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How Industrial Companies Can Avoid Security Breaches

Your company needs to have a plan in place to protect its data from a costly, devastating security breach — and a backup plan in place for if and when a breach occurs.

Q2 2022
In the age of digital technology, data is the new gold and is the target of many unscrupulous individuals. When an intruder gains access to a company's protected systems and data, it's called a security breach. A security breach is a precursor to data theft and system damage.

There are many types of data security breaches, but viruses, ransomware, and phishing are the most prevalent. Viruses and malware can attach themselves to emails that can quickly spread through your system when opened.

Using ransomware cybercriminals infiltrate your system and upload encryption software to hold your system hostage. A ransomware attack can shut down your entire operation if you run an industrial company, depending on computer systems. If you want to “free” your system, you'll usually need to pay ransom in the form of money to get the encryption key.

Criminals impersonate companies (i.e., phishing emails) in a bid to fool their employees into giving sensitive information like log-in credentials or employment records. Often the email is crafted to appear like it's from one of the company's higher-ups with an urgent request.

Successful security breaches can be devastating. You'll only need to read the news to see the scale of economic and operational damage a cyberattack can do. The good news is that you can implement security measures — from simply teaching your employees to create strong passwords, to following and implementing a cybersecurity framework, in order to make sure your company is protected and can respond to any cybersecurity threat.

Start With Your Employees
One of the most basic ways your company can protect precious data is to start with your employees. It will help if your employees are well aware of the importance of protecting critical information. You can start with teaching your employees to be careful about opening emails from people they don't know. These messages can be possible phishing emails or can contain viruses or malware.

There are many types of data security breaches, but viruses, ransomware, and phishing are the most prevalent. Another way to increase data protection is to create policies to determine which employees can have physical or electronic access to your computer systems and data. Work with your IT department to implement the proper procedures and technical aspects to make it happen. Give your employees access only to data and programs they need to do their job.

Your employees also need to be informed about creating proper passwords. Strong passwords are more difficult to crack. Strong passwords should be twelve characters long and combine numbers and both uppercase and lowercase letters as well as special characters. Your employees should avoid using their date of birth or simple passwords like 11111 or 0000. Your employees should also change their passwords regularly.

Create Policies on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)
It can't be helped that employees have their own devices like smartphones and tablets. Because they are comfortable using their own devices, they will often use the company networks to connect to the web. You can say the same for your contractors and visitors. You have to accept that these people will inevitably use their own devices, so it's essential you have policies and technologies to deal with this. All access to the Internet from personal devices should be on a separate network other than the one used to run your company computers and systems. Creating a different network for these devices will ensure you keep security breaches to a minimum.

Understand the Type of Data You Have
Create policies to determine which employees can have physical or electronic access to your computer systems and data. Just as you know your customer (KYC), take time to meet with your IT team and understand what type of data your company has. After you've identified your data, classify it according to its level of importance. You can only secure your sensitive information if you know where it is, how you use it, how it's decommissioned, and where it's backed up. If you don't have a dedicated IT security team, you may want to look into moving sensitive data to a cloud provider. A prominent cloud provider can provide more than adequate security for your data and systems.

The CMMC Model
Not only is a cyberattack debilitating, but it can also be costly. IBM reported that the average cost of a data breach was US$3.86 million globally and US$8.64 million in the U.S. The price includes security breach response, downtime cost, lost revenue, and long-term damage to an organization's brand. The CMMC model is an excellent framework that your company can use so you can successfully safeguard your data against intentional or unintentional security data breaches. The US Department of Defense (DoD) launched the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification in 2020 to respond to the severity of successful cyber security attacks.

Although the CMMC certification is for companies with contracts to the DoD, your company can benefit from the framework. CMMC is a measure of a company's preparedness to meet security threats over time within the context of an organization, with repeatable outcomes. It's a score that communicates your company's preparedness and allows comparison over time against your goals.

The CMMC model has five levels. The first tier deals with basic protection. Essential protection includes spam filters, firewalls, and multi-factor authentication. Your company should be at least on this level of security.

Not only is a cyberattack debilitating, but it can also be costly. Have A Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP)
Security breaches can happen no matter how prepared your company is. Make sure you have a disaster recovery plan in place as a contingency just in case an attack occurs. A DRP makes sure your company's vital systems can still operate while your team works on restoring lost data.

Summing It Up
Unfortunately, security breaches and cyberattacks are a reality your company has to deal with in its day-to-day operations. However, with vigilance, and an effective DRP, your company can prevent and recover ( if needed) from possible security and data breaches.

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