Cybersecurity has become a significant issue in today’s digital world. Cases of phishing attacks, ransomware attacks, and data breaches have become increasingly common.
In 2023, experts estimate the cost of cybercrime to cross the USD$8-trillion mark. This rise in cybercrime can be attributed to remote work, increased technology usage, and inadequate security measures. They open more entry points that cybercriminals can use to access sensitive data.
Any organization must have a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy and plan to identify and address security gaps in its systems. These strategies can protect the business against costly breaches, help to gain customer trust, increase employee confidence, and improve compliance with regulatory requirements.
Here’s a guide on identifying and addressing cybersecurity gaps in business.
Best Ways To Find Gaps In Cybersecurity
Finding gaps in your cybersecurity is essential to staying ahead of cybercriminals. Most importantly, you also protect your business against any potential business threat. With an estimated 14% rise in average cybercrime costs, gaps can prove costly if addressed for a long time.
Here are some tips for finding any security gaps:
1. Perform a Risk Assessment
A risk assessment involves looking at all aspects of your organization’s IT infrastructure and identifying any weak points that hackers could exploit. It could include conducting internal security reviews, using external vulnerability scanning tools, or hiring third-party experts to evaluate the system.
When performing a risk assessment for your network, use the following steps:
- Determine the scope of the risk assessment: The scope of the risk assessment refers to areas of your organization you must evaluate. It can be the whole organization, a business unit, or specific parts of your network. Part of the scope to be assessed also includes the impact and tolerance level of the threat.
- Identify assets: Primary components of the IT infrastructure, such as databases, servers, applications, and networks, could be affected by any attack. As such, you need to know what assets are vulnerable or not. You should also identify what employees are at risk, such as those working remotely, as the company’s security system doesn’t cover them.
- Identify potential threats: The next step is identifying the types of threats that could target your systems. These threats can be internal (employees forgetting to log out or sharing confidential information) or external (ransomware or DDoS attacks). You can get the information from previous attacks or consulting security experts.
- Determine impact: Once you’ve identified the threats, assess the potential impact on your system. This helps you understand how an attack could affect the organization and prioritize which areas require more attention. You can categorize the threats into low, medium, and high risk. You must always prioritize and address high risks as early as possible.
- Prioritize risks: Once you’ve identified the potential threats and their impacts, prioritize them based on their likelihood of occurring. Identifying these threats helps you focus your security efforts on areas that require immediate attention. You can use the five-by-five risk matrix, where you look at the likelihood and impact of each risk and assign it a value between and five. The risks with higher values require more attention.
Work closely with your IT department or an IT service provider when you develop a risk assessment.
2. Conduct Vulnerability Scanning
Vulnerability scanning is a way to identify any potential weaknesses in the system that hackers exploit. They scan for open ports, malware infections, misconfigurations, outdated systems, and internal risks. One of the best ways to conduct a vulnerability scan is through penetration testing.
Penetration testing involves testing the security of networks and systems by giving testers the privilege to attack the system. You can provide different levels of access to your organization’s systems so they can determine its security. This helps to identify any potential flaws that hackers can use for malicious purposes.
There are different types of vulnerability scans that you can test on your network, such as:
- Network vulnerability: These scans look for potential vulnerabilities in the network and provide an overview of what hackers could exploit. The scan includes the network, devices such as routers, firewalls, servers, and communication channels.
- Wireless based: These scans identify any weaknesses in the wireless network that hackers can exploit. They include the wireless LAN, access points, and device configurations.
- Application based: These scans look for any potential flaws in the applications running on the server. They include identifying weak passwords, open ports, and other security vulnerabilities.
- Host-based vulnerability: Many often confuse these scans with network scans. However, it involves testing the host configurations, memory settings, and other network information found on the host.
Identifying vulnerabilities in your network and system can help you find and address gaps before they compromise your data.
3. Monitor Network Activity
Another way to find gaps in your cybersecurity is by monitoring the activity on your network. This includes keeping an eye out for unusual activity, such as unauthorized access attempts, suspicious downloads, and changes in user behavior.
Reviewing network logs regularly is essential, as this will help you quickly identify any malicious behavior and take appropriate action. You can also use tools such as Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS) or Network Access Control (NAC) to ensure that only authorized users access the system.
How To Address Cybersecurity Gaps
Addressing cybersecurity gaps can include different strategies and tactics to strengthen your systems’ security. Take a look at these strategies you can adopt:
1. Implementing Security Policies and Procedures
The first step to addressing cybersecurity gaps is implementing comprehensive security policies and procedures. These policies should guide what users can and can’t do. Here are some you should implement:
Access controls regulate which users can access certain areas and data. For example, top-level management can access sensitive information, while lower-level staff can access general information. This is done by implementing authentication methods, such as two-factor authentication (2FA) or multi-factor authentication (MFA).
Data encryption is a secure way to protect data that hackers could use. It ensures that authorized users cannot read the data unless decrypted. Encryption also makes it harder for hackers to access the data, as they need a decryption key.
Create A Password Policy
Password policies help ensure that all users use strong passwords to access the system. This includes setting minimum password lengths, enforcing the use of complex passwords with special characters, and setting time limits on resetting passwords. When employees have a secure password policy, it reduces the chances of a hacker gaining access to the system.
2. Investing in Security Software
Investing in security software can also help address cybersecurity gaps. These tools act as an extra layer of protection. They can detect malicious activity before it can cause any damage. Firewalls are one of the most common security tools, as they can monitor traffic and block suspicious activity.
Antivirus software is also essential as it helps protect against malware and malicious programs. This type of software runs regularly and scans for threats or viruses on the system. They can alert users when they detect something suspicious and help protect the system from further damage.
Additionally, you should invest in a virtual private network (VPN) to secure all data transmitted over the internet. A VPN can help protect your system from hackers and other cyber-criminals. It also prevents employees from accessing sensitive data when outside the office.
3. Regularly Train Your Employees
Employees can be the easier target for hackers, especially those working remotely, as the company’s security system doesn’t cover them. Therefore, you must secure they have the best training on the threats they’re likely to face, activities that may put them at risk, and how best to prevent such threats.
These measures include educating them on identifying suspicious activity, securing passwords, and using access controls. Additionally, it’s crucial to ensure that all users know how to report suspicious activity or breaches.
Training your employees on security protocols ensures your team understands their role in protecting and addressing all gaps in your system. You also equip them with the knowledge to identify any weaknesses in the system, and raising alarms in time can help you improve.
4. Solve The IT Skill Gap
The need for trained professionals has also increased as the IT space grows and changes. Focusing on acquiring and retaining talented IT staff is critical. As such, you have a team that can handle the latest security threats. This includes implementing effective training and development programs and recruiting qualified personnel to fill any gaps in your team.
If your organization is short on staff in the IT department at any point, you should cover the gap as soon as possible. You must have all your best resources to monitor, correct, and improve your security system. Failure to replace or have enough staff in your security department could increase risks to your system.
Finding and addressing cybersecurity gaps is essential for any organization that wants to protect its data and systems. You can ensure your company is secure by understanding the risks, investing in security software, regularly training employees, and focusing on IT skills gaps.