By Dr. Linda AsharFaculty Member, Business and Dr. Andre Slonopas, Faculty Member, Cybersecurity


cybersecurity business strategy

Business strategy must include cybersecurity as part of an organization’s business plan today. Cyber attacks and threats are becoming more sophisticated, so firms must prioritize cybersecurity measures to preserve their digital assets and maintain business continuity. A security breach may cost irreparable harm to an organization’s finances and obstruct a company's ability to recover its public reputation, making a robust cybersecurity strategy essential.

To maintain a competitive edge, businesses must safeguard consumer data and other sensitive information from unauthorized individuals. Some ways to ensure cybersecurity’s integration into corporate processes include multi-factor authentication, which allows a business to protect vital assets like customer data and impose access restrictions to safeguard sensitive information. Also, regular penetration testing manages security risks, and an incident response plan ensures company continuity.

Businesses must prioritize their cybersecurity posture in their plans and business strategies. To do so, a business must safeguard its networks, ensuring that only authorized personnel have access and preventing unauthorized users from seeing proprietary information.

Good cybersecurity also involves:

  • Scanning for malware
  • Installing antivirus software to protect critical data
  • Establishing risk management techniques to address vulnerabilities
  • Preparing for data breaches if they occur

A good plan should also examine the risks provided by third-party vendors and ensure that vendors meet information security regulations. Attention to these vulnerabilities can help to prevent hackers from accessing confidential information as the result of a single data breach.

To achieve the best possible security, many businesses get assistance from cybersecurity experts armed with modern technology and tools. These security professionals will ensure a company can maintain operations while providing services. They work to secure an organization's systems, detect potential breaches, harden systems against known threats, and mitigate other cyber risks.

A complete and proactive cybersecurity plan as part of a company's business strategy preserves the trust of customers and the company's reputation. By securing its operations and digital assets, this strategy shields the organization from risks.


Security Measures to Protect Business Operations from Cyber Threats

To effectively integrate security measures, guard against cyber threats, and secure daily operations, organizations must prioritize data security. Also, they must identify risks and vulnerabilities to systems and networks and utilize access controls. When companies conduct regular audits and assessments and focus on identifying potential threats and risks, the company is more likely to reduce incidents and avoid financial losses.


Cybersecurity Strategy as a Company-Wide Commitment

Cyber security must be a company-wide priority, not simply an IT department mandate. Everyone should be trained to identify and report incidents like phishing scams, unauthorized access attempts, and unexpected network activity. Employees who are proactive and aware of risks may avert a data breach, retain customer trust, and safeguard customer information.

Data compromises may cost organizations money, reputation, and new customers. Advanced security technologies like encryption and malware prevention are highly effective in protecting sensitive data.

By integrating cybersecurity measures and a plan that goes beyond mere IT strategy, companies stand to protect themselves from the ever-changing cyber risk environment. Solid security measures involve a thorough examination of a business’s cybersecurity procedures and educating staff about the dangers and responsibilities of safeguarding systems. This proactive cybersecurity strategy helps protect the company's sensitive information and systems and strengthens its commitment to customers, workers, and stakeholders.


How Data Breaches Hurt Business Strategy

Business managers who have delegated cybersecurity concerns to an understaffed IT department have learned this approach is beyond short-sighted and actively dangerous. They have also experienced the folly of ignoring critical risks.

The lack of foresight in planning, updating, training, and monitoring has led to costly data breaches that compromised critical assets, jeopardized customers, and caused reputational damage. Morgan Stanley®, Yahoo!®, Microsoft®, Equifax®, and MGM Resorts® are notable examples of disastrous cybersecurity breaches.

Risk aversion is critical to business strategy, and a data breach could be caused for a number of reasons. Cyber attack methods include:

  • Phishing: Fake emails trick users into disclosing usernames, passwords, and financial details. According to StationX, phishing is the most common form of cybercrime and is on the rise.
  • Malware: Malicious software, such as viruses, ransomware, and spyware, can be slipped into a network from websites, emails, and downloaded email attachments. Ransomware involves malicious malware that locks up a system until money is paid by the victim. Countering ransomware is a priority of the U.S. government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).
  • Insider attacks: Untrained employees and others who can access sensitive information might intentionally or unintentionally cause security breaches by disclosing information. Based on data collected in 2022, DTEX reports a “35% increase in data theft incidents caused by employees leaving companies.”

Some security vulnerabilities within organizations include:

  • Vulnerable passwords: Short, easy-to-guess passwords and passwords that are not changed regularly are easy prey for cyber villains. According to Cybernews, weak passwords have been the root cause of significant breaches, such as the breach experienced by the North Ireland Parliament in 2018.
  • Unpatched software: Failing to update software, especially security provisions, enables instructors to gain access to networks. This failure to update software was a significant oversight in the Equifax case and interfered with its business continuity.
  • Insecure network configurations: Misconfigured firewalls and unsecured Wi-Fi networks are open invitations to system attacks.

Countering these problems requires a multi-layered approach that begins with management's comprehensive understanding of the importance of being well-informed about cyber threats and dedicating resources to cybersecurity. Although the strategic priorities of a business will depend on its industry and existing vulnerabilities, here are some essential measures.


Leadership Involvement

Leadership's commitment to cybersecurity is essential to the entire organization; otherwise, allocating resources and prioritizing security efforts is challenging. It will also be difficult to convince employees that protection measures are serious if there is no buy-in from their leaders.

Top leadership must be involved with oversight through a dedicated governance structure for a firm's security efforts, including:

  • Reporting risks and staying aware of regulatory requirements
  • Keeping current with the latest cyber threats
  • Issuing timely responses if breaches should occur
  • Committing resources toward data protection


Incorporation of a Cyber Risk Assessment into Strategic Plans

Practical risk assessment and risk management optimizes the use of resources and ensures that cybersecurity measures align with overall business goals. Ideally, a business should conduct a thorough, ongoing risk assessment to identify critical cyber assets, threats, and vulnerabilities. These cybersecurity initiatives can be aligned with broader business objectives.


Employee Training and Awareness

Employees are often the first line of defense against cyber threats, so educating them about cybersecurity best practices can significantly reduce the risk of incidents.

A business needs to conduct regular cybersecurity training programs for employees at all levels. Also, the organization should encourage security consciousness by having workers take an active role in maintaining a secure environment. There should be an incident reporting procedure and regular password updates. 


Taking a Holistic Approach to Align Cybersecurity with Business Strategy

Cybersecurity has become a commercial need for every organization, not merely a technological requirement. Businesses must tailor their cybersecurity approach to their risk landscape and business climate, a strategy that is essential for stakeholder protection and to enable businesses to maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Cyber dangers vary widely by industry and company, so a one-size-fits-all cybersecurity strategy won’t work for all business. Each business must assess its vulnerabilities based on data, technology, and position in the supply chain. This customized risk assessment will help leaders allocate resources to the most vulnerable locations.

Cybersecurity now goes beyond external threat protection. Businesses must ensure company resilience and continuity during an assault, which entails guarding against breaches and having adequate preparations to maintain corporate operations with little interruption if a breach does happen.

Companies must consider cybersecurity as essential protection – rather than an expense. Businesses that secure their data and systems properly build trust with customers, partners, and investors by preventing cyberattacks and handling them responsibly if they occur.

All layers of a company should be involved in an integrated cybersecurity strategy. From top management defining cybersecurity and business goals to staff being regularly informed and sensitive to dangers, cybersecurity is a shared duty within all organizations. Success in protecting a business requires regular training, updated regulations, and a security-conscious culture.

Today's commercial environment demands a planned, targeted strategy. Businesses can secure critical assets, preserve stakeholder confidence, and stay competitive in a digital environment by recognizing and addressing their business security needs.

Morgan Stanley is a registered trademark of Morgan Stanley.
Yahoo! is a registered trademark of Yahoo, Inc.
Microsoft is a registered trademark of the Microsoft Corporation.
Equifax is a registered trademark of Equifax, Inc.
MGM Resorts is a registered trademark of MGM Resorts International.


About the Authors

Dr. Linda Ashar is a faculty member in the Business Department of the Dr. Wallace E. Boston School of Business, teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in business, law, crisis management, and ethics. She obtained her J.D. from the University of Akron School of Law, and a M.A. in education from Kent State University. Her law practice spans more than 30 years in Ohio and federal courts. She has authored numerous articles and regularly appears on podcasts about current issues. Linda is a recipient of the Dr. Wallace E. Boston School of Business Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Dr. Andre Slonopas is a faculty member in the Department of Cybersecurity. He holds a Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Virginia. Andre has written dozens of articles and book chapters and regularly presents at scientific conferences.

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