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Business Impact Analysis: 5 Steps Toward Cybersecurity You Can Take Right Now

Learn why a business impact analysis and a risk assessment is critical to your business continuity.

 

Creating a robust defense against cyber threats, including malware, malicious traffic, and ransomware, doesn’t have to be an overly complicated process. Like every difficult but wise business move, the path to cybersecurity begins with a few well-placed steps.

Over the last 20 years I’ve helped organizations determine what’s most critical to their operations and understand the risks that reside within their core business processes. The fundamental element in a successful cybersecurity strategy is a Business Impact Analysis, or BIA.

Risks can take a variety of forms. It might be a cloud data breach by someone holding your encryption keys hostage, an unpredicted loss of data, or an event that makes a critical application suddenly unavailable. I’ve made a career of helping business leaders answer the question: “How am I positioned to survive a major disaster?”

We do so by working directly with executive teams, key stakeholders, department managers, and subject-matter experts within the organization and outside. Together we can define the most important business processes and make sure they are as resilient and secure as possible. A BIA is the most viable tool to this end, and we’ve been helping clients with BIAs for decades.

Here are five strategies and practices you can implement right now.

1. Perform Triage: Risk management will not eliminate 100 percent of your cybersecurity problems.

The first step, as in so many things, is to define the scope of your project and set priorities. It is key for businesses to understand that it isn’t necessary or possible to remediate all risks. Obviously, that does not mean you need to accept all risks, but it is necessary to understand them. Then, with eyes wide open, you can accept the risks you want to accept and remediate where it’s appropriate. In a nutshell, that is the output from a Business Impact Analysis.

2. Prepare the Troops: Develop an Incident Response Policy and rally your team behind it.

All of the clients we work with have really good people, controls, and technology. What most of them lack is an actual process to follow. We help them develop protocols and procedures in which everyone understands their individual responsibilities. There are rules, assignments, and time-sensitive processes. We help develop strategies so you are escalating to the appropriate member of the senior management team when necessary.

If you’re prepared, you can execute on an event more quickly, decisively, and successfully. What I’m describing here is an Incident Response Policy I’ll be expanding on that topic in an upcoming blog post.

3. Lock and Load: In the event of a cyber-attack, be prepared to act immediately.

When you have a breach or any kind of cybersecurity event, time is of the essence. An event must be identified and understood immediately.

As soon as an attack occurs, and the attacker has either gained access to your files or installed ransomware that’s locked up your data or system files, it is imperative to act swiftly. Recognizing that you’ve been breached and stopping the bleeding – either by disconnecting from the Internet completely or going through your escalation process automatically – is critical. It may seem like common sense, but I must tell you that most of the organizations we have worked with following a cyberattack struggled with these steps. In many cases, they tried to remediate it themselves or tried to handle something internally that was outside of their core competency. To their detriment, it unfortunately allowed the attack to continue and to replicate with greater consequences.

4. Face the Truth: Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

There is no getting around the fact that defending your core business processes in today’s increasingly perilous environment is an absolute business requirement and demands expertise. Having one or two internal people watching your entire cybersecurity posture, security controls, and tools is no longer a viable strategy. First of all, it’s a 24 x 7 x 365 effort. If you sleep at night and you’re a small shop, you are vulnerable. Everybody makes a good effort, but whoever has been assigned this responsibility will probably tell you that additional help is welcome.

5. Don’t Stress Out: Fear will not protect you.

The best thing about performing a Business Impact Analysis is that by confronting your organization’s vulnerabilities, you are empowering yourself to remediate them. The second-best thing about performing a BIA is that you will sleep better with that knowledge. It is not unwise to be extremely concerned about the dangers posed by cyber-threats; but fear can paralyze us. Stop worrying. Take action.

Thank you for trusting us to help with your cybersecurity needs.
Contact Us any time we’re always happy to help.

Shawn

Shawn Davidson
Meet the Author

Shawn Davidson is Quest’s VP of Risk Management


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Cybersecurity