Cybercrime can often reflect the state of the economy. As the markets have experienced a rollercoaster of disruptions from soaring inflation, the pandemic and the rise of remote working, criminals have gotten bolder in their abilities to infiltrate network vulnerabilities and weakened or overburdened security systems. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report for 2022, cybersecurity failure has quickly become one of the leading threats for businesses with no sign of decline.

While the global economy is potentially on the brink of a serious downturn, businesses and critical infrastructure organizations are at a much higher risk than ever for cyberattacks. Targeted attacks on organizations and entire industries have become incredibly sophisticated and effective, often leaving behind millions in damages and ransomware payments. Thus, both small and large business disruptions through ransomware extortion are expected to continue to proliferate across traditional enterprise environments. Business leaders must take actionable responsibility through a proactive cyber resilience plan. 

But increasing incident readiness and overall cyber resilience is not a straightforward process that requires a one-time check-in. It requires a commitment from C-Suite executives to build and support critical security strategies and stakeholder relationships and increase cyber awareness throughout the organization by conducting various exercises to test the processes put in place. 


Build Company Resilience Against Unpredictable Risks

More than 80% of company boards now consider cybersecurity a business risk rather than a technical issue solely the responsibility of an IT team. But it is not a secret that the most effective cybersecurity starts from the top down. Executives, board and other senior leadership, should be among the first to champion a security-centered culture that fosters collaborations across the company with both public and private stakeholders. 

Humans are one of the weakest links in the security chain, and their behavior can place the company at a huge risk of falling victim to malicious violations. Some of the most common breaches companies experience are opening phishing emails and unintentional employee mistakes such as using public or unsecured Wi-Fi to access corporate systems and sharing sensitive information, or using corporate devices for personal use (e.g., social media). 

By providing the executive team and employees with basic threat detection skills and annual cybersecurity training, organizations can reduce office vulnerability and mitigate the severity of attacks. Through this awareness training, employees can strengthen data privacy and passwords while developing cyber habits that will prove a worthy investment for the organization. 

Implementing habits of awareness can help executives further establish a cybersecurity culture that recognizes, responds, and reacts to threats before they can cause extensive damage. 


Conduct Proactive Threat Hunting In Your Environment 

Holistic management of an organization’s cybersecurity infrastructure has proven to reduce attack costs and provide advanced protection outside of traditionally defined parameters. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center’s 2021 Data Breach Report, the record number of data breaches has increased by 68%. Despite this, more than half of the company’s C-suite do not have an established incident response plan. A fast response to a detected threat is essential to mitigating the damage it can cause to the business.

One of the key reasons cyberattacks on small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs) have become extremely prominent is because the cost of entry for hackers has been driven down to nearly zero. Gone are the days when a group of sophisticated hackers must employ a small army of expensive and technical people to execute a breach flawlessly. Fortunately, advancements in strategy, technology and intel-sharing have vastly improved the ability to continuously seek out immediate indicators of compromise and mitigate malicious actors before they can bring harm. 

The most effective approach must center on establishing a monitoring system that expands the attack surface area and detects attacks quickly with swift remediation. Organizations, for example, can start by hiring a managed detection and response (MDR) provider or a SOC-As-a-Service that addresses security monitoring needs and remediation challenges on a continuous 24x7x365 basis. As previously stated, targeted breaches have been driven down to a low-cost threshold because many sophisticated hackers now use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)-based software. Thus, by ensuring your MDR company has the AI/ML tools needed to combat the new attack methods, SMBs and large enterprises can lower the vulnerability risks they face every day. 


Recover And Assess

Because some of the assets affected by a ransomware attack could be critical to the operation of the business, it’s essential to have a well-thought-out business continuity or disaster recovery plan in place. Routine and proper testing will demonstrate that the program is reliable, and everyone from the C-suite to the newest hire will understand their role in providing robust security. It also gives much-needed confidence to IT teams, let alone all stakeholders, during an actual breach.  

Uncertain economic times are not the time to pull back on cybersecurity spending and initiatives. The senior leadership of any sized business must take a keen look at cybersecurity initiatives. By establishing solid and proactive plans to defend against an aggressive threat landscape and fluctuating markets, companies can feel confident in advancing toward a more robust security posture.

This article originally ran in Today’s Cybersecurity Leader, a monthly cybersecurity-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security magazine. Subscribe here.