Is ChatGPT Taking Over Your Business? Balancing Factors and Weighing Costs and Benefits

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a transformative force across industries, including business. As AI technologies continue to advance, business owners face the decision of whether to integrate AI into their operations. While AI offers numerous benefits, such as improved efficiency and decision-making, it also raises concerns and tradeoffs that need to be carefully considered. This edition of the our expert cyber insights aims to provide an unbiased and informative breakdown of the main factors influencing AI adoption in business, including business leadership, execution, cybersecurity, business growth, and risk management. By examining these factors and the associated difficulties, business owners can make informed decisions about integrating AI into their operations.
 

Key Considerations

Business Leadership: Guiding the AI Adoption Journey

Implementing AI in a business requires strong leadership and vision. Business leaders play a crucial role in setting strategic goals, identifying AI use cases, and aligning AI initiatives with business objectives. However, they must also navigate the challenges associated with AI adoption. One such challenge is the need for upskilling and reskilling the workforce to leverage AI technologies effectively. Balancing investment in AI talent and resources is essential for successful AI integration.

Execution: Translating AI Ambitions into Reality

While AI holds great potential, the execution of AI initiatives can be complex. The successful deployment of AI systems relies on factors such as data quality, infrastructure, and integration with existing systems. Collecting and preparing relevant data for AI models is a critical step, as it influences the accuracy and reliability of AI-driven insights. Moreover, businesses must consider ethical considerations, such as bias mitigation and transparency, during the AI development process.

Cybersecurity: Safeguarding Business Data and AI Systems

As businesses increasingly rely on AI-powered solutions, cybersecurity becomes a paramount concern. AI systems often handle large volumes of sensitive data, making them attractive targets for cyber threats. Business owners must invest in robust cybersecurity measures to protect their AI systems, data, and customer information. Ensuring proper encryption, authentication, and regular security audits can help mitigate risks associated with AI adoption.

Business Growth: Accelerating Innovation and Efficiency

One of the most significant advantages of AI integration is its potential to drive business growth. AI technologies can automate routine tasks, enabling employees to focus on higher-value activities. Advanced AI algorithms can uncover valuable insights from vast amounts of data, empowering businesses to make data-driven decisions and gain a competitive edge. Furthermore, AI can fuel innovation by identifying new market opportunities and improving product development processes.

Risk Management: Addressing the Challenges of AI Adoption

AI adoption is not without its risks. While AI can enhance decision-making, it also introduces new vulnerabilities and ethical concerns. AI models may exhibit bias or make incorrect predictions, potentially leading to unintended consequences. Proper risk management strategies, such as thorough testing and monitoring, can mitigate these risks. Transparency and explainability in AI systems are crucial, ensuring accountability and regulatory compliance.

Tradeoffs and Difficulties: Finding the Right Balance

When considering AI integration, business owners must recognize the tradeoffs involved. The benefits of AI, such as increased productivity and efficiency, must be weighed against potential drawbacks, such as upfront costs, implementation challenges, and ethical considerations. It is essential to assess the readiness of the business and the impact AI will have on existing processes and employee roles. Collaborative decision-making involving stakeholders from various departments can help identify potential challenges and devise effective solutions.

The Significance of Impact Assessment: Making Informed Decisions

When deciding on the extent of AI integration, it is crucial to assess the impact on the business, employees, and customers. An impact assessment can identify areas where AI can add value and highlight potential risks or disruptions. By considering the specific needs and goals of the business, owners can determine the appropriate level of AI integration that aligns with their objectives. Additionally, clear communication and change management strategies are vital to ensure smooth transitions and minimize resistance from employees.

Key Risk Decisions

Data Security and Privacy: Business owners must assess the potential risks associated with data security and privacy when implementing AI. They should determine how sensitive data will be handled, stored, and protected throughout the AI lifecycle. This includes evaluating encryption protocols, access controls, and data governance policies to safeguard against unauthorized access or data breaches.

Ethical Use of AI: Ethical considerations surrounding AI adoption cannot be overlooked. Business owners should establish guidelines and policies to address potential biases, discrimination, and the transparency of AI systems. They must ensure that AI applications are aligned with legal and regulatory frameworks and promote fairness, accountability, and transparency.

Vendor Selection and Due Diligence: When choosing AI vendors or technology partners, business owners need to conduct thorough due diligence. This involves assessing the vendor’s reputation, track record, and security protocols. It is important to understand the vendor’s AI algorithms, data handling practices, and any potential risks associated with their offerings.

Risk Assessment and Mitigation: Prior to implementing AI, a comprehensive risk assessment should be conducted to identify potential vulnerabilities, threats, and risks specific to the business. This assessment helps business owners understand the potential impact of AI on their operations and allows them to develop risk mitigation strategies and contingency plans.

Employee Training and Change Management: The successful integration of AI requires employees to adapt to new technologies and processes. Business owners need to assess the potential risks associated with employee resistance, job displacement, or skill gaps. They should invest in comprehensive training programs to upskill and reskill employees, fostering a smooth transition and maximizing the benefits of AI adoption.

Regulatory Compliance: Business owners must stay abreast of relevant regulations and compliance requirements related to AI adoption in their industry. They should assess the potential risks and legal implications of AI integration, ensuring adherence to privacy laws, data protection regulations, and industry-specific guidelines. Compliance with these regulations mitigates legal and reputational risks.

Monitoring and Auditing: Implementing robust monitoring and auditing mechanisms is essential to ensure the ongoing performance and ethical use of AI systems. Business owners should establish regular monitoring practices to detect and address potential biases, system failures, or data drift. Conducting periodic audits of AI algorithms and processes helps maintain transparency, accountability, and adherence to established guidelines.

Contingency Planning: Despite careful planning, unforeseen circumstances and risks may arise during AI implementation. Business owners should develop contingency plans to address potential disruptions, such as system failures, cybersecurity breaches, or unintended consequences. These plans should outline steps to mitigate risks, ensure business continuity, and minimize the impact of any potential setbacks.

By addressing these immediate risk decisions, business owners and executives can proactively manage potential challenges and ensure a responsible and successful integration of AI technologies. It is essential to approach AI adoption with a focus on risk management, compliance, and ethical considerations to maximize the benefits and minimize potential downsides.

As AI technologies continue to evolve, business owners will continue to face the critical decision of whether to embrace AI in their operations. Regardless of the chosen approach, it is essential to prioritize impact assessment, addressing potential challenges, and fostering a culture of adaptability and continuous learning. With careful consideration and strategic planning, AI can be a powerful tool to drive innovation and growth in businesses of all sizes and industries.

Want to find out if your company is at risk from using AI and ChatGPT? Don’t worry, we’re here to help!

The team at Valor Cybersecurity is pleased to offer our AI Detection and Policy Assessment Service today. As a bonus for taking our best-practice assessment, we will provide you with recommended guidance for better protecting your business! We can also help you to identify your current AI exposure and ways to minimize risk going forward. Whether the Valor Team can help you now or in the future, we remain poised to support your business’ success and protection.

Author(s): Greg Tomchick 

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Demystifying Common Cyber Insurance Misconceptions: Protecting Your Business in the Digital Age

In today’s interconnected world, businesses face unprecedented cyber risks. The threat landscape continues to evolve, with sophisticated cyber-attacks targeting organizations of all sizes. In response to this growing risk, cyber insurance has emerged as a vital tool for businesses to mitigate potential financial losses and reputational damage. However, misconceptions surrounding cyber insurance persist, hindering organizations from making informed decisions about their risk management strategies. In this weeks edition of The Digital Risk Digest, we will debunk common cyber insurance misconceptions and shed light on the importance of obtaining comprehensive coverage in the digital age.

Misconception 1: “My General Liability Insurance Covers Cyber Incidents”:

One of the most prevalent misconceptions is that general liability insurance provides sufficient coverage for cyber incidents. However, general liability policies typically exclude cyber-related losses. Cyber insurance is specifically designed to address the unique risks associated with data breaches, ransomware attacks, and other cyber threats. It offers coverage for various aspects, including data breach response, forensic investigations, legal expenses, public relations efforts, and even financial losses incurred by third-party claims.

Misconception 2: “We Have Strong IT Security, So We Don’t Need Cyber Insurance”:

While implementing robust IT security measures is crucial, it does not provide complete protection against cyber threats. Cybercriminals constantly develop new techniques, making it challenging for even the most advanced security systems to guarantee 100% protection. Cyber insurance acts as an additional layer of defense, helping businesses recover from potential cyber incidents by covering financial losses, legal expenses, and other associated costs. It complements proactive security measures and provides a comprehensive risk management approach.

Misconception 3: “Only Large Corporations Need Cyber Insurance”:

Contrary to popular belief, cyber threats do not discriminate based on the size or industry of a business. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are increasingly targeted by cybercriminals due to their potential vulnerabilities. Cyber insurance is just as crucial for SMEs as it is for large corporations. It helps SMEs navigate the financial burden of a cyber incident, allowing them to recover and continue operations without significant disruption. Cyber insurance policies can be tailored to the specific needs and budget of each organization, making it accessible to businesses of all sizes.

Misconception 4: “Cyber Insurance is Expensive”:

The cost of cyber insurance is often perceived as a barrier, leading to the misconception that it is unaffordable for many businesses. However, the reality is that the cost of cyber insurance varies based on several factors, such as the size of the organization, the industry it operates in, its security measures, and the desired coverage limits. Moreover, the potential financial consequences of a cyber incident, including legal fees, data recovery, and reputational damage, can far outweigh the premium costs. Investing in cyber insurance provides financial protection and peace of mind, making it a worthwhile investment.

Misconception 5: “We Can Handle a Cyber Incident Internally”:

Some organizations believe they can handle a cyber incident internally without involving external experts or resources. However, responding to a cyber incident requires specialized knowledge and resources that may not be readily available within the organization. Cyber insurance not only provides financial coverage but also offers access to a network of professionals experienced in incident response, forensics, legal counsel, and public relations. Engaging these experts promptly can significantly minimize the impact of an incident and facilitate a faster recovery.

Misconception 6: “Cyber Insurance Encourages Negligence”:

A common misconception is that having cyber insurance may lead to a lax approach to cybersecurity. However, cyber insurance providers emphasize risk management and often require policyholders to adhere to specific security standards. This proactive approach encourages businesses to implement robust cybersecurity measures and regularly update their defenses to mitigate risks. Cyber insurance acts as a safety net in the event of a breach despite best efforts, ensuring that the financial impact is minimized. It serves as an incentive for organizations to prioritize cybersecurity and adopt best practices to reduce the likelihood of an incident occurring in the first place.

Misconception 7: “Cyber Insurance Covers All Cyber Incidents”:

While cyber insurance provides comprehensive coverage, it is essential to understand the policy details and exclusions. Each policy is tailored to the specific needs of the organization and may have limitations and exclusions. It is crucial to work closely with insurance providers to understand the scope of coverage, including incident response, business interruption, reputational harm, regulatory fines, and legal liabilities. Being aware of the policy terms and limitations ensures that businesses are adequately protected and can make informed decisions about their risk management strategies.

Misconception 8: “We Don’t Need Cyber Insurance Because We Have Backups”:

Data backups are undoubtedly essential for business continuity and recovery in the event of data loss. However, cyber insurance goes beyond data recovery. It covers a wide range of expenses, such as legal costs, notification and credit monitoring for affected individuals, public relations efforts, and regulatory fines. Moreover, cyber insurance provides financial protection against business interruption, lost revenue, and reputational damage resulting from a cyber incident. It offers a comprehensive safety net that extends beyond data recovery alone.

Misconception 9: “Cyber Insurance Isn’t Necessary in Regulated Industries”:

Organizations operating in regulated industries often assume that compliance with industry-specific regulations is sufficient protection against cyber risks. However, compliance does not guarantee immunity from cyber threats. Cyber insurance provides an extra layer of protection, covering costs associated with breaches that may not be addressed by regulatory compliance alone. It helps organizations meet legal obligations, manage reputational risks, and mitigate financial losses resulting from a cyber incident.

Misconception 10: “Cyber Insurance Is Only for External Cyber Attacks”:

While external cyber attacks, such as hacking and ransomware, are widely publicized, organizations should not overlook the risks posed by internal threats. Insider threats, unintentional errors, or disgruntled employees can also lead to data breaches and other cyber incidents. Cyber insurance typically covers both external and internal threats, ensuring that organizations are protected from a wide range of risks, regardless of the source.

Ultimately, cybersecurity is a critical business function that should be a top priority for boards. By asking the right questions of their teams, boards can gain a comprehensive understanding of their organization’s cybersecurity strategy and readiness. This includes understanding what security measures are in place, identifying the biggest cybersecurity risks facing the organization, and ensuring that employees are trained on cybersecurity best practices. By prioritizing cybersecurity and allocating adequate resources, boards can help protect their organizations against cyber threats and ensure their long-term success.

Want to find out how you can save time and money on your insurance premiums and get your organization aligned with best practices? Don’t worry, we’re here to help!

The team at Valor Cybersecurity is pleased to offer our Cybersecurity Readiness Assessment for $1199, for a limited time. As a bonus for taking our assessment, we will provide you with recommended guidance for better protecting your business, while aligning with business requirements, and a 30-minute consultation with our team of experts!

Whether the Valor Team can help you now or in the future, we remain poised to support your business’ success and protection.  

Author(s)Greg Tomchick 

Why Leading Executives Are Consolidating Their Security Program

As technology continues to advance and more businesses rely on digital infrastructure, cybersecurity threats have become increasingly prevalent. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated, and cyber attacks are becoming more frequent and more devastating. As a result, cybersecurity has become a critical issue for businesses of all sizes, from small startups to multinational corporations.

Unfortunately, many businesses are not adequately prepared to defend against cyber threats. They may have invested in some security measures, but they often lack a comprehensive cybersecurity program. This can leave them vulnerable to attacks and put their customers, employees, and stakeholders at risk.

Executives now recognize the importance of cybersecurity but seek guidance to take steps to ensure that their organizations are adequately protected. One approach that they should consider is consolidating their cybersecurity program. By bringing all of their security efforts together, in a manner that is best for the business, organizations can create a more effective and efficient security strategy.

Here are some reasons why we see executives choosing to consolidate their cybersecurity program:

Simplify Security Management

One of the biggest advantages of consolidating a cybersecurity program is that it simplifies security management. Rather than managing multiple security solutions from different vendors, executives can consolidate their security tools and strategies within a business-relevant operating model. This can reduce complexity, improve visibility, and streamline security management.

When executives have a centralized view of their cybersecurity program, they can more easily monitor and respond to security events. They can quickly identify any gaps in their security posture and take action to address them. This can help prevent security incidents and minimize the damage caused by any successful attacks.

Maximize ROI

Consolidating a cybersecurity program can also help businesses maximize their return on investment (ROI). By minimizing the number of vendors and platforms utilized, businesses can realize better pricing and terms. They can also take advantage of bundled services and receive discounts for volume purchases.

In addition, consolidating security solutions can help businesses reduce their overall security spending. Rather than investing in multiple-point solutions, businesses can invest in a single, integrated security platform that provides comprehensive protection. This can reduce duplication of effort and eliminate the need for additional security personnel.

Increase Efficiency

Consolidating a cybersecurity program can also increase efficiency. By streamlining security management and maximizing ROI, businesses can improve their security posture without sacrificing productivity. They can also reduce the time and effort required to manage security solutions, freeing up time and resources for other critical business functions.

In addition, a consolidated cybersecurity program can enable businesses to automate many security processes. This can improve the speed and accuracy of threat detection and response, reducing the risk of successful attacks.

Improve Security Posture

Perhaps the most important reason to consolidate a cybersecurity program is to improve the organization’s security posture. By implementing a comprehensive security strategy that covers all aspects of the business, executives can significantly reduce the risk of successful cyber attacks.

A consolidated cybersecurity program can provide end-to-end protection, including network security, endpoint security, data protection, and identity and access management. By taking a holistic approach to security, businesses can ensure that all potential vulnerabilities are identified and addressed.

In addition, a consolidated cybersecurity program can provide real-time threat intelligence and analysis, enabling businesses to quickly respond to emerging threats. This can help prevent successful attacks and minimize the damage caused by any successful breaches.

Meet Regulatory Compliance

Finally, consolidating a cybersecurity program can help businesses meet regulatory compliance requirements. Many industries are subject to strict data protection regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCI-DSS. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in significant fines and legal liabilities.

A consolidated cybersecurity program can help businesses meet these regulatory requirements by providing a comprehensive security framework that addresses all relevant regulations. This can help businesses avoid legal liabilities and protect their reputation.

Business leaders should consider consolidating their cybersecurity program now to improve their security posture, simplify security management, maximize their ROI, increase efficiency, and meet regulatory compliance. Consolidating a cybersecurity program can provide businesses with a comprehensive and holistic approach to security, reducing the risk of successful cyber attacks and minimizing the damage caused by any breaches. By streamlining security management and investing in an integrated security platform, businesses can improve their security posture without sacrificing productivity or increasing their security spending. Executives should prioritize cybersecurity and take steps to ensure that their organizations are adequately protected in the face of evolving cyber threats.

Want to find out if you are spending too much (or too little) on cyber-protecting your business? You are in the right place, at the right time!

The team at Valor Cybersecurity is pleased to offer our Cybersecurity Readiness Assessment for $1199, for a limited time. As a bonus for taking our assessment, we will provide you with recommended guidance for better protecting your business and a 30-minute consultation with our team of experts!

Whether the Valor Team can help you now or in the future, we remain poised to support your business’ success and protection.

Author(s): Greg Tomchick 

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Data Leak Compromises Information of Thousands of Hampton Roads Patients

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) – A data leak is impacting thousands of patients of healthcare systems around Hampton Roads, including the Sentara Health system.

Credit Control Corporation, otherwise known as R&B Corporation, fell prey to hackers, according to a report published by the Attorney General’s Office of Maine. Hackers accessed files that included patients’ personal information, including names, addresses and Social Security numbers.

Included in the breach are Children’s Specialty Group, Dominion Pathology Laboratory, Emergency Physicians of Tidewater, Medical Center Radiology, Mary Washington Healthcare, Riverside Health System, Sentara Health and Valley Health.

“We classify it as third-party risk,” said Greg Tomchick, CEO of Valor Cybersecurity. “It’s a risk of working with someone who’s working with your business, and at the end of the day, that brings a risk.”

While the origins of the hack aren’t made public, Tomchick said that 85% of cyber incidents occur through email. Commonly, bad actors monitor employees, learning their names and roles. They make email accounts nearly identical to people the employee corresponds with. They send a link, pretending to be a colleague or someone known to the victim. The victim, by clicking on the link, can open the door of the company wide open, Tomchick said.

Tenilces Adams of Norfolk said she’s a patient in the Sentara Health System. She told 10 On Your Side she was disturbed to learn that she is a victim of the attack. 

“It’s not acceptable,” Adams said. “I was real upset when I first found out. I was worried about what information do they have. It can mess up your credit or whatever. Somebody can get your identity or something like that.”

Adams said that she intends to regularly check on her credit score through a bureau such as Credit Karma or Equifax.

Victims of the data breach are offered a year of complementary credit monitoring through Kroll. Adams said she would not accept the services because she has already lost trust in CCC.

She said that she is disturbed her information was shared through an avenue intended to make her safe.

“I thought my information would be protected. You go to the doctor, you think that your information would be protected you put all your information out there to them,” she said.

Tomchick said the best way to defend against attacks like this is to train employees to recognize attempts to sneak into networks.

“It all starts with training and awareness,” he said. “So, making sure that that person who potentially clicked on the link is now trained to be able to recognize that. I think that’s really the starting point,” if the leak originated through a phishing scam. He also said that many companies are moving to advanced monitoring to filter suspicious emails before they hit employees’ inboxes.

Sentara Health released a statement through spokesman Dale Gaulding.

“Sentara is one of many CCC customers in health care and other businesses affected by this breach. CCC is providing mailed written notices of the incident and the steps they are taking to mitigate it. The security of Sentara patients’ and members’ personal information is important to us. We encourage patients or health plan members who received a letter and have additional questions to contact CCC in the manner described in the letters,” Gaulding wrote.

Check out the full story: Data leak compromises information of thousands of Hampton Roads patients (wavy.com)

Want to find out how you can prevent this from impacting your organization? Don’t worry, we’re here to help!

Give us a call at (757) 276-8412 or email us at service@valor-cybersecurity.com

Whether the Valor Team can help you now or in the future, we remain poised to support your business’ success and protection.  

Taking Action: A Practical Guide to Enhancing Your Cybersecurity

With the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyber threats, taking action to safeguard your business has become more critical than ever. Cybersecurity breaches can lead to severe financial losses, reputation damage, and legal consequences. To empower and guide our clients in their journey towards robust cybersecurity, we have compiled this article to outline actionable steps you can take to enhance your organization’s security posture.

 

Develop a Comprehensive Cybersecurity Strategy:

To effectively protect your business, it is essential to have a well-defined cybersecurity strategy. Start by assessing your organization’s assets, identifying potential risks and vulnerabilities, and determining the level of protection required for each asset. This holistic approach will help you prioritize security investments and allocate resources appropriately.

Educate and Train Employees:

Employees are often the weakest link in an organization’s cybersecurity defenses. Investing in comprehensive cybersecurity awareness and training programs is crucial. Educate your employees about common cyber threats, social engineering techniques, and best practices for data protection. Encourage strong password hygiene, the use of multi-factor authentication, and regular software updates. By fostering a cybersecurity-conscious culture, you can significantly reduce the risk of human error leading to breaches.

Implement Robust Access Controls:

Unauthorized access is a common entry point for cyber attackers. Implement strong access controls, such as least privilege principles, to ensure that users only have access to the resources necessary for their roles. Regularly review and update user privileges and permissions, disabling accounts of former employees promptly. Additionally, consider implementing multi-factor authentication (MFA) for an extra layer of security.

Regularly Update and Patch Software:

Outdated software and unpatched vulnerabilities provide opportunities for cybercriminals to exploit your systems. Establish a robust patch management process to ensure that all software, operating systems, and applications are up to date with the latest security patches. Consider using automated tools to streamline the patching process and minimize the window of exposure to potential threats.

Implement Strong Data Protection Measures:

Protecting sensitive data is paramount. Encrypt your data both at rest and in transit to ensure that even if it falls into the wrong hands, it remains secure. Regularly back up your data and test the restoration process to ensure its integrity and availability. Consider implementing data loss prevention (DLP) solutions to monitor and prevent unauthorized data exfiltration.

Establish Incident Response and Business Continuity Plans:

Despite the best preventive measures, breaches can still occur. Establish an incident response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a security incident. This plan should include procedures for containment, eradication, and recovery, as well as guidelines for communication and stakeholder management. Additionally, develop a business continuity plan to ensure that critical operations can continue in the face of a cybersecurity incident.

Engage a Professional Cybersecurity Partner:

Navigating the complex and ever-changing cybersecurity landscape can be overwhelming. Engaging a professional cybersecurity partner can provide the expertise and resources necessary to enhance your organization’s security posture. A cybersecurity partner can conduct regular security assessments, implement advanced security technologies, and provide 24/7 monitoring and response capabilities to mitigate risks effectively.

Ultimately, taking action to enhance your organization’s cybersecurity is a proactive step towards safeguarding your business against the ever-increasing threats in the digital world. By developing a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, educating employees, implementing robust access controls, keeping software up to date, protecting sensitive data, establishing incident response and business continuity plans, and engaging a professional cybersecurity partner, you can significantly strengthen your organization’s defenses. Remember, cybersecurity is an ongoing effort, requiring continuous monitoring, adaptation, and improvement to stay ahead of emerging threats.

Want to find out if you are spending too much (or too little) on cyber-protecting your business? You are in the right place, at the right time!

The team at Valor Cybersecurity is pleased to offer our Cybersecurity Readiness Assessment for $1199, for a limited time. As a bonus for taking our assessment, we will provide you with recommended guidance for better protecting your business and a 30-minute consultation with our team of experts!

Whether the Valor Team can help you now or in the future, we remain poised to support your business’ success and protection.

Author(s): Greg Tomchick 

If you like our content, please subscribe today and check out our other channels.

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Understanding the Roles of Readiness Partners and Assessors in Achieving Your CMMC Compliance: A Guide for Defense Contractors

The Cyber Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) is a rigorous standard that aims to improve cybersecurity in the defense industry supply chain.

Achieving compliance with the CMMC can be a complex and challenging process, but working with Readiness Partners and Assessors can help organizations navigate the requirements and ensure their security posture aligns with the CMMC framework.

Readiness Partners play a critical role in the CMMC compliance process by guiding organizations in implementing security controls and practices that meet the CMMC requirements. RPs help identify gaps in an organization’s security posture, provide guidance on how to address them, and prepare the organization for the official assessment process. It is important to note that RPs are not authorized to conduct official CMMC assessments or issue certifications. Instead, they focus on proactive implementation and preparation for the assessment.

Engaging a Readiness Partner can be a cost-effective way for organizations to prepare for the assessment and allocate their internal resources efficiently. These partners offer tailored solutions to meet the specific needs of the organization and help them gain a competitive advantage while aligning with the latest cybersecurity requirements.

On the other hand, Assessors are authorized by the CMMC Accreditation Body to conduct official CMMC assessments and determine an organization’s level of compliance. CCAs evaluate an organization’s implementation of security controls and practices and issue certifications based on the level of compliance achieved. It is important to note that the organization conducting the readiness assessment may not conduct the formal assessment to maintain the integrity of the actual assessment.

Valor Cybersecurity is a Readiness Partner (RP) with deep defense expertise and in-depth knowledge of the Department of Defense’s contracting process under the DFARS rules. They offer phased, tailored, and proactive solutions to help organizations achieve CMMC compliance. Valor conducts a gap analysis against CMMC cybersecurity standards and provides a prioritized roadmap for near and long-term security enhancement strategies. Valor’s partnership ensures that their clients’ security and business resilience are improved, and they can continue to bid on and win DoD contracts.

Ultimately, achieving CMMC compliance is a critical component for organizations seeking to do business with the DoD. Working with a Readiness Partner can help organizations efficiently prepare for the official assessment and allocate resources effectively. Organizations should partner with a reputable Readiness Partner with expertise in the CMMC framework and the DFARS rules to ensure their security posture aligns with the latest cybersecurity requirements.

Don’t feel ready for these changes? Don’t worry, we’re here to help!

Getting your organization fully prepared for CMMC requirements could take up to 12 months. But what would you say if you could identify relevant cybersecurity threats and gaps in requirements, on your own time and at your own pace? You’re in luck because we’ve done just that!

The team at Valor Cybersecurity is pleased to offer our Cybersecurity Readiness Assessment for $1199, for a limited time. As a bonus for taking our assessment, we will provide you with recommended guidance for better protecting your business and a 30-minute consultation with our team of experts!

Whether the Valor Team can help you now or in the future, we remain poised to support your business’ success and protection.

Authors: Lanre Olatunji and Greg Tomchick 

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Mind the Gap – Cybersecurity as a Strategic Imperative for Your Business with Greg Tomchick, Partner & CEO, Valor Cybersecurity

Mind the Gap: Cybersecurity as a Strategic Imperative for Your Business

The more we use technology, the more we’re exposed to potential cybersecurity attacks and breaches.

And let’s be honest, technology isn’t going anywhere.

If anything, it’s becoming a more important part of our lives and businesses, which exposes small and medium-sized business owners to more risk than ever before. And with this risk comes a need to tighten cybersecurity protocols and ensure they are protected from a potential attack.

To make that goal a reality for small businesses Greg Tomchick, spoke with us on a recent episode of the Stride to Freedom podcast. Greg is the CEO of Valor Cybersecurity and is on a mission to help any size business identify and manage potential risks.

Greg’s Story

His passion for cybersecurity didn’t just come out of the blue—it came from a very real and very costly cybersecurity breach.

While operating a software development firm, Greg and his team helped other companies manage their technologies—software, apps, websites, and everything else a business needs. But, at that time, he was not focused enough on protecting the things they were building.

Because of that, they were exposed to threats.

And, sure enough, Greg’s team suffered a devastating cybersecurity attack that impacted many of their clients and cost six figures to turn around. When seeking help, Greg couldn’t find any local companies that supported small businesses through cybersecurity breaches.

So, he set out to create one. Valor was born from the necessity of small companies to have support, knowledge, and expertise in the cybersecurity area.

Where to Start with Cybersecurity?

Many small businesses understand there are real threats out there, but the biggest question most have is—where do I even start?

Greg and his team at Valor always begin their engagement with a holistic cyber/economic risk assessment. This is the proactive side of cybersecurity because it evaluates potential risks and vulnerabilities. A risk assessment may look at:

  • Product development lifecycle to ensure it’s secure from beginning concepts to the end product.
  • Database protection through multi-factor login and access control.
  • Business processes gaps where security threats can be exploited
  • Potential areas of risk that can be adjusted and fixed

Then there’s the reactive side. If a cyber-attack does happen, what’s a business to do? Valor provides a 24/7 hotline service for their customers and can deploy experts to the worksite within 24 hours. They start right away to sift through information and figure out what happened. This allows them to quickly diagnose the issue and start to resolve it.

Every small business needs their proactive and reactive plan—cyber-attacks are too real of a threat to ignore it.

Cybersecurity to Save Money

If protecting private data is not enough of a motivation to prioritize cybersecurity, money definitely is.

In his own experience, a cyber-attack cost Greg six figures to fix and in the end, even that wasn’t enough to save his company. Cyber-attacks are terribly destructive, in terms of time, money, and resources.

There are two ways to save money by prioritizing cybersecurity in your small business:

  • Avoiding costly cyber attacks through proactive security measures.
  • Reducing cyber insurance premiums by demonstrating to insurance providers that your company is less of a liability to them is the other.

Valor helps clients both ways. The second is an interesting concept—Valor provides a comprehensive report for companies testifying that they’ve reduced their risk. This can then be brought to an insurance provider to negotiate lower rates, saving the business thousands of dollars in premiums.

There’s so much more in the world of cybersecurity. If you’re interested, listen to the full episode with Greg on the Stride to Freedom podcast. There we talk more about the differences between cybersecurity and IT, and how tools alone are not enough to solve a problem.

If you want to connect with Greg, find him on LinkedIn. Also check out Valor Cybersecurity, also on LinkedIn.

The Stride to Freedom podcast is hosted by Stride Services.  Contact us today to learn more about our back-office accounting and CFO services, including stable and efficient bookkeeping, cash flow management, and actionable analytics for growth. You’ll enjoy this Podcast episode with Greg.

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We are fortunate to have Greg available to spend time with us on this edition of Stride 2 Freedom. If there is a speaker you’d like us to interview, click here and let us know. Stay well. Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Show Notes and Links From Episode:

Greg Tomchick: LinkedIn

Valor Cybersecurity: Website/LinkedIn

Greg Tomchick: Top 10 Takeaways

Greg Tomchick: info@valor-cybersecurity.com

Assess Your Vendor Risk or Pay The Ultimate Price

With the increasing reliance on technology for business operations, it is critical to ensure that all systems and data are secure. However, many companies often overlook one important aspect of cybersecurity – assessing the risks of their vendors.

Vendors play a significant role in the operations of many businesses. From providing IT services to supplying materials and products, vendors have access to sensitive information and systems. If a vendor’s cybersecurity is compromised, it can have a significant impact on your business, including data breaches, financial loss, and damage to your reputation.

Therefore, it is essential to assess the cybersecurity risks of your vendors to ensure that your business and data are secure. In this article, we will explore the importance of assessing vendor cybersecurity risks and provide actionable steps that businesses can take to ensure vendor security.

Why is Vendor Cybersecurity Risk Assessment Important?

Vendor cybersecurity risk assessment is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, vendors often have access to sensitive data and systems that are critical to your business operations. If a vendor is compromised, this could result in data breaches or other cyber attacks that could harm your business.

Secondly, regulatory bodies and industry standards require businesses to ensure that their vendors meet specific security standards. For example, the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) requires businesses that accept credit card payments to ensure that their vendors meet certain security standards.

Finally, assessing the cybersecurity risks of your vendors can help you identify potential vulnerabilities and implement measures to mitigate those risks. This proactive approach can help you prevent cyber-attacks and reduce the risk of data breaches.

Actionable Steps for Assessing Vendor Cybersecurity Risks

Assessing vendor cybersecurity risks can be a daunting task, but there are several actionable steps that businesses can take to ensure vendor security. Here are some of the most important steps to follow:

1 – Identify and classify your vendors

The first step in assessing vendor cybersecurity risks is to identify all of your vendors. This includes vendors that provide IT services, supply materials or products, or have access to sensitive data.

Once you have identified your vendors, you should create a vendor inventory that includes the name of the vendor, the services or products they provide, and the level of access they have to your systems and data. Along with this list should be a criticality ranking scheme to identify the importance of a specific to your business operations.

2 – Evaluate the security posture of your vendors

The next step is to evaluate the security posture of your vendors. This involves assessing the security controls and practices that your vendors have in place to protect their systems and data.

You should consider factors such as the vendor’s security policies, procedures, and practices, as well as their security certifications and compliance with industry standards.

3 – Conduct a risk assessment

Once you have evaluated the security posture of your vendors, you should conduct a risk assessment to identify potential vulnerabilities and threats to your business and supply chain.

This assessment should consider factors such as the likelihood and impact of a vendor’s security breach, the sensitivity of the data or systems that the vendor has access to, and the potential financial or reputational impact of a breach.

4 – Develop a risk management plan

Based on the results of your risk assessment, you should develop a risk management plan that outlines specific measures to mitigate the risks associated with each vendor.

This plan should include steps such as implementing additional security controls, requiring vendors to undergo security training, and establishing clear security policies and procedures for vendors to follow.

5 – Monitor vendor cybersecurity risks

Finally, it is essential to monitor the cybersecurity risks of your vendors on an ongoing basis. This includes regular audits and assessments to ensure that vendors are following the security policies and procedures that you have established.

You should also consider using tools such as intrusion detection and prevention systems and security information and event management (SIEM) solutions to detect and respond to potential security breaches.

By evaluating the security posture of your vendors, conducting risk assessments, and developing risk management plans, you can ultimately reduce the risk of data breaches and other cyber-attacks.

Remember to regularly monitor the cybersecurity risks of your vendors and implement measures to mitigate those risks. By taking a proactive approach to vendor cybersecurity, you can ensure the security of your business and data in today’s digital age.

If the Valor team can assist you in this process, we would be more than happy to share our experiences, systems, and expertise to help you save time and money throughout this continual process.

Author(s): Greg Tomchick 

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Defense contractors must prepare for ‘trust but verify’ era

Defense contractors across the U.S., including those in and around the District of Columbia, are facing new and more stringent information security regulations that require companies to pass additional hurdles before engaging in contract work with the Department of Defense and its ancillary agencies.

These regulations, some of which may begin appearing in RFPs as early as this spring, trace their roots back to early 2020 when the DoD, in partnership with Carnegie Mellon and John Hopkins, formed what is known today as the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) program, governed by the Cyber Accreditation Body (Cyber AB). The program requires all Defense prime and subcontractors who access, store and/or transmit Controlled Unclassified Information to implement a specified level of cybersecurity.

The upcoming contract requirement known as the DFARS 7021 clause adds a “trust but verify component” to existing federal contract data protection identified under DFARS 252.204-7012, Safeguarding Covered Defense Information & Cyber Incident Reporting. Prior to CMMC’s release, defense contractors were able to self-attest that the businesses were abiding by established contract security standard.

All that is changing now.

While these regulations will undoubtedly mean additional time and effort for defense contractors, they are essential to ensure that sensitive information is kept secure. With more than 500 government contractors in the Hampton Roads, Virginia, area alone, preparing for these new requirements is of utmost importance. Those who do so most efficiently and effectively are likely to come out on top in the highly competitive government contracting landscape.

To prepare for the new regulations, organizations should take proactive action to determine their gaps, prioritize resource allocation to address those gaps, and continually adjust to the moving target of cybersecurity compliance across the DoD contracting landscape.

Here are a few key steps for accomplishing those objectives:

  • Review any existing (if applicable) or upcoming contracts to identify security requirements/DFARS clauses.
  • Identify whether the business handles only FCI or more sensitive CUI (Controlled Unclassified Information). As a reference, a company’s contracting officer should be able to assist in determining this.
  • Review NIST 800-171 controls in preparation for performing a security controls analysis.
  • Ensure there is an established company-wide cybersecurity training program, to include initial and ongoing cybersecurity awareness and education. Continuous cyber training will empower and enable company personnel to identify threats and mitigate their business impact.
  • Consider obtaining outside resources, either over the short-term or long-term, to supplement in-house resources to help identify gaps in the organization’s readiness posture, assist with drafting operational security policies, and to help position the organization for continued CMMC compliance.

Becoming Your Organizations Next Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

In today’s digital age, cybersecurity is an increasingly critical aspect of organizational operations. The Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) plays a crucial role in ensuring that an organization’s digital assets are secure and protected against cyber threats. As a direct report to the CISO, you have a unique opportunity to distinguish yourself as a potential successor for this critical leadership position. In this article, Valor experts explore some strategies that you can implement to help set yourself apart and demonstrate your readiness to take on the role of CISO.

Master The Skills That Your CISO Needs

One of the most important aspects of the CISO role is having a deep understanding of cybersecurity technology, tools, and methodologies. As a direct report to the CISO, it’s essential that you continuously work to improve your technical skills. You should stay up to date with the latest industry developments and be knowledgeable about the various technologies and tools that are used to protect against cyber threats.

One way to improve your technical skills is to take advantage of training opportunities. Many organizations offer cybersecurity training programs, and you should make it a priority to participate in these programs whenever possible. You can also seek out industry certifications such as the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) to demonstrate your expertise and dedication to the field.

Another way to improve your technical skills is to work closely with the cybersecurity team and learn from their expertise. You should be proactive in seeking out opportunities to collaborate with your colleagues and learn from their experiences. This can help you to gain a better understanding of the challenges and complexities of cybersecurity, as well as build your own technical expertise.

Find Ways To Improve Your Communication Skills

As a direct report to the CISO, you will need to be able to communicate effectively with senior leaders and other stakeholders. It’s important that you are able to articulate complex cybersecurity issues in a clear and concise manner. You should be able to explain technical concepts in a way that is easy for non-technical stakeholders to understand. To some extent, finding ways to communicate with your team, in areas that the CISO may not have the ability or time to do is critical.

To improve your communication skills, you should practice presenting to senior leaders and other stakeholders. You can also seek out opportunities to speak at industry conferences or events. This can help you to build your confidence and gain experience in communicating effectively with different audiences.

It’s also important to be able to communicate effectively with your cybersecurity team. You should be able to provide clear and concise instructions, as well as provide constructive feedback when necessary. Developing strong communication skills can help you to build trust and credibility with your team, as well as with senior leaders and other stakeholders.

Build Relationships With Business Line Leaders

Building positive relationships with other departments and stakeholders within the organization is essential for success as a CISO. As a direct report to the CISO, you can demonstrate your leadership and collaboration skills by building positive relationships with other departments and stakeholders.

One way to build relationships is to seek out opportunities to collaborate on projects with other departments. You should be proactive in reaching out to other departments and identifying opportunities for collaboration. This can help to build trust and promote a culture of collaboration within the organization.

Another way to build relationships is to be a team player. You should be willing to help your colleagues and offer support when needed. This can help to build positive relationships and promote a culture of teamwork within the cybersecurity team.

Help Your CISO Stay Current

Staying current with the latest cybersecurity trends and threats is critical for success as a CISO. As a direct report to the CISO, you can demonstrate your commitment to the field by staying up to date on industry developments and sharing relevant information with your colleagues.

One way to stay current is to read industry publications, attend industry events, and periodically have conversations with other practitioners. You should also participate in online forums and discussion groups to stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices. This can help you to identify emerging threats and stay ahead of the curve in terms of cybersecurity.

In addition, it’s important to stay current with changes in the regulatory environment. Many industries are subject to specific regulations and compliance requirements, and it’s important that the CISO stays up to date on these requirements. By staying current with regulatory changes, you can help to ensure that your organization remains compliant and avoids costly fines or legal issues.

As a direct report to the CISO, you have a unique opportunity to distinguish yourself as a potential successor for this critical leadership position. By mastering technical skills, developing communication skills, building relationships, and staying current with cybersecurity trends, you can set yourself apart and demonstrate your readiness to take on the role of CISO.

Remember, the CISO role is about more than just technical expertise. It’s about leadership, collaboration, and communication. By focusing on these key areas, you can demonstrate your ability to lead and succeed in this critical role. So, take advantage of training opportunities, seek out opportunities to collaborate with other departments, and stay current with the latest cybersecurity trends and threats. With dedication and hard work, you can position yourself as a potential successor for the CISO role and help to protect your organization against cyber threats.

Whether the Valor Team can help you now or in the future, we remain poised to support your business’ success and protection.

Author(s): Greg Tomchick 

If you like our newsletter, please subscribe today and check out our other channels.

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YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/@valor-cybers…

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/valorcyber