Leveraging technology and training to prevent cyber threats.

Building a seamless cybersecurity policy from the ground up can be a daunting task. From identifying your company security pressure points and balancing the ever-changing threat of hackers and cybercrime to educating your employees on the evolving best practices impacting their day-to-day workflow, the process of creating an effective cybersecurity policy can very quickly drive a person mad.

Long gone are the days where someone from the local big box tech store came by, installed an antivirus on a few PCs at the office, and called it a day. Today, when the workforce is often dispersed far beyond the constraints of the office walls the equation for cybersecurity is a bit more nuanced.

More so than ever before new technological, social, and security factors must be weighed to determine what are the best practices for ensuring your company is set up to weather the storm and grow beyond any cyber-attack that could come it’s way.

In this section, we will outline some of the most important factors to consider in creating the best bespoke cybersecurity plan for your municipality. From clearly identifying malware pressure points, -like the email gateway-, or preventing unauthorized access to secure files, this blog will define what steps can be taken to build the best cybersecurity to protect your assets and employers from hackers and malware.

Understanding the needs of your municipality

Every municipality is unique, and as a result, there is no cookie-cutter policy that will comprehensively cover all your cybersecurity needs, off the shelf. With that said, curating the best cybersecurity policy to fit your companies needs does not have to be a tedious process. It can be as simple as:

1) Reviewing cybersecurity pressure points/ weak points in your current system

2) Implementing legacy cybersecurity systems

3) Strengthening email security

4) Have a competent IT Team

5) Train your team

Understanding your system’s weak points are essential to forming a holistic cybersecurity policy that fits your team. While each business has its pressure points here are a few of the most important factors to consider when optimizing your cybersecurity policy.

Are your legacy security systems up to date?

  • According to ZDnet “Around 55 percent of software installed on PCs across the globe is in the form of an older version of the application, according to Avast. Based upon anonymized and aggregated data from 163 million devices around the world, Avast’s PC trends report also suggests that almost one in six Windows 7 users and one in ten Windows 10 users are running out-of-date versions of their operating system, also leaving them open to exploitation of system-level security vulnerabilities.”

Legacy cybersecurity platforms provide significant protection only if their definitions are up to date. Lapses in updates, incomplete malware directories, or unpatched OS often leave critical systems unnecessarily vulnerable to attacks and data loss. By actively updating technologies with a proven record of preventing cyber-attacks, IT teams can focus their attention on filling the security gaps and improving cybersecurity awareness.

What is your current level of email security?

  • According to The Verizon 2020 Data Breach Report: “94% of malware attacks occur through email with nearly 25% of the data breaches the company studied over the past year involved phishing.”
  • According to the State of Cyber Security 2019: “email security and employee training are the top challenges faced by information technology (IT) security professionals.”

As the most impactful channel for malware infiltration, the email gateway must be robustly secured. By controlling the flow of permitted files, integrating multiple layers of malware defense, and limiting admin access, users decrease their risk of downloading malicious content.

How competent is your IT Team?

  • According to Security Boulevard: “60 percent of breaches involved vulnerabilities for which a patch was available but not applied. Despite a 24% average increase in annual spending on prevention, detection, and remediation, data silos and poor organizational coordination delay the patching of known flaws by an average of 12 days. The average timeline to patch the most critical vulnerabilities in 16 days.”
  • According to IBM: “it now takes companies on average security as it occurs. Additionally, it can take up to another 69 days to contain it.”

IT teams set the tone and protections for your cybersecurity outlook. As such, selecting a well-trained, and proactive in-house or external IT solutions provider is essential to keeping your business protected from any avoidable cyber risk.

How often do you train your team on best practices?

  • According to Entrepreneur: “Almost 90% of the data breaches are caused by human errors, reinforcing the need for continuous employee education on cybersecurity. People can be considered as the weakest link in any organization’s cybersecurity defenses.”

You are only as strong as your weakest link, and that is even more true when it comes to cybersecurity.

By providing the time and resources needed to train employees on best practices for downloading and sharing data within your secure network, individuals stand to dramatically decrease their risk of causing a system breach or major hacking event.

Employee training does not have to be tedious. It could be as easy as having a weekly talk with the IT team, setting up a quarterly webinar about recent cyber threats, or sending out a regular email listing pro tips to avoid downloading malware. The point is to promote conscious awareness about cybersecurity and instill a heightened understanding of the threats that could impact work as usual.

What to do now?

Building a cybersecurity policy that meets your needs can range from deciding which technologies to implement, who will be implementing them, to the extent of security defenses that can be realistically on-boarded based on budget. As a result, building a cyber policy requires some time and planning but when done right it can ensure long-term safety for your municipality, data, and assets.