Strong cyber security plans are both proactive and reactive. Do everything you can to prevent a breach from happening but also make sure you’re prepared if — or, more accurately, when — a breach occurs. Prevention alone is not enough.

Creating and managing a comprehensive cyber security plan is no easy feat, but there are simple and attainable steps that go a long way toward making prevention and mitigation less painful. If you haven’t done these three things, start putting plans in place now to greatly reduce your vulnerability.

Get insured

Target’s massive 2013 data breach caused about $300 million in damages, and the company’s cyber insurance policy covered $90 million of that. Had the company’s purchased more insurance, the entire bill could have been covered.

Small and medium-sized businesses aren’t likely to face damages of Target proportions, but it’s all relative, right? The company’s profits were cut in half shortly after the breach, and that kind of loss is damaging to any business.

Cyber breach insurance varies widely from one policy to the next in terms of cost, what it covers and what it excludes, so it’s important to do your research first to understand what you’re buying. Generally, a policy might cover legal fees, payments to forensic firms, customer notification costs and the like. But much of this is negotiable, so you can push for the coverage you want most.

Because cyber security insurance is relatively new, it has not yet been widely adopted. The Insurance Journal estimates that half of U.S. firms don’t have it and 27 percent have no plans to buy it in the future. As the data breach epidemic grows, however, these numbers are likely to change.

Examine your controls

There are two components to this: making sure you have all the right prevention systems or tools in place and staying on top of who has system access.

As far as systems go, the Forbes Finance Council recommends a combination of data encryption, hardware security, two-factor authentication to verify users, anti-ransomware tools and security update patches. Many organizations avoid or put off implementing and updating these tools because of the high initial cost without considering how expensive a data breach would be. Equifax skipped security patches prior to its breach, which ended up costing about $1 billion.

For the second part, you should always be examining and re-examining who has access to your company’s technology, why, and at what level. Employees, partners and contractors should be thoroughly vetted before access is allowed. Even then, everyone should have the minimum level of access needed to do their jobs.

An important protection tool businesses often overlook is employee monitoring software. While we’re busy trying to ward off hackers, most companies don’t realize that their own employees are more likely to cause a breach, whether maliciously or by accident. Monitoring tools alert you to dangerous or suspicious behavior so you can stop it before a data breach occurs.

Use predictive technology

No one has been able to get a crystal ball working just yet, but technology is getting better at predicting the future. In a nutshell, predictive analytics forecasts the future based on what’s happened in the past. Machine learning (ML) is used to constantly train algorithms how to make predictions based on historical data.

Though the technology is still maturing, predictive analytics are a must in any modern cyber security prevention plan. Risks and threats can be detected in real time by pinpointing unusual patterns or behaviors – long before a human would. Once these potential threats are detected, a human can investigate them further.

Paired with traditional security tools and software, predictive analytics can make your company much faster and more efficient at spotting risks, which can greatly reduce the devastating effects of a breach or even prevent one altogether.

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