Many businesses have at least some kinds of cybersecurity plan in place, but not all cybersecurity strategies are equally thorough. Most business decision makers suffer from blind spots and biases that cause them to neglect or underestimate certain risks.
How do you compensate for these and improve your cybersecurity approach?
Blind Spots, Biases, and Misperceptions
As any experienced IT consultant will tell you, human beings are imperfect. Even people with experience in cybersecurity are capable of making mistakes, mismanaging risks, and being blind to their own limitations.
These are some of the most common blind spots, biases, and misperceptions that affect people:
- Risk identification. Some people struggle with risk identification. They may not know exactly what risks can affect them and their business, and they may be completely blind to new types of threats that are emerging. As an example, social engineering scams have been common for many years, but they’re continually evolving; emails with claims of being a Nigerian Prince are no longer commonly in the circulation. Instead, they’ve been replaced with much more innocuous, subtler attempts to get access to your personal information. If you’re not aware of these threats, you’ll be in a worse position to defend against them.
- Risk assessment. Similarly, it’s possible to underestimate or inaccurately estimate the weight of each individual risk. This is especially common in small businesses; small business owners may mistakenly believe that they’re incredibly unlikely to be the target of a cyberattack, due to their small and relatively non-impactful nature. But in reality, small businesses are disproportionately likely to be targeted by opportunistic cybercriminals.
- Evaluation of security strengths. Blind spots and biases may also lead you to have too much faith in the security elements you’ve already adopted. For example, using a VPN can help you remain private and secure, but it’s nowhere near being a foolproof strategy – and it still leaves you open to countless vulnerabilities. If you believe your VPN is the equivalent of a vaccination against cybercrime, you’ll open your business to countless new vulnerabilities.
- Myths and misconceptions. There are rampant myths and misconceptions about cybersecurity and cyberattacks that continue to affect business decision making at all levels. For example, some business owners believe that digital threats are exclusively an external phenomenon, while internal threats can be just as destructive, if not more so. This is a massive category, and as best practices and recommendations change, more and more business owners fall prey to being misinformed.
- Human limitations and vulnerabilities. Human beings are subject to a wide range of cognitive biases that affect how we perceive the world and calculate risk. If you’re not prepared to compensate for these innate cognitive flaws, you’re going to be negatively affected by them.
How to Compensate for Blind Spots and Biases in Your Security Strategy
The question is, how exactly are you supposed to compensate for these blind spots and biases? After all, you may not even be aware they exist.
These are the best strategies to utilize:
- Work with an external team. One of the best ways to compensate for your own limitations is to work with an external team. Hiring more experienced, skilled people for your own team can also work, but it’s hard to match the perception expansion potential of working with an external partner. The only catch here is that you need to choose an IT partner with ample experience and a proven track record of success, as not all IT firms are equally competent.
- Assume your assumptions are false. Be ready to challenge your assumptions. In fact, you can go a step further and assume your assumptions are false. Trying to prove that your assumptions are false can get you closer to the truth than blindly assuming what you already know is correct.
- Pay attention to the news. There are a handful of types of cyberattacks that have been common for decades and will likely be common for decades to come. But new cyberattacks and threats are constantly evolving.
- Regularly conduct audits and reviews. It’s important to regularly audit your IT strategy and cybersecurity best practices. A thorough review can help you identify weak points and obsolete elements, so you can address them before it’s too late.
As human beings, we all have limitations in how we think and how we see the world. There’s really no getting around it. But what we can do is acknowledge our imperfections and instate new services and protocols that help us compensate for those imperfections. As long as you’re proactively working to improve the robustness of your cybersecurity defenses, and you’re aware of your own limitations, you’ll be in a much better position to keep your organization secure.