With the media presenting us with news on what seems to be a daily basis, it’s not up for debate that data breaches are one of the greatest threats to organizations of all sizes today. A single breach can bring a company to its knees; putting a halt on business operations, damaging your reputation, brand image, relationship with your customers and cause a severe financial strain as a result of remediation efforts, regulatory fines and lost revenue.
With the introduction of PIPEDAs breach reporting laws, last year, protecting company data and the repercussions of a data breach have become even more significant concerns. But what puts your organization at risk? How can you know your company’s vulnerability level, and what can you do to mitigate the threat before it’s too late?
Fortunately, there are some tell-tale indications that your organization is at substantial risk, and a thorough penetration test is your best bet when it comes to risk reduction.
While there are a number of indicators to look out for, we’ve summarized our top 5 list that signifies your organization is in dire need of a penetration test.
1. Lack of Staff Awareness and Training
The vast majority of cyber incidents are as a result of human error and carelessness. Both Ponemon Institute’s Cost of a Data Breach Study and the annual Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report state that employee negligence and employee error are the prevailing cause of data breaches within organizations. Everything from the misconfiguration of a security tool, failure to keep up with software updates, weak employee passwords, to clicking a malicious link in an email leaves the door open to opportunistic attackers.
An organization can help mitigate the risk of such incidents occurring by taking a comprehensive, dynamic approach to staff training and awareness. However, it is important to remember that in order to build a secure approach to data protection, it needs to be entrenched in workplace culture, with every employee aware of their role in the protection of company data. An organization’s workplace culture needs to dictate the magnitude of data protection and the role every individual has in ensuring it.
2. Lack of Understanding of Your Organization’s Risk Profile
Comprehensive understanding your organization’s risk profile and compliance status with critical legal and regulatory frameworks (PIPEDA) is essential. However, compliance with regulations such as the PIPEDA is not a foolproof way of preventing a data breach, but it surely goes a long way towards mitigating the risk. Conversely, if you don’t know whether you are fully compliant or where the gaps lie, you’re operating in the dark.
This is why it’s so important to have comprehensive visibility over your entire IT infrastructure and to perform gap analyses to establish how compliant you are with key data protection regulations, such as PIPEDA and GDPR.
3. Lack of Awareness of Your Organization’s Data Flow
In order to effectively protect your organization’s data, you need to understand and control how data flows throughout your organization. The basic objective of any network architecture is to securely transport user traffic while providing support for various applications in a way that minimizes packet loss that can impede performance. Many organizations are beginning to realize that network design has been forced to evolve over the last 10 years to support new web and infrastructure application types that must adhere to persistently changing connectivity models such as the remote worker and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).
The interconnectivity of all these data flow paths makes it difficult to implement a security solution that provides complete visibility into all things occurring within an organization. One way to combat this problem is to utilize the power of penetration testing which has the ability to use automated and manual testing techniques to thoroughly search through all the dark corners in an organization’s architecture attempting to find the exploitable vulnerability that was overlooked by conventional methods.
4. Your Cybersecurity Policies Lack Follow-through
Many organizations have well-documented and vigilantly thought-out data protection and cybersecurity policies. These policies are essential for demonstrating compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks, establishing your risk profile and understanding how your business and company data is organized. However, these policies mean very little if they are not regularly enforced and supported up by robust technical controls and businesses processes. In other words, your data protection policies lack follow-through.
5. Your Organization’s Risk Assessment Processes Are Obsolete
Protecting against data breaches is not something you can do once a year, file away and forget about. Even if you have achieved compliance with every regulatory framework you are subjected to, trained every staff member to recognize phishing emails, and deployed the latest cybersecurity tools and technologies, the threat landscape will continue to evolve. Understanding this, your organization needs to take a dynamic approach to data protection and continually examine your risk posture. In other words, your risk assessments need to evolve alongside the latest threats just to maintain a healthy risk profile.