How to Protect Your Organisation from a Cyber Attack

In some circles, cyber security is synonymous with threat protection. After all, an organisation’s main objective is to prevent unauthorised actors from accessing sensitive information, and that means implementing protective measures.

That should certainly be a top priority for organisations, but there’s a lot more to cyber security than protecting assets. The measures you implement should be part of a cohesive strategy that help you prepare for and respond to security threats.

Although most organisations do this to some extent, their approach is often disjointed, with additional measures bolted on to their core activities.

It’s why experts recommend a defence-in-depth approach to cyber security. The framework consists of five interrelated stages (or ‘layers’) to mitigate the risk of data breaches: detection, protection, management, response and recovery. 

Even if one of these defensive layers is breached, the next works to further contain the damage.

In this blog, we look at how you can prevent cyber attacks by taking a defence-in-depth approach to information security.

What is cyber protection?

Protecting your organisation from cyber attacks and data breaches is a complex undertaking. No matter how well prepared you are to detect threats, some attacks will get past the first layer of your defences.

This will often be the case if cyber criminals find zero-day vulnerabilities (technical weaknesses that haven’t been identified by antimalware software), or they use sophisticated techniques to outsmart defences.

Organisations should prepare for these attacks by implementing robust cyber security controls and ensuring that employees know how to manage cyber security controls. 

Not all organisations need extensive cyber security measures, such as high-end, sophisticated threat detection tools and state-of-the-art technology. However, everyone must have a base level of security that’s appropriate to the threat.

Training and professional certification are an ideal place to begin. They ensure you have skilled staff to implement and maintain your security measures. 

Meanwhile, certification to schemes such as Cyber Essentials helps protect organisations from common threats and demonstrates their commitment to cyber security.

Cyber Essentials is a UK government-backed framework supported by the NCSC (National Cyber Security Centre). It sets out five basic security controls that, when implemented correctly, can protect organisations from around 80% of common cyber attacks.

The scheme is designed to help organisations of any size bolster their information security practices and obtain government contracts while minimising costs.

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Organisations looking for in-depth and bespoke guidance on their cyber security practices should perform regular penetration tests. These assessments involve professional testers (sometimes known as ethical hackers) probing an organisation’s systems using the same techniques as a criminal hacker.

Tests give organisations a real-world insight into the way a malicious actor might target their systems and enables them to see whether the protections they have implemented work as intended.

The techniques that a tester uses will depend on the type of assessment. But in most cases, they search for inadequate or improper configuration, hardware or software flaws, and/or operational weaknesses in processes or technical countermeasures.

If the tester can bypass those defences, it indicates that the organisation needs to re-evaluate or strengthen its defences.

How we can help

Whatever your resources or expertise, a defence-in-depth approach to cyber security will give you the best chance of mitigating the cyber security risks your organisation faces, so you can focus on your core business objectives without having to worry about coming under attack.

IT Governance has everything you need. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you secure your success.

A version of this article was published on 27 September 2022.