Cybersecurity Risk Questions Every Company Should Ask

When a data breach or other cyberattack occurs, the damages can be significant, often resulting in lawsuits, and serious financial losses. What’s more, online security can impact businesses of all kinds, regardless of their size, industry, or status as a private or public entity.

In order for organizations to truly protect themselves from cyberbullying, companies must play an active role. Not only does involvement from leadership improve cybersecurity, it can also reduce their liability. To help oversee their organization’s cyber- risk management, companies should ask the following questions:

Does the organization utilize technology to prevent data breaches?
Every company must have robust cybersecurity tools and anti-virus systems in place. These systems act as a first line of defense for detecting and preventing potentially debilitating breaches.

While it may sound obvious, many organizations fail to take cyberthreats seriously and implement even the simplest protections. Companies can help highlight the importance of online security, ensuring that basic, preventive measures are in place.

Has the company’s management team identified a senior member to be responsible for organizational cybersecurity preparedness?
Organizations that fail to create cybersecurity leadership roles could end up paying more for a data breach than organizations that do. This is because, in the event of a cyber incident, a fast response and clear guidance is needed to contain a breach and limit damages.

When establishing a digital leadership role, companies need to be involved in the process. Online security leaders should have a good mix of technical and business experience. This individual should also be able to explain cyber-risks and mitigation tactics at a high level so they are easy to understand for those who are not well-versed in technical terminology.

Hiring a chief information security officer or creating a new digital leadership role is not practical for every organization. In these instances, organizations should identify a qualified, in-house team member and roll cybersecurity responsibilities into their current job requirements. At a minimum, companies should ensure that their company has a go-to cybersecurity resource.

Does the organization have a comprehensive cybersecurity program? Does it include specific policies and procedures?
It is essential for companies to create comprehensive data privacy and cybersecurity programs. These programs help organizations build a framework for detecting threats, remain informed on emerging risks and establish a cyberattack response plan.

Companies should ensure that cybersecurity programs align with industry standards. These programs should be audited on a regular basis to ensure effectiveness and internal compliance.

Does the organization have a breach response plan in place?
Even the most secure organizations can be impacted by a data breach. What’s more, it can often take days or even months for a company to notice its data has been compromised.
While cybersecurity programs help secure an organization’s digital assets, breach response plans provide clear steps for companies to follow when a cyberattack occurs. Breach response plans allow organizations to notify impacted customers and partners quickly and efficiently, limiting financial and reputational damage.

Companies should ensure that crisis management and breach response plans are documented. Specific actions noted in breach response plans should also be rehearsed through simulations and team interactions to evaluate effectiveness. Additionally, response plans should clearly identify key individuals and their responsibilities. This ensures that there is no confusion in the event of a breach and your organization’s response plan runs as smoothly as possible.

Has the organization discussed and formalized a cyber-risk budget? How engaged is management in terms of providing guidance related to online exposures?
Both overpaying and underpaying can negatively affect an organization. Creating a budget based on informed decisions and research helps companies invest in the right tools.

Has management provided adequate employee training to ensure sensitive data is handled correctly?
While employees can be a company’s greatest asset, they also represent one of their biggest online liabilities. This is because hackers commonly exploit employees through phishing and similar scams. When this happens, employees unknowingly give criminals access to their employer’s entire system. In order to ensure data security, organizations must provide thorough employee training. Management should help oversee this process and make training programs meaningful and based on more than just written policies.

Has management taken the appropriate steps to reduce online security when working with third parties?
Working alongside third-party vendors is common for many businesses. Management can help ensure that vendors and other partners are aware of their organization’s cybersecurity expectations. The company’s management team should draw up a standard third-party agreement that identifies how the vendor will protect sensitive data, and whether the vendor will subcontract any services, and how it intends to inform the organization if data is compromised.

Does the organization have a system in place for staying current on online trends, news, and federal, state, industry and international data security regulations?
Digital legislation can change with little warning, often having a sprawling impact on the way organizations do business. If organizations do not keep up with federal, state, industry and international data security regulations, they could face serious fines or other penalties.\Companies should ensure the chief information security officer is aware of his or her role in upholding online compliance. In addition, they should ensure that there is a system in place for identifying, evaluating and implementing compliance-related legislation.

Additionally, companies should constantly seek opportunities to bring expert perspectives into security related discussions. Often, authorities from government, law enforcement and cybersecurity agencies can provide invaluable advice. Building a relationship with these types of entities can help organizations evaluate their digital strengths, weaknesses and critical needs.

Has the organization conducted a thorough risk assessment? Has the organization purchased or considered purchasing cyber liability insurance?
Cyber liability insurance is specifically designed to address the risks that come with using modern technology—risks that other types of business liability coverage simply won’t cover.

The level of coverage you need varies on the company’s range of exposure. This article is provided by Zywave, which offers Association members resources at no cost.

To activate your cybersecurity benefit, go to Click on “forgot password” and follow the prompts to create a login.
Contact Membership Director, Matt Rice, in the Association office at (314) 878-2304 or via email at if you experience issues or have questions.