CIA Model – The Cybersecurity Guidelines for Small Teams

Cybercrimes cost small and medium businesses (SMBs) in the U.S. over $2 million in 2020. In total, 2020 saw a 424% increase in cyber attacks targeting SMBs compared to 2019. If cybersecurity wasn’t a priority for 2020, these numbers might convince you otherwise:

– 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses.

– 60% of small businesses that are victims of a cyber attack go out of business within six months.

– Cyberattacks caused by compromised employee passwords cost $383,365 on average.

One of the reasons for this increase in cybercrimes on SMBs is the lack of a dedicated cybersecurity team and good cybersecurity hygiene. Although small teams often suffer from limited resources, you can still build a strong defense if you use your resources smartly. The key to smart allocation of resources to cybersecurity projects is to focus on a strong foundation grounded by the CIA triad: Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability.

  1. Confidentiality

The most popular visualization of cybersecurity for people is the image of restriction: making sure only the right person has the right access to information. Setting a password for your device is an excellent example of restricting access to data and devices. Restriction falls under confidentiality, making it the most well-known leg of the triad.

In cybersecurity, confidentiality is the property that only authorized people have access to certain data. Although confidentiality and privacy are often confused, the two words are not interchangeable. Confidentiality is a component of data privacy that prevents unauthorized users and processes gaining access to your data. Conversely, your system also needs to ensure authorized users can gain visibility of privilege data according to their authorization level.

Confidentiality breaches might result from direct attacks or human errors. In direct attacks, cybercriminals may seek to gain access to the systems or view restricted data. Human errors, on the other hand, often happen due to carelessness of employees. Something as simple as not logging off after finishing work or sharing your credentials with others may end up tearing a hole in your data Confidentiality.  The consequences? Both legal and financial implications that you don’t want to deal with.

Preserving your systems or networks’ confidentiality is critical in protecting data privacy, especially for financial and healthcare organizations. Private data is high-value assets in the eyes of cybercriminals, making it a prime target for theft. A health record in the black market may be valued up to $1,000 compared to the next one in value at $5.40. It’s like walking with a target on your back.

The pitfall of confidentiality? Passwords. 63% of confirmed data breaches leverage a weak, default, or stolen password. On top of that, cyberattacks caused by compromised employee passwords cost $383,365 on average. So weed out those weaknesses before they become a major gap in your cyber defense.

An experienced cybersecurity team like Saisystems Technologies can help you identify potential gaps in your cybersecurity and build targeted solutions to address imminent weaknesses.

  1. Integrity

Integrity is closely related to confidentiality and also a critical component in running a successful security program. Integrity is defined as the completeness, accuracy and trustworthiness of data over its entire lifecycle. That means data cannot be modified by unauthorized people or in an undetected manner.

Data may be altered during transfer or due to physical corruption in storage devices. The former are usually direct results of malicious attempts to manipulate data and influence key decisions. As data drives more and more business decisions, it needs to undergo multiple changes and manipulation to become actionable insights for business leaders, opening up vulnerabilities for malicious alteration attempts. Although many attacks on data integrity carry malicious intentions, such as influencing a business decision, human errors also have their fair share in tampering with data trustworthiness.

Read-only files are examples of the most basic data integrity processes against human errors. On a system scale, you can employ hashing, encryption, digital certificates, and digital signature to ensure every modification and trackable and eliminate integrity gaps in your system. Adequate cybersecurity awareness training for employees will also reinforce your security during the process of data manipulation to reveal insights.

Learn more about cybersecurity awareness training here.

  1. Availability

Of all the three legs of the CIA triad, availability receives the least amount of attention from SMBs due to the lack of dedicated personnel in charge. However, it’s key to preventing disruptions in service and productivity.

Availability refers to the system’s ability to provide data consistently and readily to authorized parties at any time. The level of performance relies heavily on the infrastructure and the systems that store and display the data.

A common type of attack on data availability is flooding the systems with traffic in a denial-of-service attack. Such an attack does not disclose or access any private data but paralyzes your systems and disrupts operations and services. 40% of small businesses experienced eight or more hours of downtime due to a cyber breach. This downtime accounts for an average of $1.56 million in losses.

The best way to keep your systems up and running is to ensure it can take on the additional workload and have backups to restore service quickly should a systems failure occur. Maintenance of hardware, close monitoring of bandwidth usage and a robust roadmap for disaster recovery can also offer extra protection against weaknesses in data availability.

Executives oftentimes do not understand the technical side of cybersecurity and think of availability as an easy fix, but to resolve an availability incident requires collaboration from multiple departments, such as network and development operations. If you find yourself in that position, it’s a good idea to bring in third-party experts to help with system reinforcement and cross-team coordination.

CTA: Learn more about your systems’ vulnerability with penetration testing.

How can SMBs utilize the CIA model for cybersecurity

The CIA model can serve as a guideline for SMBs on where to spend their limited resources to have the most impacts. Cybersecurity is evolving every day, and it can be hard to keep up with emerging threats. Along with good cybersecurity hygiene, the CIA model to security can help businesses build a strong foundation that can support business expansion and complicated processes in the future.

54% of small businesses think they’re too small for a cyberattack, but the reality is that 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses. Security breaches directly impact your bottom lines in terms of downtime, cost of restoring normal operations and any financial consequences of lost data. If you don’t have dedicated personnel for cybersecurity, consider utilizing a third party to prevent those attacks before it happens.

Don’t wait until an attack happens to start building your cybersecurity. Good cybersecurity hygiene, regular penetration testing and a strong foundation grounded by the CIA model can keep you safe and save you thousands of dollars in damage control and repair.

Start now with a free consultation with Saisytems’ experts. 

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