Cybersecurity is becoming a greater concern for organizations of all industries and sizes. Digital threats are prevalent and still on the rise, and one Texas county—Potter County—has made its latest commitment to build a cyber attack recovery plan in response.
This effort to better handle potential cyber attacks is something all Texas counties and business leaders should be paying closer attention to, but what does a cyber attack recovery plan entail, and how can it protect your business?
What is a Cyber Attack Recovery Plan?
Cyber attacks are becoming increasingly common, especially in areas such as Houston, thanks in part to the fact that the city is home to over 122,000 businesses that store sensitive data. It’s not just Houston, either; ransomware attacks hit 22 towns throughout Texas in April, affecting state, county, and city government infrastructures.
For Potter County, who had no formal or documented response to the April cyber attack, the response to develop a more robust cyber attack recovery plan was urgent and nonelective. With the help of a professional IT service company, they are developing a comprehensive IT recovery schematic, alongside other security upgrades such as new firewalls, encryption technology, dual authentication standards, and more.
The Financial Risks of Cybersecurity Breaches
Business owners are starting to pay more attention to the kind of cyber attacks that rocked Texas in April, and for good reason. There are significant detriments and downtime associated with cyber attacks that can cause costly damage to businesses.
Ransomware and phishing are two of the biggest culprits for modern cyber crime, with 85% of all businesses experiencing some kind of phishing or social engineering attack in 2019 alone. In Texas, cities like Fort Worth can see as many as 15,000 security threats a day. Not all of these will play out to become a full security crisis, but the risk is still too great for many businesses to afford.
For one, there is the cost of the breach itself, including associated downtime and damage cleanup. Then there is also reputational damage and loss of customer loyalty to consider, which is a common side effect for businesses who aren’t prepared to handle cyber crime. On average, the total cost of a data breach is about $3.92 million.
There may also be legal ramifications for a data breach, especially if your business was found to not be following data protection regulations. Data breach lawsuits can also cause financial damage. The largest of these settlements saw Equifax Inc. paying up to $700 million.
Given the exorbitant costs associated with data breaches, it’s clear that many businesses simply can’t afford not to protect their systems. In fact, 60% of small businesses that have experienced a data breach will close within 6 months of the crisis. For that reason, business owners and decision-makers must weigh the risks and consider investing in more robust cybersecurity services.
The Need for Cybersecurity Planning
The costs of the cyber assault in Texas last April is unknown. Public reports of damages have not been released yet. However, many businesses are getting the message loud and clear: cybersecurity planning is essential if they want to save costs and avoid losing private data. Here are some of the steps a cybersecurity plan should include:
- A full inventory of all IT systems and the types of data they collect. This inventory should list what kind of information the systems store, who can access it, what controls prevent unauthorized access, and more.
- With the answers to the above questions, a Managed Service Provider can help you determine how data should be handled and protected, what cybersecurity services you should implement for greater security, and which compliance regulations or laws your business must adhere to.
- The development of a security policy that covers who and under what circumstances someone can access data. Determine network policies as well, implement password protections, and ensure that protected information can only be accessed by authorized individuals.
- Develop a layered security architecture. Implement two-factor authentication, anonymizers, and other methods that ensure maximum protection of data.
- Backup your data. Your data should be backed up in the event that it is stolen or lost. Then you can have copies to fall back on and still have access to.
- Prepare for the unexpected. Make a plan for how your business will respond in the event of a data breach or IT disaster. Make procedures as part of a disaster recovery plan to ensure you are prepared for the worst.
The April attack on Texas IT systems is not likely to be the last major cybersecurity threat that the state or county sees. For that reason, it’s up to business owners and decision-makers to ensure they’re not caught in the next wave of assaults.