Taking a wide-angle view of risk

Taking a wide-angle view of risk

The right managed services provider can help your firm to understand and mitigate cyber risk

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16th October, 2021

Faced with an ever-shifting threat landscape, businesses today need to develop a global perspective to cyber risk, rather than seeing it solely as a question of information technology policy. As a result, more and more are partnering with managed services providers who bring to the table not only technical skills, but an understanding of the challenges of doing business online.

“Our general risk management approach is based on identifying risks and having a plan to treat them,” said Enda Cahill, chief technology officer at Innovate.

This means that Innovate’s clients are able to make decisions based on the likelihood of exposure and, therefore, budget accordingly.

“That allows a business to plan, otherwise you don't know where expenditure should go,” Cahill said.

Today, the threats are coming thick and fast, with organised crime targeting more and more businesses and end users.

“It really has increased to where it's effectively happening on an industrial scale, in terms of cyber-crime activity,” he said.

The pervasiveness of networks in business today, too, mean that the threat is felt universally.

“All organisations have exposure to the internet; much more than they had over the past ten to fifteen years,” Cahill said.

He added that while there are a range of threats out there, the two most common are phishing and ransomware.

‘They're definitely related in terms of having a similar path into organisations, though phishing is more targeted at individuals. However, the controls you put in place [to combat them] are similar,” he said.

Though firewalls continue to play a vital role, they are no longer enough – and education has a major role to play. In addition, Innovate can simulate an attack in order to see how staff respond.

“It needs to be a more systematic approach now. People are much more open to use awareness training and we even have simulated phishing attacks,” said Cahill.

Of course, some businesses such as banks and insurance companies, but increasingly also retailers and even business to business suppliers with self-service portals, have customers to worry about who also need to be educated. The answer, then, is to ensure that risk is considered at senior management level.

“The attacks are becoming more targeted and specific and IT is such a foundational component of all business that senior management needs to have an awareness of IT systems and the risk that is there,” Cahill said.

Innovate, which works with both major multinationals as well as indigenous enterprises, has found that the difficulties are often more severe for smaller businesses.

“We deal with everywhere across the Irish market, from multinationals to companies with 25 and 50 users, and the smaller companies do have more difficulty as they have smaller management teams. Working with a managed service partner is a real benefit for the small businesses,” Cahill said.

Testing users through simulated attacks lies at the sophisticated end of the spectrum, though it is becoming more common. Every business, though, needs to get the basics right.

“Basic patching and anti-virus, and everybody should have multi-factor authentication now; that’s absolutely necessary. Then you have people moving on to the next step with more sophisticated tools,” Cahill said.

Some organisations may also be at risk because they think all of their security is handed by their public cloud provider, whereas in fact this is not the case.

“People need to be aware of their responsibility: they are still responsible if they’re using cloud services. We do expect to see, over the next couple of years, misconfigured cloud services leading to breaches.”

Cahill said that despite the dangers, businesses need not panic. “The key message from us is that, as a managed service provider, we are bringing this risk management to them,” he said.

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