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10 Ways You Could Be Inviting a Cybersecurity Attack

In the business world, cybersecurity is many times misunderstood. It’s often left as an afterthought for the IT team to handle,, rather than a competitive differentiator and business enabler. If your security and IT teams want to change this unproductive mindset, you need to talk to the business team using their own language instead of getting bogged down in technical details.

The truth is, good cybersecurity requires both IT and business teams to find common ground to prevent opening themselves up to the tactics of threat actors. It needs a multi-layered approach (Known as defense in depth). Unless IT and non-IT executives find common ground to work from, the likelihood of a successful attack goes up exponentially.

The surprising thing is that critical issues that expose an organization to risk are not always technical. They are often the result of human error or poor decision-making. Systemic and cultural problems are primarily to blame for the rise in attacks.

In this article, we will explore 10 ways your organization could be inviting a cybersecurity attack.

#1: Unintended Risks

Businesses make decisions every day that can impact their cybersecurity without even realizing it. For example: when businesses purchase new technology without fully understanding how it works or what risks it could potentially introduce to the business. 

These impulsive decisions can have unintended consequences down the line due to the false sense of security they create.

Solution: Involve the right people in the decision-making processes to help guide your strategy and selection to avoid introducing unintended risks to the business.

#2: Vague & Undefined Risk Appetite Statements

Risk tolerance statements should be designed to guide the actions of all decision-makers in the organization.

Without a well-defined risk tolerance statement, businesses are more likely to take on too much risk and make poor decisions. Also, employees will not know what is and is not acceptable behavior, which can lead to them making careless mistakes.

Solution: Work with your leadership team to develop a clear and concise risk tolerance statement that allows acceptance of risk within specific parameters.

#3: Cultural Disconnect

There is often a disconnect between the IT team and the leadership of the organization. This can be due to a lack of understanding of the technical aspects of cybersecurity or a belief that security is not a part of the business.

Such disconnect can create an environment where cybersecurity is not taken seriously and decisions are made without considering the potential risks. It can also lead to a situation where security teams are not given the resources they need to effectively secure the network.

For example, a business leader might decide to cut corners on security in order to save money, not realizing that this could expose the organization to greater risk.

Solution: Improve communication and collaboration between the IT security team and the leadership of the organization. When everyone is on the same page, it gets easier to make decisions that take into account the potential risks and benefits.

#4: Lack of Strategy

Too often, businesses focus on compliance without developing a comprehensive security strategy and considering the true risks they face.

A security strategy should be proactive, not reactive. It should be based on an understanding of the unique risks your organization faces and how to mitigate them.

A lack of strategy can lead to two major problems: first, businesses may not invest in the right security solutions; and second, they may not have the right processes and procedures in place to effectively respond to an attack.

Solution: Develop a comprehensive security strategy that takes into account the unique risks your organization faces. Leverage the experience of service providers who build holistic strategies that are right-sized for your risk tolerance and corporate culture.

#5: Wasting Money on the Problem

They say you can’t overspend when it comes to cybersecurity, but it’s always important to allocate budget towards initiatives that will move the business forward, not load it up with shelfware from misguided strategies.

Many businesses make the mistake of thinking that they can simply buy their way out of trouble. They invest in the latest and greatest security solutions without considering whether they will actually work for their organization.

This can lead to two major problems: 

1) The business ends up wasting money on security solutions that don’t actually solve the problem.

2) There is no clear ROI on the security investment, making it difficult to justify further spending and/or get buy-in from leadership.

Solution: Make sure your cybersecurity strategy begins with assessing current technologies, validating their importance in the ecosystem, and ensure they are configured correctly to optimize their impact on your security posture.

#6: Making Security Decisions in a Bubble

Security decisions should always be made with business outcomes in mind.

Often security decisions are made by a small group without input of critical stakeholders. This leads to a misalignment between security objectives and business goals.

For example, a security leader might make a decision that improves security but makes it harder for employees to do their jobs. They may also implement a solution that is too complex for the organization to manage.

Making decisions in a bubble can lead to security teams focusing only on meeting their own goals rather than using business goals as a guiding force.

Solution: Focus on solutions that are aligned with business goals. Involve stakeholders from across the organization in the decision-making process.

#7: Broken Accountability

Accountability is broken in some organizations. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as a lack of communication between the security team and the key stakeholders. It can also happen when the security team is not given the resources they need to do their job.

Without accountability, your business can lack ownership over security decisions, transparency in the decision-making process, and a culture of trust within the security team..

There has to be a balance between the need to protect the organization and the need to run smooth business operations. Both security and business stakeholders need to be involved in the decision-making process.

Solution: Ensure that accountability is built into the security program. Collaboration between security and the business needs to start early and have key stakeholders ensuring open communication.

#8: No Employee Training

Without investing in employee training, you are leaving your organization exposed to a number of risks.

Employees are often the weakest link in the security chain. They may not be aware of the latest threats or how to protect themselves from them. They hold the keys to the kingdom and if they are not properly trained, they could unintentionally give attackers access to sensitive data.

For instance, phishing attacks are on the rise, and many employees are not aware of how to spot them. As a result, they may click on a malicious link or open attachments without realizing it.

Investing in employee training is one of the best ways to mitigate the risk posed by employees. It is also one of the most important investments you can make in the security of your organization.

Solution: Implement a comprehensive employee training program that covers all aspects of security, from awareness basics to the latest cybersecurity threats.

#9: Poor Transparency & Information Sharing

If a company’s board and its senior executives brush over the fact that security is not in place, the room to discuss how it can be improved is limited.

Only when the security flaws are acknowledged will the company be able to work on fixing them.

Many organizations lack transparency when it comes to security. They may not want to admit that they have a problem or they may not want to share information about their security posture with those that can help.

This lack of transparency can lead to a number of problems, such as a lack of trust from customers and partners, a lack of accountability, and a feeling that the organization is not serious about security.

Solution: Non-security executives should be willing to listen and discuss information about the organization’s security posture from their security teams and many times can validate it with a third party service provider.

#10: Unreasonable Burden of Social Expectations

When a security incident occurs at an organization, the first thing that people want to know is how it happened. 

However, in many cases, the root cause of a security incident is not immediately apparent or as simple as it seems. There may be a number of factors that contributed to the incident, and it is often difficult to determine who or what is to blame.

This can lead to a lot of finger-pointing and blame-shifting, which can make it difficult to find a solution.

Solution: Talk about security in terms of business outcomes instead of technologies. This will help to change the conversation from one of scapegoating to one of finding solutions.

Concluding Thoughts

Security is a complex issue and there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Organizations need to carefully consider their cybersecurity strategy to make sure that they have the right mix of people, processes, and technologies in place to protect their data.