The New Rules Of Cybersecurity

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The man who built the U.S. Army’s cyber command says online threats are going get worse before they get better. But that doesn’t mean leaders are powerless. Here's how to protect your information and leave no data behind.

Beyond that, the ability for criminals to seize control over these personal medical devices and hold their users for ransom is growing. Last year’s WannaCry
ransomware outbreak affected thousands of hospitals and reportedly targeted medical devices for the first time as well.

Cybercriminals are just beginning to think about the ways in which they can leverage their abilities. Any belief that if we pay them it will be okay will break down. You can’t trust agreements between people with values and people without values. Paying them will not ease the pain. Defining and mitigating the risk to prevent these threats from making you a victim is the key. And if prevention fails, your resiliency will depend on how prepared you are to recover and restore operations.

Taken together, the overall threat from cybercrime will result in far more expense to companies—not just from the breaches themselves, and working to prevent them, but also from litigation and, in all likelihood, additional regulation. Breaches at companies over the last year, especially Equifax, generated increased scrutiny among lawmakers and regulators around the country—and on Capital Hill. Expect a growing push for companies to start to do some of the necessary security basics.

Hard-Learned Lessons to Consider
In this environment, the main issue for CEOs and top leaders isn’t which software to buy. When it comes to cybersecurity, culture is the most important thing because people are the weakest link. It isn’t just in corporate America. In every large organization, including the Army, where high discipline and high standards are expected, people often fall short, given the anonymity the virtual world provides. In my experience, soldiers—and employees—often fail to remember that a risk to one is a risk to all.

“the main issue isn’t which software to buy. culture is the most important thing because people are the weakest link.”

A worker who would never think of leaving the door to a factory unlocked will think nothing of clicking on a malicious link from an unknown sender or using a weak personal password to protect critical company data. A 2017 Verizon study found 81% of hacking-related breaches leveraged either stolen or weak passwords.

So how do you lead in this volatile environment? Here are 10 ideas on where to start.

1. Lead from the Top and Keep It Simple. First, figure out how to make policies simple. If it’s too hard to follow a directive, your people won’t follow it. In addition, complex policies take more time, stealing time from your business. Your people are pretty creative—if you’ve put something in place and they don’t like it, they’ll find a way not to do it, or a way around it. In simple terms, find ways to protect people from themselves.

Changing a culture is hard, and harder when people are the weakest link. Most importantly, demonstrated leadership from the top is essential to change. It’s pretty clear to an organization if the leaders have not embraced the need for a cybersecurity culture. Make a point of discussing cybersecurity openly—and reinforce the message as often as possible. Then, ensure your actions match your words.

2. Don’t Be Overconfident. It is very easy for adversaries to take advantage of companies that may not have invested in the appropriate measures with respect to cybersecurity. Overconfidence makes it worse. People tend to think they are better than they actually are. This is human nature. If you find threats in your network, and you ask the people doing the forensics where other threats are, the answer will likely be, “there’s no one else, that we’re aware of.”

The reality is you get so close to the problem that you think you’re better than you really are. Change your mindset to believe that anything your organization can do, your adversaries can do, and in some cases, do it better. Finally, think about changing your perspective and assume cyber threats are in your network, and see how this may change an organization’s thinking.


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