CLOUDSEC takeaway – Cyber security is not just an IT issue

Guest blog by Andrew Tang, Service Security Director at MTI Technology

With a fantastic turnout at CLOUDSEC 2016, attendees comprised of security and IT practitioners from numerous industries. Despite these varying sectors, one thing became abundantly clear: the same issues are keeping IT security professionals awake at night – securing cloud environments, securing privileged access accounts and user education.

Many enlightening statistics were shared. Trend Micro’s research found that in the last two years, 44% of UK businesses were hit by ransomware attacks, and a third (33%) of their employees were affected by the infection. We also heard that over $2.3 billion was lost to phishing attacks over the past three years (FBI), though the real figure is likely to be higher.

While this makes the somewhat abstract world of cyber threats very real indeed, if there’s one point to take away from CLOUDSEC, it’s that cyber security isn’t just an IT issue. When the entire workforce is educated around safe IT usage, the chance of a business network being hacked is significantly reduced.

Everyone needs best practice training
Organisations can defend against cyber-attacks; they don’t have to be victims. While in any organisation the CIO ultimately takes responsibility for cyber security, the rest of the organisation needs to accept responsibility too and not just shrug their collective shoulders. Regardless of seniority, companies should invest in best practice training when using a corporate network.

Best practice knowledge should percolate through the entire organisation from board directors, to employees and IT people involved in daily operations. It should explain why businesses have approved channels for storing data, the risks of using personal cloud storage platforms for data storage, and the need to question email content if it arouses suspicion – even if it’s from the CEO’s office.

Employees must understand the importance of cyber defences within the context of the business and how to safeguard against internal and external intrusions. Are they aware of the importance of setting difficult to crack passwords, as well as understanding that password variations of existing passwords are a source of vulnerability when used in other parts of the network? Do they know that in the last six months or so, ransomware attacks have spiralled as ransomware-as-a-service kits became commonplace on the dark web?

Serious business implications
The whole organisation must realise the possible business implications of a major hack – spiralling revenues, lost customers and plummeting share price, and this could all happen well after the event. Furthermore, jobs could be on the line if declining income hits the business badly.

Despite the growing evidence suggesting otherwise, many organisations still believe they won’t be hacked. With that said, however, if cyber security education is a part of the organisational culture, the chances of a serious breach are dramatically reduced.

 

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