Consider it a war that’s been fought since long before the .Com Boom — cybercriminals vs. the network security of countless organizations.
As long as there’s a network of computers containing sensitive or private information, there’s likely someone interested in accessing that data illegally.
Cybersecurity breaches aren’t always the result of a hacker’s brute-force attack. In many cases, those with less-than-good intentions easily access a network because of wide-open gaps that have gone unnoticed — and they’re not always your fault.
Addressing shortcomings in a cybersecurity framework — whether a material weakness or a long-neglected oversight — requires understanding what’s deficient to begin with and taking immediate action.
5 Common Cybersecurity Gaps & How to Close Them
Weaknesses in a network’s protective measures take many forms, all of which are an open invitation to a hacker.
Some of the most common — and most costly — gaps include:
- Weak protocols against phishing scams
- Not understanding risk(s)
- Inherited insufficiencies
- Untrained staff
- An ineffective cybersecurity provider
Cybersecurity Gap #1: Weak Protocols Against Phishing Scams
How this happens: Ever get an email from what appears to be a trustworthy sender urging you to log in to what appears to be a legitimate site? That’s the face of a phishing scam, in which a hacker attempts to trick you into giving them your username and password. Emails like that are sent every day — just check your spam folder; there’s sure to be a couple. It’s only become trickier to distinguish between a genuine email and a phishing scam — fake emails and websites sent by hackers are looking more and more legitimate these days.
Closing the gap: A healthy level of skepticism goes a long way in avoiding a phishing scam’s latest bait. If an email seems suspicious, it probably is. Reaching out to your security or IT department is an easy way to test the email’s authenticity. It’s also a good idea to institute internal policies that prohibit co-workers from requesting login information via email — consider it an analog filter against potential attacks.
Cybersecurity Gap #2: Not Understanding Risk(s)
How this happens: You don’t know what you don’t know. Sometimes, ignorance isn’t bliss. Cyber threats are constantly evolving and changing, and keeping pace with them may seem like a full-time job. Not fully understanding the risks can mean trouble. Without a firm grasp of the cyber threats facing your organization, the solution you implement might not be enough to close access points to your network data.
Closing the gap: Enlisting the services of a cyber protection team or professionals helps your organization keep pace with the latest threats. You can’t spend your entire 9-5 learning about the latest tactics hackers employ and ways to mitigate those risks. A cybersecurity firm with threat intelligence can and does. With a cybersecurity protection team or professional in your corner, you can rest easier knowing that your digital assets are always under someone’s watch.
Cybersecurity Gap #3: Inherited Insufficiencies
How this happens: Cyber defense weaknesses aren’t always the result of your company failing to stay on top of the latest threats. For instance, a company you purchase or partner with may not have placed priority on shoring up its cyber defenses. Gaps in their cybersecurity can translate to open paths to your network and its defenses.
Closing the gap: A deep-dive audit by a cybersecurity expert before taking over a company or partnering with another is critical to understanding what you’re getting into and any potential issues. Investing the time for an unbiased review of an outside organization’s cybersecurity measures saves you from costly breaches — and headaches — later.
Cybersecurity Gap #4: Untrained Staff
How this happens: One of the biggest gaps at any organization — be it a Fortune 500 company or a community college — is employees who aren’t well-versed in basic cybersecurity practices. Hackers and cybercriminals look for low-hanging fruit, and employees who don’t know any better are easy targets. Phishing scams, clickjacking, and weak password cracking are some of the oldest tricks in a hacker’s playbook — because they continue to work on the unsuspecting.
Closing the gap: Company-wide cybersecurity training saves your site from becoming a cybercriminal’s latest victim through a base-level attack. Implementing and enforcing a strong set of cybersecurity policies also helps keep employees operating within safe parameters.
Cybersecurity Gap #5: An Ineffective Cybersecurity Provider
How this happens: There’s nothing worse than paying an expensive car repair bill, only to discover the issue wasn’t fixed in the first place. Just like a mechanic who doesn’t get the job done, some cybersecurity service providers simply don’t deliver. Whether it’s setting up weak defenses or not keeping up with the latest best practices, working with an ineffective cybersecurity provider is practically the same as not having one at all.
Closing the gap: Finding a cybersecurity provider that actually keeps your network and its data safe should be an involved process. In other words, don’t jump at the first provider that seems like a good fit. A good starting point for vetting a cybersecurity provider is to request:
- A detailed services list
Filling Cybersecurity Gaps & Cutting Hackers off at the Pass
Protecting your organization from a cyberattack takes a multifaceted, continuous approach, from implementing strong internal policies to hiring a trusted cybersecurity provider.
While not all network breaches stem from known or intentional cyber defense weaknesses, being proactive against the most common ways hackers access a system is one of the smartest investments you can make.
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