Cybersecurity management may seem complicated and, let’s face it, it often is. But even without a degree in computer science, there are several important steps and processes you should have in place to ensure your IT infrastructure is protected from intruders.

You don’t need to be an expert, but having a rudimentary understanding of what goes into cybersecurity management will help you hire competent people and partner with a skilled cybersecurity firm.

Here are several important questions you should be asking and the answers that will help keep your key assets secure.

What is the difference between a threat, vulnerability and a risk?

threat is a potential danger that may result from a possible attack by an intruder attempting to gain access to your network. This can be either by directly targeting your systems or by running a phishing scam against your employees.

vulnerability is a weakness or a gap in your network’s armor; it’s the spot where an intruder can break through, causing a breach. This may be a flaw in your firewall, for example, or an employee ignorant of how social engineering and phishing email works.

risk is the potential for having a computer attack, data loss, or any such adverse action takes place. Computer risks can be identified before an attack occurs so that, hopefully, you can proactively fix them. Your level of risk can be reduced to a more acceptable level by installing additional controls that can stop vulnerabilities from being exploited. However, it is seldom technically or financially viable to eliminate all risk. Rather, you want to reduce your risk to an acceptable level at an acceptable cost to the organization.

Diligent cybersecurity management requires an organization to contemplate potential risks and try to reduce them.

Should I be testing my systems with known attacker tools?

Advancements in hacker technology and defense are constantly evolving. The best way to prepare for increasing cyberattacks is to be ahead of the game. In this cat-and-mouse race, it becomes imperative to not only discover the gaps in your systems but to prioritize them for remediation. This is usually done by using the process of threat hunting to analyze, probe, and discover system vulnerabilities that should be fixed according to the level of risk posed to an asset should a vulnerability be exploited.

Adhering to the bare-minimum compliance regimes is never enough to keep your organization protected. And the only way to know that your tech will hold up against an actual attack is to test your systems and mimic those attacks.

Should I be conducting social engineering attack simulations?

Social engineering involves the psychosocial manipulation of employees for the purpose of disclosing confidential information. People are always the weakest link in any cybersecurity plan. As such, you need to know who in your organization is likely to click on that email phishing link or fall for other social engineering scams.

Just as you want to run attacks against your perimeter and network defenses, you need to do the same by conducting social engineering attack simulations. By running your own phishing attack, you can pinpoint key departments and people who will benefit from cybersecurity awareness training. Many organizations regularly provide training and tests to help ensure that staff members are knowledgeable and vigilant of risky events or unusual circumstances as they perform their normal work activities.

What is information governance and should I use it?

Information governance is a holistic method to managing information by creating and applying best practices, roles, controls, and metrics that ensure important information is handled as a valuable asset.

Information governance includes creating data maps of your networks with a deep understanding of the flow of information. Knowing what information is being kept, where it’s kept, and its data classification can be the difference between successfully controlling a hacking or malware attack and failing to prevent a costly data breach.

But information governance goes deeper—when done well, it also creates policies and business practices that define how information on the network should be treated from its inception through to deletion.

As old information piles up in the proverbial “digital attic of your legacy systems, intruders can use these forgotten or unprotected archives to gain access to your other more sensitive assets. With a solid information governance plan in place, you can prevent these dusty corners from becoming risky havens where data breaches can occur.

What is an incident response plan and do I need one?

Incident Response encompasses the processes and actions that address, handle, and manage the outcome of a security incident in a way that reduces recovery time and cost.

Unfortunately, security incidents are an inevitable part of today’s business. Despite all the security network devices, security applications, and policies, eventually, a hacker may find a system or network vulnerability that allows them to break in.

Having an incident response plan in place can mean the difference between a successfully mitigated attack and a dangerous data breach.

An incident response plan will guide your teams through a security incident, step by step, to contain and minimize the damage once an attack is detected. An added benefit to creating a working plan with full support from all the involved areas of the organization is that trial simulations can be run as practice exercises, allowing all the involved players to understand how to spring into action at the first sign of an attack and work together to stop it.

Mitigate threats, reduce risk and get back to business with the help of experts.