Why an Effective Cybersecurity Strategy Requires Collaboration

All businesses require a cybersecurity strategy, whether they realize it or not. Cyberattacks commonly target small businesses and big corporations alike, and a single data breach can cost your business up to $242 per record—with $8.19 million as the average cost of a full data breach.

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Today, most business owners at least recognize the threat of cyberattacks. But they often fail to realize exactly how they should be protecting their organization.

It’s common for small businesses, especially, to trust their cybersecurity to an IT team. While this certainly provides a base layer of security, a more thorough cybersecurity strategy requires collaboration; your IT and operational technology (OT) teams should be working together, and individuals throughout your organization, in every department, should all understand cybersecurity fundamentals and do their best to apply them.

Why is this collaboration so important?

Blind Spots, Checks, and Balances

First, trusting a single individual or a single department to completely and autonomously handle any responsibility is going to be problematic. Every person has biases and flaws, and every department has imperfections that compromise its ability to effectively function.

In the IT world, even the most experienced and attentive cybersecurity experts can neglect something important. We’re getting new information all the time, and new threats emerge on a constant basis. Something as simple as missing a software update, or being blind to a new type of attack can instantly make your organization more vulnerable.

Appointing multiple responsible individuals and encouraging multiple departments to work together can help you resolve these blind spots. It’s a way of instituting checks and balances into an effective system.

Individuals and Weak Spots

Your organization may have a robust firewall, strict device and software policies, and antivirus software installed on every machine—but that isn’t going to be enough to protect you from every type of threat. Why? Because all it takes is a single individual to create a weak spot big enough to compromise your entire organization.

For example, an employee may voluntarily provide a stranger with their password after falling victim to a social engineering scheme. If they aren’t familiar with the hallmarks of social engineering attempts, or if the social engineer is impressively skilled, no high-tech system can prevent this from happening. Once the cybercriminal gains access to your network, they can do some massive damage.

Collaboration is the best way to prevent this because it distributes cybersecurity responsibilities in a collective way. Rather than leaving cybersecurity to the IT department, each individual must take responsibility for their own actions. They must learn about the common types of threats faced by your organization, and the best practices and strategies that can prevent them.

Education and training are your greatest tools in this course. Your IT and OT departments should be working with other departmental leaders, and every individual within your business to provide them with the knowledge and resources necessary to exercise individual best practices.

Departmental Silos

Collaboration is also important to eliminate the development of departmental silos. Silos are an especially rampant problem in major corporations, but they can also form in smaller businesses. In a siloed environment, departments act as independent and autonomous, and over time, they develop their own culture, their own attitudes, and importantly, their own bad habits.

Left completely alone, your accounting department may focus exclusively on accounting, with little regard for cybersecurity within their own silo; they treat it as “IT’s job.” But by forcing your departments to work together, and setting common goals for the entire organization, you’ll break down these silo barriers—and each individual will understand their responsibility to the company.

Internal and External Threats

When most people think about cybersecurity threats, they think about external threats—the evil hackers who are constantly trying to steal your money or hold your systems hostage. But internal threats are just as dangerous, if not more so; a disgruntled or ignorant employee has more power to do damage to your company than any external threat.

Through the power of collaboration, you can proactively identify these internal threats before they have a chance to do damage. If everyone is responsible for upholding the security and integrity of your company’s systems, there are fewer weak points for internal threats to exploit.

Employing a Collaborative Security Strategy

It’s clear that practicing collaboration in your cybersecurity strategy is beneficial for your organization. The issue, then, is employing and enforcing a collaborative strategy. The best advice here is to take small steps; don’t worry about launching a new, comprehensive, top-down strategy to overhaul your entire cybersecurity approach. Instead, focus on providing educational seminars for your team, or host cross-training sessions to bring your independent teams together. Gradually, you’ll stitch together a universal system that works.

Interesting related article: “What is Cybersecurity?”