Cybersecurity as a Major Threat to Business Continuity

Sep 22, 2023

As we move into 2024 and beyond, cyberattacks continue to affect organizations worldwide. These threats are rapidly elevating cybersecurity as one of the most critical aspects of business continuity to focus on in the next few years. 

National Security Council Guidance

Cyberthreats are not a new phenomenon. In fact, cybercrime has seen a sure-but-steady uptick in the past few years. Following back-to-back ransomware attacks all the way back in 2021, the head of cyber and emerging technology at the National Security Council, Anne Neuberger, wrote a letter to private sector companies urging leaders to review their cybersecurity posture as a significant risk to business operations and resilience. Examining more recent data, cybercrime has grown by as much as 38% in 2022, and these figures are likely to be even higher by the end of 2023.

All organizations must recognize that no company is safe from being targeted by ransomware, regardless of size or location. We urge you to take ransomware crime seriously and ensure your corporate cyber defense match the threat.

To understand your risk, business executives should immediately convene their leadership teams to discuss the ransomware threat and review corporate security posture and business continuity plans to ensure you have the ability to continue or quickly restore operations.

Anne Neuberger, National Security Council

The letter outlined immediate steps companies can take to protect themselves from ransomware attacks, including best practices such as multifactor authentication, endpoint detection and response, encryption, and a skilled security team. In addition, companies should back up data and regularly test systems, as well as update and patch systems promptly. Neuberger also advised that companies test incident response plans and use a third party to test the security team's work.

Top Challenges to Cybersecurity Programs

Leadership buy-in

Many organizations operate reactively rather than proactively when it comes to cybersecurity. They may not invest in prevention until the first major breach occurs. Additionally, robust cybersecurity can carry a high price tag, though the cost to your company's bottom line and reputation will likely be far higher in the event of a breach.

Increase in remote work

According to Forbes, the rise of remote work has brought about a significant increase in cybersecurity threats. With employees accessing company networks and data from various locations and devices, the attack surface has expanded, providing more opportunities for cybercriminals. Phishing attacks, ransomware incidents, and data breaches have surged as attackers exploit vulnerabilities in home networks and unsecured devices.

Skill shortages

There is currently a severe shortage of skilled cybersecurity workers. According to recent data, there are roughly 700,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions in the U.S. Surveys suggest that only one percent of Fortune 500 companies have enough in-house digital talent, which is a 10% reduction from figures produced in 2020. When a cyberattack hits, that means that a significant amount of organizations may be unprepared to respond to or prevent it.

Shifting to the cloud

Especially as a result of the pandemic, many companies had to take both internal and external operations online, exposing vulnerabilities easily exploited by hackers.

10 Steps Businesses Can Take

Here are ten steps provided by ISACA that businesses can take to be better prepared for and help prevent ransomware attacks.

  1. Understand risk profiles
  2. Realize data responsibilities
  3. Test for incoming phishing attacks
  4. Assess all cybersecurity roles on a regular, event-controlled basis
  5. Evaluate patches on a timely basis
  6. Perform regular policy reviews
  7. Leverage threat intelligence appropriately
  8. Protect end-user devices
  9. Communicate clearly with executive leadership and employees
  10. Comprehend organizational cybermaturity

Protect Your Business

Assembling an incident response team with cybersecurity training, educating employees, and performing emergency plan testing can significantly reduce the risk and cost of a data breach. These aspects are part of a holistic business continuity strategy and should be part of your business continuity plan to maintain operations for years to come.