By Dan Hernborg
With the looming threat of a potential recession and economic downturn, many professional service firms are looking to reduce costs and increase efficiency in preparation.
Many are also looking to adjust to a hybrid work environment that looks to be here to stay and overall relying more and more on digital communication platforms to recruit talent and grow their business. At the same time, many in the industry are looking ahead to what changes AI will have for professional service firms and the resources they will need. Central to all of these issues and trends is a move by firms to increase their digital footprint and rely more and more on technology to drive their business.
There is a catch, though. With this digital migration comes increased risk and exposure to cyber-attacks. On average, an attack can cost a small to medium-sized business $2.2 million. In addition to this, professional service organizations like law firms and accounting firms are particularly appealing to bad actors, given the volume and nature of the data they hold for their firm and its clients.
All hope is not lost, though. By implementing a security- first approach, professional service firms can ensure that as their digital footprint grows, so does their digital security.
In simple terms, a security-first approach can be defined by the old adage, "the best defense is a good offense". By proactively addressing issues before they occur or spotting them and addressing them early on, service firms can help minimize their risk. But what does this look like for your IT infrastructure? A few of the key elements of a security-first are:
95% of security breaches are due to human error. Errant clicking of links in an email, responding to spoofed texts with sensitive info, or careless data storage is typically the catalyst for a breach of your network. Proactive training and awareness for your workforce is one of the best ways to reduce this risk.
ENDPOINT DETECTION AND RESPONSE
Organizations can enhance their overall cybersecurity posture by detecting threats at the endpoint level, responding to incidents promptly, and preventing potential breaches from spreading throughout the network. EDR solutions are often used with other security technologies, such as antivirus software, firewalls, and network monitoring tools, to create a comprehensive defense-in-depth strategy. Some endpoints are often overlooked, like an outdated network printer, an old laptop without the proper patches or even simple devices like a Wi-Fi thermostat.
Your IT infrastructure is only as good as your weakest point. Vulnerability management is a proactive approach to identifying, assessing, prioritizing, and mitigating vulnerabilities or weaknesses in software, systems, networks, and other components of an organization's infrastructure.
DNS-based content filtering, or DNS blocking, is a technique used to control and filter access to websites and online content that might elevate your risk of attack.
MANDATORY MUTLI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION
An 8-character password with numbers, upper/lower case letters and symbols, on average, can be hacked in 8 hours. Multi-factor authentication, or MFA, is the best way to combat this, and although it can be a frustrating second step for users, the protection it provides is well worth the inconvenience.
REGULAR IT AUDTITING
As with any service that's critical to your firm's operations, it's important that you regularly assess what's being done and, when it comes to IT, if there are any gaps in your security. One of the best ways to do this is by conducting a third-party network assessment from a managed IT servicesprovider. Theycangiveyouasnapshotofwhere you stand with actionable steps for filling critical gaps and areas for improvement so that you can take a security-first approach with the technology that's critical to your firm and its future.