When creating cybersecurity policies, organizations often focus on known security standards as well as their own company standards to protect critical assets. When implementing the aforementioned hybrid standards, firms may inadvertently neglect measures to reduce cyber risks for critical operation technology (COT).
Why Organizations Must Focus on Critical Asset Protection
The increasing global digitization, especially in the corporate world, has created huge security challenges for businesses. While universally understood and accepted, businesses must also learn to prioritize their focus when devising security strategies.
Criminal hackers always design their attacks with precision, focused on weak yet critical areas. They aim to achieve maximum impact with minimal effort and resistance. Therefore, businesses must develop their security plans with a red teaming approach – focused more on critical sensitive areas in the entire IT infrastructure. Undoubtedly, such security strategies must clearly surpass the average industry standards for digital security.
Key Steps to Protect Your Critical Assets
1. Identify the Actual “Critical” Assets and The Related Security Risks
The first step towards critical asset protection is identifying key areas that require attention. For instance, an organization serving the public, such as an eCommerce platform, must inevitably protect its customers’ data and payment methods. An IT service provider should secure their client’s data as well as the IT components associated with the services offered.
Generally, organizations should try finding the answers to the following questions to identify their critical assets.
- What will be the subsequent effect if the asset under consideration faces a cyber-attack?
- Will a potential cyber-attack against that asset affect the workforce, the data, the operations, or all of them?
- Is the specific component critical for the firm’s primary mission?
- What long-term impact will a possible cyberattack induce on the firm: financial, reputational, operational, or all/none?
After identifying the key areas, the next step is determining the subsequent cyber threats. Usually, organizational assets are vulnerable to one or more of the following threats.
- Operational damage
- Financial losses
- Data theft
- Physical theft of IT equipment
- Physical harm to the staff and/or the equipment
So, which of these cyber threats risk critical assets for your business? The IT teams may identify those threats by answering the following questions.
- What are the likely vulnerabilities in those assets?
- Which insider or outsider users can access those critical assets?
- What will be the outcome of limiting user access to the asset?
- How will a potential cyberattack benefit an insider?
- What benefits would an outsider achieve by compromising that asset?
- What innate security lapses exist that inadvertently increase the likelihood of cyber threats?
2. Implement A Zero-Trust Approach
As the term implies, Zero-Trust is the most straightforward cybersecurity principle that helps mitigate cybersecurity risks. In simple terms, implementing zero-trust means trusting only specific users or devices to have access to a critical asset. Such steps are vital to isolate critical IT components and protect them from unnecessary intrusion.
3. Set Up Air-Gapped Systems
Similar to the zero-trust security model, setting up air-gapped systems also helps prevent common online cyber threats.
When a system is disconnected from the internet, it is far more likely to be safe from malware, ransomware, and other common dangers that occur online. Such air-gapped systems are even more effective when set up with a zero-trust approach.
4. Ensure Adequate Physical Security
It is essential to protect critical hardware from unnecessary physical access. While most critical assets are placed in dedicated data centers, some sensitive components may also be located in offices for easy access. Such convenience should never compromise security, for which businesses must restrict staff access via badging and biometric security access if possible.
5. Implement Basic Account Safety Practices
Regardless of how secure your firm’s IT structure is, the entire security effort goes in vain if staff fail to implement basic security practices. From securing accounts with multi-factor authentication to timely device updates, employees should be trained to adopt these best practices as a routine.
Similarly, IT departments should schedule periodic vulnerability scans and implement prompt security fixes. In such cases, businesses can benefit from professional services such as Indusface.
Ensuring adequate cybersecurity that covers the entire spectrum is a must-have for all organizations. Simply ticking the boxes for security compliance is not enough unless firms learn to protect critical assets from cyber threats. Once key areas have been identified, businesses can significantly reduce the risk of potential damages from existing cyber threats.