization does not fall victim to any one of these modern disruptions. Consider the following as low-cost examples:
- Education and implementation of secure password policies including acceptable usage (i.e. complexity and no password re-use)
- Enabling automatic update on all workstations and mobile devices to automatically install security patches when an investment in a vulnerability management and patch management solution is not feasible
- Budgeting and replacing end of life equipment such as Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP to ensure a safe computing environment
- Enhancing basic Windows Group Policy with best practice settings for session timeout, and requiring periodic password changes
- Removing unnecessary administrator rights from all workstations and servers
- Changing all default passwords so threat actors cannot guess them based on dictionary attacks
… And, there are so many more.
Outside of investing in new tools and replacing old equipment, no business leader should ignore improving cyber defenses. Minimal time, basic policies, and simple education can stop the easiest of attacks and potentially keep your business off the front page of a newspaper.
Answering the “What if’s”
For those business leaders that will ignore even this basic advice, respectfully I would kindly ask them to consider the alternatives and play a simple what if scenario game. What if:
- What if you do not improve your security posture?
- What if you are breached and sensitive data is stolen?
- Who will be accountable?
- Who will be hurt by an incident?
- Who could lose their job?
- Could someone even potentially lose their life?
The answers to these questions should not come as a surprise, and if your business involves ICS, SCADA, or other CI (critical infrastructure), a breach could cost someone their life if machinery or equipment is tampered with.
The “What if” questions are a derivative of a simple SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Threat) assessment regarding the cybersecurity posture of your business. If you still need convincing, ask your leaders to complete this table:
What protection do you have in place that is working well?
What are you trying to protection against?
How do others view protection strengths?
What threat detection could you improve?
Where are there gaps in your threat detection?
How do others view your weaknesses?
What changes can you make to protect against threats better?
What trends in threat prevention can you take advantage of?
How can you take your threat detection strengths and turn them into opportunities?
What external threats are you worried about and can harm your organization?
What are your peers and competitors doing?
What threats do your weakness mean to the organization?
In the end, I would challenge any business leader to say that what they are doing is good enough today, and there is no room for improvement. Push back may be due to cost, ignorance, arrogance, or any number of human traits. That is simply not good enough when the basic tasks would be simple to implement and have a high value in protecting an organization even when funds are not available. There is always room for improvement – especially in cybersecurity at home and in business.
If you'd like a cybersecurity strategy session, please contact us.
Morey J. Haber, Chief Security Advisor
Morey J. Haber is the Chief Security Advisor at BeyondTrust. As the Chief Security Advisor, Morey is the lead identity and technical evangelist at BeyondTrust. He has more than 25 years of IT industry experience and has authored four books: Privileged Attack Vectors, Asset Attack Vectors, Identity Attack Vectors, and Cloud Attack Vectors. Morey has previously served as BeyondTrust’s Chief Security Officer, Chief Technology, and Vice President of Product Management during his nearly 12 year tenure. In 2020, Morey was elected to the Identity Defined Security Alliance (IDSA) Executive Advisory Board, assisting the corporate community with identity security best practices. He originally joined BeyondTrust in 2012 as a part of the acquisition of eEye Digital Security, where he served as a Product Owner and Solutions Engineer, since 2004. Prior to eEye, he was Beta Development Manager for Computer Associates, Inc. He began his career as Reliability and Maintainability Engineer for a government contractor building flight and training simulators. Morey earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.