In this article, we’ll explore the steps your company should take to mitigate the risk of cyberattacks and fully protect your software systems when cooperating with an external IT or software development provider.
Cybercrime is rampant nowadays. According to Juniper Research, the amount of losses incurred by businesses as a result of cyberattacks and data breaches in 2019 exceeds $2 trillion and is expected to grow to more than $5 trillion by 2024. Although many small and mid-sized businesses still tend to underestimate the existing cybersecurity risks, the recent cybercrime statistics show they should be as concerned as their larger-sized peers. In 2017, half of all cyberattacks were launched against businesses that employ less than 1,000 people.
With these ominous stats in mind, how should you go about securing your business against the ever more insidious cyber threats if your IT department doesn’t have enough IT risk management experience?
First of all, you should take a comprehensive approach by addressing the possible cybersecurity gaps within all of the areas that make up your company’s IT security environment. You should anticipate cyberattacks proactively, be aware of how the main types of cyberattacks and risks should be prevented or dealt with, and update your security system on a regular basis, so as to enable it to stave off a cyberattack at any point in time.
Now let’s review the five main steps you should take to protect your business from cyberattacks:
1. Define a Multi-Faceted Information Security Framework
As strange as it may seem, in most cases a company’s IT security kicks off with people and the way they behave rather than with the technologies themselves. To illustrate, in 2016, 90% of security breaches were attributable to employees unwittingly sharing sensitive information with hackers. Because of this, you should start by defining security guidelines to be stringently followed by all your employees. These guidelines should include:
- An efficient data protection policy, detailing how corporate and client data must be protected. More specifically, this includes:
- IPSec encryption of all network traffic.
- Hard drive encryption of workstations and server environments.
- A portable devices usage policy, aimed at minimizing the amount of sensitive data on laptops, mobile devices, and tablets and stating that all portable devices used for corporate purposes must be encrypted.
- Instructions on how to recognize suspicious emails that include attachments with infected files and potentially detrimental social media posts. Social media networks can be used by hackers for malvertising, disseminating cryptomining malware, and for phishing purposes.
- A password policy, detailing how corporate passwords must be composed by your employees. For instance, a secure password must contain no less than 10 characters and must include upper- and lower-case letters, digits, and other symbols. It’s also recommended to require all employees to use a two-factor authentication process for both entering their work computers and the company’s online information repositories. And, of course, your corporate Wi-Fi networks must also be password-protected.
- Well-established incident management procedures outlining the steps that should be taken if and when a security breach occurs.
- A user clearance-related policy (the least privileges principle), aimed at reducing the number of users whose system accounts can be used to access sensitive corporate information.
- A software acceptable use policy, limiting the number of company employees authorized to deploy software on your corporate computers (in particular, this can help prevent adware from being installed on your machines).
2. Use Antivirus Software and Anti-Malware
It goes without saying that all your computers must have antivirus software installed on them.
However, in addition to the more widely known antivirus software, there are several more technical means of protecting your IT apps against cyberattacks. In particular, they can include:
- Email scanning – using email services with in-built antivirus software and spam protection filters to detect email attachments with infected files.
- Firewalls – firewalls can detect the IP addresses of suspicious traffic and close the ports that can be utilized by this traffic for malicious attacks.
- Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) and Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS) – IDS are intended to detect unauthorized access to a computer system or other unauthorized attempts to manipulate the system. To enable this, an IPS applies various alert-filtering methods to data received from multiple sources, notifying the system administrator if the threat appears to be real.
IDS are capable of detecting a cyberattack at a very early stage and are able to suppress the attack by running a predefined script or terminating the connection.
3. Maintain the Security of Your IT Infrastructure
Keeping your IT security system up-to-date is vital to any corporate IT infrastructure. As cyber threats constantly evolve, your IT security system must always be immediately updated with the most recent definitions and software updates. Make sure that the threat and vulnerability alerts, published by the providers of your software, are constantly monitored by your IT employees. Furthermore, it’s important to re-classify all your IT assets at reasonable intervals and assign them with the corresponding security levels to ensure these assets are attended to with adequate frequency. Your IT security system should also be tested frequently.
4. Ensure System Resiliency
No matter how sophisticated your IT security system is, you must also have robust backup and recovery procedures in place. If a successful ransomware attack on your applications does occur, this will help you avoid costly downtime.
5. Minimize Cybersecurity Risks When Outsourcing
We’ve reviewed the more common cybersecurity measures that need to be taken in order to prevent cyberattacks that can potentially be launched on your corporate IT systems. However, there are also situations when the security of an IT system is extremely difficult to maintain due to the involvement of an external IT or software development provider.
What is the best way to keep your IT system fully secure if it’s under development and needs to be accessed by a third party?
One of our key recommendations is to avoid a cross-border data transfer in its entirety by using a remote desktop. We understand this may cause concerns about latency-related problems. However, from our experience working with clients in other countries, including overseas locations, we’ve found that latency issues can be completely resolved by trying different ISP routes and finding one that eliminates the existing latency.
The Bottom Line
Ensuring cybersecurity of a business takes a comprehensive approach and in-depth knowledge of the many mission-critical nuances involved.
TEAM International employs high-caliber cybersecurity experts with a wealth of experience in comprehensively securing computer networks against the full range of cyber risks, including those associated with IT outsourcing. We stay on the leading edge of cybersecurity innovation and regularly engage in advanced research related to these issues.
In addition, TEAM International’s software development practices are versed in securing complex client business applications, including enterprise applications, against cybersecurity risks they can otherwise be exposed to.
If you’re looking to develop a software application that requires a high level of cybersecurity, contact us today and tell us about your project.