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Published March 24, 2022

Is Your Business Prepared for Cyber War?

Blog Cyber war

By now you may be aware of President Biden’s statement on the increasing risk of cyber threats. The war in Russia and Ukraine may be thousands of miles away, but cyber attacks can happen regardless of your location or relation to the attacker. The President warned that “Russia could conduct malicious cyber activity against the United States” and this is not limited to government agencies or municipalities. If the past few years have taught us anything, it’s that everything is fair game and foreign bad actors will not hesitate to target US citizens and unrelated businesses.

The Cyber Incident Reporting for Critical Infrastructure Act of 2022 has changed reporting requirements for organizations in 16 critical infrastructure sectors and more details are sure to follow. In the meantime, you can’t put this solely on your IT team – it would be an unfair responsibility to leave an organizational threat up to only one department. Your entire organization needs to remain vigilant when it comes to your cyber defenses. All it takes is one breach to temporarily shut down your operations and cause irreparable damage.

Here are eight things that you can do now to protect yourself and your business:

  1. Training, training, training. Every member of your organization needs to be on high alert and know what to do when faced with a cyber threat. If you think you’ve covered this enough in the past, communicate it again. Your employees should be aware that the stakes are high and their hyper-vigilance is needed now more than ever.
  2. Patch, update and patch again. Make sure you’re up-to-date with the latest software updates and that every employee is restarting their computers as necessary.
  3. Have a strong password policy. Educate your employees on best password practices and supplement with a multi-factor authentication program.
  4. Don’t forget about network passwords either. Change these frequently and get out of the habit of the standard “CompanyNameYear” format. This naming convention is incredibly easy to guess and can make your organization a prime target for a breach.
  5. Set up firewalls. Just installing firewalls isn’t enough – someone should be regularly monitoring your network for suspicious activity and weak points.
  6. Use the principle of least privilege. Your employees should only have access to programs and data essential to their jobs. Do your best to minimize traffic to sensitive information.
  7. Take advantage of endpoint detection and response tools. Close all endpoints, including all programs, apps, etc. your employees use on a regular basis. Forgetting this (sometimes tedious) step can leave your organization vulnerable to intrusion.
  8. Encrypt & back up everything. Encrypting your data prevents others from using it (even if it’s stolen) and having offline backups can help you continue normal operations in the event of an attack.

Knowledge is another great defensive tool. Be sure to review the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) standards and practices on a regular basis to arm your business with the most up-to-date best practices.

Having cyber insurance may not be enough in the current political climate. Cyber coverage can be nuanced (especially on attacks related to war) so be sure to have a conversation with your risk advisor about your specific policy language and what else you can do to strengthen your security.

Special thanks to our subject matter experts Reid Putnam and Charlie Vaught for their contributions to this blog.

This blog is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice. Gregory & Appel is neither a law firm nor a tax advisor; information in all Gregory & Appel materials is meant to be informational and does not constitute legal or tax advice.