The Friedman Blog

Posted on 07/05/2011, by Jeremy Edsall

Cyber Security Precautions for Your Business

Most business functions rely on computers and the Internet in some capacity. The convenience of using computers is accompanied by many risks, including damaging viruses, hackers, use of your system to attack others or use of your financial information to make unauthorized purchases. As a result, companies must respond by preventing, detecting and responding to cyber attacks through a well-orchestrated cyber security program.

Know the Risks

The first step in protecting your business is to recognize the cyber risks as outlined below.

Hackers, Attackers and Intruders

These terms are applied to people who seek to exploit weaknesses in software and computer systems for their personal gain. Although their intentions are sometimes benign, their actions are typically in violation of the intended use of the systems that they are exploiting. The results of this cyber risk can range from minimal mischief (creating a virus with no negative impact) to malicious activity (stealing or altering information).

Malicious Code (viruses, worms and Trojan horses)

        Viruses: This type of code requires that you actually do something before it infects your system, such as open an e-mail attachment or go to a particular Web page.
        Worms: This code propagates systems without user interventions. They typically start by exploiting a software flaw. Then, once the victim’s computer is infected, the worm will attempt to find and infect other computers.
        Trojan horses: This code is software that claims to be one thing while it is acting differently behind the scenes (program that claims to speed up your computer system but is actually sending confidential information to a remote intruder).
IT Risk Management Practices
To reduce your cyber risks, it is wise to develop an IT Risk Management Plan at your organization. Risk management solutions utilize industry standards and best practices to assess hazards from unauthorized access, use, disclosure, disruption, modification or destruction of your organization’s information systems. Consider the following when implementing risk management strategies at your organization:

·         Create a formal, documented risk management plan that addresses the scope, roles, responsibilities, compliance criteria and methodology for performing cyber risk assessments. This plan should include a characterization of all systems used at the organization based on their function, the data stored and processed and importance to the organization.
·         Review the cyber risk plan on an annual basis and update it whenever there are significant changes to your information systems, the facilities where systems are stored or other conditions that may affect the impact of risk to the organization.

In addition, your organization should take precautionary measures when selecting an internet service provider (ISP) for use for company business. An ISP is a company that provides its customers with access to the Internet and other Web services. In addition, the company usually maintains Web servers.

Back Up to Save Yourself

Almost all ISPs offer Web browsing capabilities with a varying degree of user support. Furthermore, most ISPs offer Web hosting capabilities, allowing users to create and maintain Web pages. With this luxury, many companies perform backups of e-mails and files, and may implement firewalls to block some incoming traffic.

To select an ISP that will reduce your cyber risks, consider the following:

·         Security – Is the ISP concerned with security? Does it use encryption and SSL to protect any information that you submit?
·         Privacy – Does the ISP have a published privacy policy? Are you comfortable with who has access to your information, and how it is handled and used?
·         Services – Does your ISP offer the services that you want and do they meet your organization’s needs? Is there adequate support for the services provided?
·         Cost – Are the ISP’s costs affordable and are they reasonable for the number of services that you receive? Are you sacrificing quality and security to get a lower price?
·         Reliability – Are the services provided by the ISP reliable, or are they frequently unavailable due to maintenance, security problems and a high volume of users? If the ISP knows that their services will be unavailable, does it adequately communicate that information to its customers?
·         User Supports – Are there any published methods for contacting customer service, and do you receive prompt and friendly service? Do their hours of availability accommodate your company’s needs?
·         Speed – How fast is your ISP’s connection, and is it sufficient for accessing your e-mail or navigating the Web?
·         Recommendations – What have you heard from industry peers about the ISP? Were they trusted sources? Does the ISP serve your geographic area?

Cyber security is a serious concern for all businesses. Contact Friedman Associates to learn about our risk management resources and insurance solutions, such as Internet/Media Liability, Security and Privacy Liability and Identity Theft Insurance today.

Source: U. S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

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