Cyber risks continue to be at the front of management teams’ mind in all types of businesses. This was recently recognised at the highest level of government when MPs wrote to the chairman of the Bank of England’s court asking that it “scrutinise carefully the way that the Bank assesses cyber-risks to UK financial stability”.
It isn’t just large firms at risk, however, but small ones too. Recent research by PwC suggests that the cost of cyber security to businesses has doubled in the past four years, as firms scramble to protect themselves from the ever increasing threats.
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As organisations continue to adapt to the information age, they will become more and more dependent on information and intellectual property to thrive and survive. Unfortunately, the strategies being employed by hackers are simultaneously becoming more sophisticated, leading to an arms race of cyber security measures.
The implications of the loss of intellectual property and information are vast. Businesses must therefore identify the scope, risk and impact of a potential data loss before it happens so that they can respond both appropriately and quickly should an incident occur. How an organisation goes about doing this will vary greatly, but here are four overriding principles that need to be considered:
1. Consider the human element of IT processes, since “social engineering” is often combined with a technical attack. This means that employees can be tricked into opening seemingly safe files that contain malware, which can enable external penetration of the system.
2. Tailor cyber strategies to address the organisation’s particular needs based on the value of what’s being protected and where security is needed. This creates more cost-effective and efficient protection.
3. Acknowledge the differing manifestations of an attack. It is not just anonymous hacker groups that pose a risk; governmental and industrial espionage can also be a key risk for certain industries or organisations, as can occasional hackers who scan systems for known weaknesses.
4. Don’t forget to look at threats from within,. Organisations need to realise that threats can exist within their structure as well as externally. An employee has legitimate access to many different information sources, so care needs to be taken to ensure that these are not being used in an inappropriate manner. For this reason, sensitive information must be monitored for appropriate access and may need to be restricted to only certain employees.
Ultimately, cyber security is not just about up-front protection; it must also encompass on-going monitoring so an organisation can respond promptly and effectively if the worst does happen. As such, organisations should remember the Scouts’ old motto and:
– Be prepared by adequately protecting IP,
– Be prepared by monitoring on a regular basis, and
– Be prepared for the worst case scenario: it could happen.
Close attention in these areas will ensure that key information and intellectual property is adequately protected through a combination of proactive security measures, on-going monitoring, and an established investigation plan that can be put into operation very quickly in the event of a breach.
By Phil Beckett, Partner at Proven Legal Technologies
Phil Beckett is a Partner at Proven Legal Technologies and joined the team after spending seven years leading Navigant Consulting Inc’s European Forensic Technology practice.
Throughout his career Phil has provided advice to lawyers, regulators, corporate entities, not-for-profit organisations and other stakeholders in relation to forensic investigations and e-disclosure projects in both the public and private sectors in the UK and also internationally. He specialises in advising clients concerning the preservation and investigation of digital evidence, the interrogation of complex data sets and the disclosure of electronic documents. He is also a qualified fraud examiner and has been a recognised court expert in relation to various aspects of digital evidence, producing numerous expert reports.