The Most Important Questions to Ask a Cyber Security Consultant
Approximately 14 million businesses in the United States are at risk of becoming victims of hacking and cyber crime each year. 31%, or 4.34 million, of these organizations have already suffered cyber attacks on their operational technology infrastructure. With increasing numbers of businesses relying on computers to store sensitive data, the likelihood of an attack is expected to continue to increase. It is imperative to safeguard your organization against these attacks, and hiring a cyber security consultant can be the most effective option. Below are key questions to consider when choosing the correct cyber security consultant for your business.
1. Have you worked with businesses in my industry before?
With knowledge from previous experience, the consultant will also be better prepared to assess your company's overall security risks and architect the best solutions to keep your company safe.
Many cyber threats are uniquely tailored to individual industries or geographical areas. As such, a cyber security consultant with previous industry experience will most likely have already encountered your industry's common threats.
An indicator that the consultant is an expert in your industry is their ability to explain their experience, and resulting strategy, to you with clarity. If they are unable to clearly define their process, it is likely that they personally do not understand, and will be inadequate at identifying, fixing, and preventing security risks as they develop.
2. Do you have references we can contact?
The best way to decide if the consultant is the best fit for your business is to speak with their current or past clients.
If their clients have great things to say, it is likely that you will also be happy partnering with the firm. If not, heed the warning and continue your search elsewhere.
Also, don't be afraid to do a quick search for reviews online. Places like Google, Yelp, and even LinkedIn can help you decide if a firm's claims and experience are legitimate.
3. What types of regulations and safety requirements does my business need to comply with?
This question ties in with Question 1; every industry has different legal regulations and compliance standards that your business must meet.
It is imperative that your business is well protected against cyber security threats without violating any legal requirements. The consultant should be able to address not only which regulations and safety requirements apply, but also the strategy for remaining compliant.
4. Who will be performing the security assessment and inspection?
An assessment of the vulnerabilities of your current computer systems and network must take place before a cyber security strategy can be built. During the assessment process, your information is vulnerable. While granting access to your system is necessary to perform the assessment, if mishandled it could lead to your sensitive information getting hacked or leaked.
A cyber security consultant will either perform the security assessment in-house, or outsource it to contract workers.
If the assessments will be performed in-house by your consultant firm, their employees should already be trained on the proper, secure way to handle the assessment process. If the consultant contracts out, ensure that you are familiar and comfortable with the training process that the contracted firm follows. Knowing that the individuals conducting the assessment will protect and respect your company's private information is imperative.
5. How will you help us keep our employees from exposing sensitive information?
A comprehensive cyber security strategy should be designed to recognize and eliminate threats from all angles, not simply patch a few internal structural flaws.
Even with firewalls, software, and monitoring, the most crucial asset in an effective cyber security strategy is your employees. Your cyber security consultant should train your employees about how to better prevent cyber threats. (Learn more about the 9 most common reasons for data leakage.)
The most basic training that your employees should receive is instruction concerning the creation of stronger passwords. The consultant should expand upon this, however, and also make recommendations on your company's personal device policies and the handling of information transfers from machine to machine.
No matter what structural risks are identified, the consultant should dedicate time to training your employees.
6. Do we need to worry about the security of the applications, software, or cloud-based storage systems we use?
No software program or application will ever be completely impenetrable. The cyber security consultant will be able to examine the known risks associated with those programs, however, and should help you protect against them.
During the initial assessment, the consultant should also assess how the programs you are using interact with your network. If flaws are present, they may create a more effective security protocol to protect your sensitive data, or recommend different programs that will better suit your needs. (Learn more about how to build an effective cyber security strategy.)
If the cyber security consultant dismisses the question of your applications security, however, it may indicate that they don't understand the most basic principle of cyber security: nothing is ever completely impenetrable.
7. What should we do if something happens to the network?
Though security strategies should be in place to minimize risk as much as possible, the risk of losing sensitive data will always be present. As such, your cyber security consultant should have a recovery plan in the event that something does happen to the network.
The consultant should also ensure that your team feels confident in their understanding of the recovery plan. The consultant should outline the specific steps that they will be taking on their end, as well as the steps that you will need to take. Additionally, they should make sure that each of your employees feels confident in their understanding of their unique role concerning what to do to recover the sensitive information quickly.
The Right Cyber Security Consultant
With the security of your business's sensitive data at risk, it is imperative that you choose the right cyber security consultant. These questions were designed to cut past the pitch and probe to the heart of the matter: is the strategy comprehensive and thus, effective.
If you are interested in continuing the discussion about choosing the right cyber security consultant, contact us today.