Top 10 IT Security Gaps and How to Avoid Them

November 29th 2017

A risk assessment is the most important action an organisation or business must take when it needs to identify cybersecurity gaps. Generally, the assessment process helps an organization identify risks and exposures that are available within a program. It also evaluates the potential effect of the risks identified. Even though, the main purpose of a risk assessment is to help an organisation understand cybersecurity risks to its operations, assets and individuals. During risk assessment, questions concerning the most critical internal and external cyber security threats and how to protect a business against those threats need to be answered. Once the questions have been addressed, the organisation has to check whether its fundamental points are covered. Below are the areas where most firms ordinarily miss the mark.

Risk Management and Governance

The main point this gap tries to bring through is the need for firms to enrol official governance policies throughout cyber risk management. The cyber strategy and programs come top; hence the leadership executive board must be involved in the discussions concerning cybersecurity preparedness. Chief Information Security Officers are good at overseeing a firms security posture, indulging one can help in risk management. In addition to this, broad input and support with regards to governance policies and cybersecurity practices are required across a firm. This includes individuals who should be responsible for the operation of controls put in place to secure the business.

IT Asset Management

This security gap occurs when an investment firm fails to maintain a veritable inventory of its technology assets. The inventory list includes servers, applications, workstations, and electronic devices. Most of the time, devices such as printers and phones that store information are left out of the list. The growing pack of the Internet of Things(IoT) systems such as wireless speaker systems and call equipment also fall victim to not being recognized.

The reason why everything connected to a firm`s network must be catalogued and inventoried is that it helps the firm understand its systems and the data they hold. This will then enable the firm to assess its level of risk properly and adequately protect its information and data. At least, a firm should conduct annual reviews of all its IT assets to understand any changes concerning additions and deletions made.

Vulnerability Assessments

For any firm to put in place the right defence mechanisms, it must understand its IT security vulnerabilities clearly. Regular penetration tests and vulnerability assessments enable a firm to identify potential risks to the network. This is the first critical step to remediating and resolving threats. The vulnerability assessment process involves scanning of the network to find out vulnerable areas and then creates a detailed database on known risks.

Social Engineering & User Training

The absolute impact of the social engineering tactics applied by hackers is a major security concern to organisations. Social engineering is mainly used to trick the users into divulging information. Phishing scams are posing threats of corporate account takeovers as well as business email compromise because of the hacker tricks which are usually hard to recognise. So, for an organisation to avoid such engineering scams, it has to employ a committed user training and education. Sensitising users on such matters will alert them to their common operations.

Patch Management

Patch management gives a reassurance that a firm is updated in the system and software upgrades. Appropriate and quick application of patches is what makes a successful patch management. A firm`s system administrators have to be updated on the quickest ways to manage patches; a regimented process that unveils updates automatically is suitable. Such a process ensures that attacks that exploit software vulnerability are kept at bay, resulting in zero-day threats.

Business Continuity Planning

Most firms still do not get it right when it comes to Business Continuity Planning; such firms fail to understand that this relates to the security posture of the firm. Some of the gaps involved here are listed below.

• Lack of a business recovery plan
• Outdated BCP
• A plan without a risk-based approach.
• Having the plan on paper, but employees lack knowledge of it.

These points highlight critical gaps that could lead to substantial repercussions in case a security problem occurs in the operations of a business. This calls for the need for firms to always be prepared with worthwhile continuity plans documented for recovery of business operations in case things goes wrong.

Multi-Factor Authentication

This helps the users to put in place an additional layer of security to make it hard for hackers to take advantage of gaps. This form of authentication should be used in every application and device that supports it. Some of the common authentication factors are knowledge-based, inherence-based, and possession-based. The advantage of this security measure is simple and effective.

Third Party Vendor Management

Managing vendor risk requires full-time attention, and this is where most investment management firms come short. It is critical to have a look at the DR/BCP and vulnerability assessment reports as well as data centre facility and SOC audit's certifications of the hired managed service provider. Subsequently, a firm must check if their party provider is generally updated on the issues concerning cyber security gaps. This ensures that a firm also understands the exposures and risks that arise due to its outsourced partners.

User Provisioning and Management

This involves access control, which must have very stringent and detailed policies to ensure all the sensitive information and data are restricted to the necessary persons alone. Firms need to leverage user provisioning software that facilitates processes associated with managing access and provisioning of new users. Even though, the old-fashioned way can still be employed if the IT administrators and the firm as a whole follow the principle of least privileges. Access control allows firms to safeguard confidential data and information such as the company`s investor information or its financials.

Incident Response Planning

This is a gap that most firms fall prey. They fail to document necessary policies for combating cyber incidences. Cyber incidents come in various forms these days, so firms must be prepared with incident response policies for handling the aftermath of an incident. Owing to the fact that security incidents are inevitable, a documentation of the right process for business resolution and impact enables a firm to react quickly and with hopes of little or no impact to operations. The goal of the plan is to guarantee the business continued operations with confidence and also minimize external exposures and risks to the farm.

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