When it comes to cyber security, there are a lot of things one needs to know. Ultimately, business leaders choose to invest in the help of a cyber security consultant in order to make sure their network is properly managed by an expert. But, even if your consultant claims to be an ‘expert’ in cyber security, you need to ask yourself, “Do they have the right expertise?” Often times, it’s not about what this professional has on their list of credentials; it’s about what they don’t have. And, what they don’t have could prove to be very bad news for your security situation.
When you look for your cyber security consultant, it might be overwhelming to see everything they have to offer you. Just like when you buy a new TV or look through a brochure, you see all the beautiful advertising. If it’s done nicely, you would never really ask yourself, “Well, what does this not have?” or “What is it missing?”
Most cyber security professionals will have an IT background, which seems like that should be a given. However, an IT background isn’t all you should be looking for. After all, if that’s all they have, then why not just consult your IT department? Surely, they have all it takes to clean up a security problem, right?
Wrong. Most business leaders know that their IT team has other responsibilities, and not quite the right experience when it comes to specifically handling security concerns. This is why CEOs seek the help of a professional cyber security consultant in the first place.
So, what is it you want to be looking for in your cyber security professional?
While an IT background is certainly necessary, you want to make sure the consultant you’re looking into working with actually has a software development background.
The biggest reason for this is because hackers generally do their work by using scripts as their main tool to cause damage on the networks of unsuspecting targets. To even recognize something like this, a cyber security professional would have to have experience in software development. But, in addition to being able to recognize this kind of hack, you also want someone who could make sure YOUR software is protected, to begin with. They know exactly what to look out for and are read up all the different types of breaches that exist.
A person with solely IT experience probably won’t be able to see this as well as someone with a software development background.
Generally, although most cyber security consultants with software development experience also have a good IT foundation, those with solid IT experience can’t really say the same for themselves. Again, it’s not about what your potential cyber security has; it’s about what they’re perhaps lacking and how that could impact the quality of their service to you.
An avid cyber security approach is important for financial companies that collect the information of their clients or have their own data to store and protect. While there are a lot of great consultants and managed services out there, take your time choosing the one that’s best for your company. And, do yourself a favor and make sure they have experience in both software development and IT. Otherwise, you aren’t really getting what you’re paying for.
When it comes to companies protecting their network from hackers, most business leaders know what to do. Once a company has made the decision to utilize services of a third party in regard to their security, they’ve already made a move in the right direction.
But, how do you know you’re using the right cyber security service for your company? And, does the service you’re using possess the expertise, resources, and manpower to continuously monitor your network? It’s not just about outsourcing your cyber security, although that much is important. Ultimately, it’s about asking yourself whether or not there are enough eyes on your network to make sure your security situation is stable at all times.
Why You Need to Analyze Your Own Business Before Seeking Help
Just because you define your business as a small business, doesn’t mean your need for cyber-security is any less than anyone else’s. In fact, small businesses can actually be more of a target for cyber criminals, as most of the time, hackers assume you’re not taking proper precautions and your network is thus that much easier to hack.
This means that you need to up your cyber security game as much as possible. Since you can be considered the low-hanging fruit for hackers, you need to be extra cautious of your network’s security, especially when you operate in the financial industry. As a small business, you’re vulnerable in a lot of ways; one of those ways being the reputation you have amongst your customers. When you’re small or just starting out, your customers’ expectations of you are that much higher. If you have a security breach, you may find yourself back at square one with your business.
Therefore, before you seek assistance from a third party managed service provider, have a general idea of what’s important to you security-wise. Even if you don’t know a lot, knowing what your business’ demands are and the value of what you need to protect, is enough to guide you in the right direction.
One Pair of Eyes is Never Enough
Before the technology era, how did people protect their businesses? Think about it. They locked and chained their doors. They installed alarms. They added security cameras. Many hired security guards to keep watch overnight. Already, that’s a lot of eyes watching that business.
In the Internet age, the concept is much the same. However, hackers don’t have to dress up in black and plan a heist to break in; it’s often much easier to breach your network. And, since a lot of security breaches can happen because of human error, it’s so important you have enough people looking out for you.
When someone writes a book, they have editors read over their work again and again. Don’t you want your network treated better than a bestseller? We think so. That alone is enough incentive to make sure there are enough eyes on your network. Therefore, when you seek out a company to take care of your cyber-security, figure out what their staff numbers look like and how many people will be on your case.
But, It’s Not Just About Eyes
When you’re working in the financial industry, you have a lot of responsibility when it comes to your customers. If you’re collecting sensitive information from your clients, such as credit card numbers, SSNs and home addresses, the stakes are higher for you than other companies. That means it’s not just about HOW MANY people are monitoring your network, but HOW they are monitoring it (and how often).
Before you buy the services of a third party provider, read their testimonials. See what they offer, what their guarantees are, and read up to make sure they haven’t made headlines for anything negative.
This is YOUR company and it’s your priority. Is your managed service provider making your security their priority? You better hope so.
Up until now, when auditors and regulators of cyber-security came to companies, most of the time they would just ask to see whether an assessment was done. It was even less likely that they would have asked the details of that assessment. But, now, that’s starting to change.
Some companies these days have gotten into trouble with auditors and regulators because even though they had done an assessment, the assessment was either not as comprehensive as it should have been or the company didn’t act on the risks that the assessment reported.
If you want to make sure your risk assessment is done correctly, then you must make sure it falls under one of these three categories:
There are many different kinds of risk assessments out there, and what you use will depend on a lot of factors. First of all, it depends on what kind of business you’re in and how much a hack could affect the lives of your customers and employees. Of course, there are some businesses that are held up to higher standards than others when it comes to an auditor’s discretion. That being said, you should always set the security bar high for yourself no matter what, this way you know you’ll be safe.
Whatever route you decide to go with your risk assessment, you should ask the organization that’s doing it whether or not the test they choose to perform is standardized; meaning if the test were repeated again at your business or another, it would produce (more or less) the same results. At the very least, the assessment should yield the same, specific kind of information across the board.
As mentioned before, a test that’s done for one company may not work for another. If your third-party is running the same assessment on your small e-commerce site that’s it’s doing on a multi-million dollar health insurance company, that could very well be a red flag.
Some of the assessments you may have heard of include, but are not limited to, FAIR, OCTAVE, FMEA, etc. Some fall into the category of qualitative assessments, while others fall into the category of quantitative. This means that some assessments will look at data and other factors over a long period of time, while others are simply based on an expert’s opinion. The results of these assessments can be expressed in different ways, usually referring to the various direct or indirect costs.
When the assessment is done, it should be able to answer key questions that are relative to your business. What vulnerabilities do you have in your system? What could be causing the threat? What kind of damage are you looking at if these threats take hold? And, of course, how to fix it.
So, if auditors and regulators are starting to ask more questions, don’t you want to be ready with more answers? If you happen to have an auditor come knocking on your door that wants to know much more than whether or not you’ve simply done on an assessment, then you need to be prepared. What we’re trying to say is, your assessment shouldn’t merely report the date you had it done, when you’re due for a next one, and by whom was it administered.
Instead, your assessment needs to have explicit information and data on it that will be satisfactory to the potential auditor. If you want to get a heads up about what an auditor might look for, speak to the organization that will be conducting your assessment.
Remember, even if you go through all this work to have the right assessment done for your company in the eyes of the auditors, it won’t mean much if you’ve left that assessment report in a pile of papers on your desk. In addition to making sure your assessment falls into one of these three categories, you also need to address anything that assessment uncovers; immediately. Also, make sure you continue to get assessments done regularly in order to stay on top of your security.