Wednesday, December 12, 2018
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Cybersecurity Begins With Leadership

by Jonathan Jones

I have had two clients in the last year hit by ransomware. All their systems, including financial and client systems, were disabled. Their businesses were shut down completely. Thanks to the FBI, IT backups, and great IT support, they were able to restore business in just over a week, but it took months for everything to be restored and verified as secure. Even though they were able to avoid paying the ransom, the cost was over six figures each.

The culprit in both cases was a phishing email sent to an employee. Sixty percent of hacked small to midsize businesses go out of business after six months.
Cybersecurity begins with leadership. Leaders are responsible for the safety of their employees, both physically and virtually.

The safety of your company depends on your decisions and actions. You have to take this risk seriously, and you have to communicate how frequently this is happening. Without getting technical, here are a few leadership suggestions:

1) Make sure you have a competent IT team or vendor.

2) Establish a rigorous cybersecurity policy that is enforced from the top.

3) Ensure that your leadership team and technical team are aware of the latest cybersecurity risks.

4) Implement a security awareness and training program.

5) Regularly perform penetration tests by a certified vendor.

These measures are very high-level, but if they are not in place, you are at risk. Sixty-two percent of businesses do not have an up-to-date or active cybersecurity strategy. Based on the rate of increased cybercrime, it is not a matter of whether you will be attacked but when. As a leader, you must take this seriously and protect your business, your employees and their livelihood.

Jonathan Jones (Jonathan.jones@vistagechair.com or 314-608-0783) is a CEO peer group chair/coach for Vistage International.
Submitted 14 days ago
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