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7 Critical Cybersecurity Lessons Learned in 2021

7 Critical Cybersecurity Lessons Learned in 2021

2021 brought a lot of unique challenges across the board, many of them unexpected. Cybersecurity became a more critical issue than ever before as businesses continued to face unprecedented levels of cyberattacks. Furthermore, many people discovered that their businesses were far more vulnerable than anticipated.

As a result, however, the cybersecurity industry learned a number of critical lessons.

Lesson #1: It’s not a question of “if” your business will be attacked–or even breached–but “when.”

Attacks may vary depending on the specific business attacked and the hacker who leads the charge, but in reality, businesses will continue to face those attacks–and the aftermath of them. It’s critical for every business to be prepared to handle those attacks, with a robust cybersecurity program and a series of responses that can make it considerably easier to manage those challenges as they appear.

Preparing ahead of time can help put your business in a better position to handle a potential cyberattack–to decrease the impact on your business as a whole.

Lesson #2: Assume the worst when dealing with a cybersecurity attack.

The SolarWinds incident showed the value of a robust response plan very clearly. SolarWinds assumed from the beginning that it had been breached and reacted accordingly–and that quick reaction made it much easier for the company to protect all of its users.

For other businesses, the lesson learned is clear: it’s critical to have a plan in place to respond to a cybersecurity attack, and it’s important to implement that plan as early as possible–even if it ends up being a false alarm.

Dealing with cybersecurity challenges openly can be a real challenge for many businesses, who fear that they might lose customers over a breach. Addressing those challenges promptly, however, can help protect both business and customers and build additional credibility.

Lesson #3: It’s critical for businesses to go beyond basic compliance.

Cybersecurity requirements for businesses lag far behind the latest standards in actual security. Many businesses have faced breaches and challenges because they failed to update their security to the latest standards–particularly if they neglected to go beyond basic compliance standards. Biden’s cybersecurity order stepped up the game for federal workers while offering benefits to businesses that do their best to ensure that they meet cybersecurity requirements–even if those businesses later face a breach. The order recognizes the importance of going beyond basic compliance for payment systems or health information protection and increases the burden placed on businesses when it comes to actually protecting their customers and their data.

Lesson #4: Cybersecurity professionals require access to the latest, trusted information.

The cybersecurity community, now more than ever, must work together to keep an eye on threats and act quickly in the event of a potential emergency. Unfortunately, it’s also difficult to sift through all of the information that often hits databases and communities as cybersecurity professionals struggle to close a recently-located vulnerability. A clear line of threat intelligence is now more critical to cybersecurity workers than ever before–and those workers need to work with other providers to increase the odds that they can provide the high standard of protection businesses need.

Lesson #5: Security services are their own unique requirement.

With talent shortages creating labor problems across the country, many businesses have chosen to outsource their cybersecurity to other organizations. Using a managed service security provider is a great way to ensure that businesses have the protection they need even when they cannot bring on cybersecurity specialists the way they need to. However, they face one critical problem: making sure that they’re working with a legitimate, knowledgeable security provider.

Cybersecurity services are not the same as other services. They require specialists who fully understand the potential threats that businesses might face and how to address them effectively. Lumping cybersecurity under the other services provided by a business that does not have the right staff on hand can decrease the effectiveness of those services. Working with an experienced cybersecurity provider, on the other hand, can help businesses feel more secure in their virtual protections.

Lesson #6: Information and credibility is critical.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to have information about the latest challenges in cybersecurity. If you’re working with an MSSP,  make sure you choose one that is actively involved with and connected in the community. If you have an internal cybersecurity team, make sure your team stays involved with the greater cybersecurity community. Information is paramount–and it’s the critical tool that ensures that your team can respond quickly in the event of a breach or even identify potential threats before they become a more serious problem. With that connection to the greater cybersecurity community, you can better connect with the tools and skills you need to protect your business.

Lesson #7: Taking out cybersecurity insurance can help protect your business in the event of an attack.

Dealing with the aftermath of a cyberattack can prove extremely costly for your business–and often, your budget can determine what funds you actually have on hand to manage the aftermath of the threat and its impact on both your business and your customers. Many businesses fold each year as a direct result of the losses they faced during a cyberattack.

Cybersecurity insurance helps circumvent the problem. While it cannot eliminate the potential for lost business or unhappy customers, it can ensure that your business has the funds it needs to respond to and deal with a potential threat as quickly and effectively as possible.

Cybersecurity has been a hot topic throughout 2021 as cyberattacks continue to rise–and to create larger-scale problems. From the SolarWinds attack to the gas pipeline shutdown, it has become increasingly obvious that cyberattacks can create immense impact on more than just the virtual world. Partnering with the right security partner is critical. As we move into 2022, make sure you have a security partner who can help your business address and prepare for potential threats and respond in the event of an emergency. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

Special thanks to James Forbis, a Cincinnati IT services professional for his help with this article.