Why Is Cybersecurity Important for Your Business? Neglecting It Could Be Your Downfall. Understanding cybersecurity's importance for different-sized businesses is crucial. As a leader, you should be aware of the risks that neglect of cybersecurity can bring. Implementing the right strategies by the right people is a core.

By Mykola Srebniuk

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Information is the heart of a business, everything revolves around it. So we can't underestimate the importance of information security. By enforcing a strong cybersecurity policy, your organization can avoid data breaches, unauthorized access and other major threats that might jeopardize your digital assets.

If cybercrime were an economy, it would be the third-largest economy after China and the U.S. It could reach $17.65 trillion annually by 2025. This is a staggering figure and we have to take measures to avoid falling prey to cyberattacks.

As a business, the best thing you can do is to steadily build a culture of security within your organization. From CEOs to executive managers to department heads, the management should proactively support and communicate the importance of information security practices so they are maintained across the company. If you get that right, a culture of security will become an integral part of your routine.

Related: A Business Leader's Beginner Guide to Cybersecurity

Why cybersecurity is crucial for your business

You owe it to your employees and customers to keep their data intact. Think about the damage you could inflict on people if their social security numbers, health information or other sensitive data gets exposed through your company. This is why cybersecurity can't be ignored.

Even more, effective information security practices can positively impact your business to:

  • Prevent downtime. Security breaches will unavoidably paralyze your company's operations for a certain period of time. By preventing downtime, you prevent losing revenue.
  • Avoid expensive repairs. Cybercrime can damage your company's physical assets. If you maintain a safe information infrastructure, you won't have to replace your employees' computers and other devices they use at work.
  • Gain loyal customers. A security-aware business is a business that people can trust. And trust is one of the most valuable assets nowadays. If you demonstrate impeccable security and data privacy, people will feel confident about buying from you.

What are the best practices to look at?

When it comes to protecting your business from cyber threats, it's important to utilize the latest security practices. This includes implementing Single Sign On (SSO) and employing a Zero Trust approach to ensure secure authentication of every device accessing company assets.

Additionally, regular penetration tests, third-party vendor security assessments and data encryption during transmission and at rest should be conducted to protect customer data. Building an internal process for managing organizational and information security risks can also help streamline the process and save time and money.

However, it's important to remember that even with all of the appropriate technical measures in place, up to 95% of cybersecurity issues are linked to human error. To avoid this, it's essential to regularly conduct security awareness and phishing test campaigns. Try to create a powerful human firewall by teaching colleagues interestingly or even gamified ways.

To ensure all these measures are effective, it's advised to seek the services of an experienced cybersecurity professional.

Who's an information security officer?

A chief information security officer (CISO) is the person responsible for the protection of a company's digital assets. In other words, it's someone who keeps your internal and customers' data safe by establishing security policies and ensuring compliance with those policies.

Since the landscape of security threats has been expanding with incredible speed, it's important that your company has a dedicated CISO to keep up with trends and potential threats. Here's what a CISO will typically do for your business:

  • Develop, test and implement security systems.
  • Ensure the compliance of your IT system with the latest security regulations.
  • Assess system vulnerabilities.
  • Develop and enforce threat prevention strategies.
  • Report on the state of your information security.

The top cybersecurity skills you should be looking for in a CISO include an inclination for analytical thinking, attention to detail, problem-solving and communication. The main thing, in my opinion, is the ability to keep up with advances in security practices because of how rapidly new cyber threats evolve across different platforms.

Related: What to Look for When Hiring a CISO for a Growing Startup

The right time to hire a CISO is now

The earlier your business builds a cybersecurity strategy, the better. No company is too small to hire a CISO. In fact, it's usually small businesses that suffer the most because it's hard for them to recover from a security breach — even a single DDoS attack can shut down a small company overnight.

Larger businesses also make mistakes. They often put in charge a chief information officer (CIO), hoping they will handle security. The reality is, while a CIO is responsible for the management and usability of your company's information, they don't always have the cybersecurity skills, so your organization might miss out on some crucial cybersecurity protocols and policies.

What if you don't have the resources to hire a CISO

However, if you are unable to hire a security professional and wish to protect your business on your own, there are the following recommendations:

  • First, determine which assets are most critical to protect. It will enable you to prioritize your cybersecurity efforts and allocate resources more effectively.
  • Next, create a comprehensive set of guidelines and procedures for how employees should handle sensitive data, use company devices, and respond to potential cyber threats. It's essential to ensure that employees are trained on these policies and updated regularly to stay current with new threats.
  • To add an extra layer of security beyond just a password, require employees to use multi-factor authentication (MFA) to access sensitive systems and data.
  • Encrypt sensitive data both at rest and in transit. It will help protect against data breaches and make it more difficult for attackers to gain unauthorized access.
  • Install and regularly update anti-malware software to protect against viruses, ransomware and other types of malware.
  • Use a VPN to secure internet connections and protect data as it travels between devices and networks.
  • Regularly back up important data and store it offsite. It can help mitigate the damage caused by a ransomware attack or other types of data breach.
  • Finally, use strong, unique passwords for each account and implement a password management tool to store and manage them securely.

It takes time to build a solid security culture, but it pays off. Having security practices in place is crucial to your business growth and, in some cases, may even help your company survive.

Related: Cybersecurity is Now Essential to Corporate Strategy. Here's How to Bring the Two Together in an Organization

Mykola Srebniuk

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Head Of Information Security at MacPaw Inc.

Mykola Srebniuk has more than 15 years of experience working in computer networking and cybersecurity. Srebniuk is passionate about building and deploying security solutions and processes from scratch, helping companies stay secure and avoid cyber threats.

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