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Business cybersecurity: Take a lesson from Custer’s last stand

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On June 25, 1876, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer started into a conflict he was vastly under-prepared for. That conflict would cost him his life, and half the lives of the entire 7th Cavalry.

Custer was fighting in the Great Sioux War with admirable success before the infamous battle. In the days leading up to the conflict referred to as the Battle of the Little Bighorn or Custer’s Last Stand, Custer was misinformed on the number of hostiles he would be facing. Based off the information he received from his non-incumbent allies, Custer developed a plan that would catch his enemy by surprise and limit the number of casualties. That plan went horribly wrong, and a massacre ensued.

Every business in the world is now facing a common enemy in cyber threats. Much like Lt. Col. Custer, these organizations are falling into traps because they are overconfident, misinformed, and planning for the wrong type of attacks.

According to a study performed by SolarWinds MSP, many businesses in the U.K. and the U.S. are overestimating their readiness to combat cybersecurity breaches. Ironically, most of these businesses reported a breach in the last 12 months.

The study found that 87% of businesses are confident in their cybersecurity preparedness. Of those 87%, 59% believe they are safer than last year, and 61% think they’ll be stronger in 2018 as their cybersecurity budgets grow.

This confidence is great, but much like Lt. Col. Custer’s, is misplaced. The study went on to show that 71% of the companies had at least one breach in the last year. That’s up from 29% in the previous year. Cyber attacks aren’t going away, and they are evolving. There are now more threats than we can imagine.

Custer was unprepared for the insurmountable odds he would face during the Battle of the Little Bighorn. Businesses now find themselves in front of similar odds, but there are ways to avoid a cybersecurity massacre.

The SolarWinds study lists 7 pitfalls that businesses can avoid to stay on top of their game. They are:

  1. Inconsistency: 68% of organizations don’t reliably apply or audit security policies.
  2. Negligence: Only 16% prioritized user awareness training.
  3. Shortsightedness: 6 out of 9 top cybersecurity technologies were not deployed by most.
  4. Complacency: 29% can call their vulnerability reporting “robust.”
  5. Inflexibility: Only 44% rolled out new tech after the breach.
  6. Stagnation: Fewer than 50% adopted the 9 leading prevention techniques.
  7. Lethargy: Detection times have grown for 40%, response times have grown for 44%, resolution times have grown for 46%.

Cybersecurity breaches can be extremely costly for a business, so you must be ready to fight. You wouldn’t go into battle unprepared, and overconfidence could be your greatest enemy when facing cyber threats. Train your employees and establish good security practices. Inform yourself of the threats regularly, because the industry and hacker tactics are always changing.  Do whatever it takes to avoid your own last stand.

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