Do I Need A Cybersecurity Consultant? A Guide For Toronto Startups

post thumb
by John Svazic/ on 21 Feb 2023

Do I Need A Cybersecurity Consultant? A Guide For Toronto Startups

When your business runs smoothly, it can feel like you’re unstoppable. That’s the ideal that everyone is striving for, but there are often unexpected bumps and roadblocks along the way.

Weaknesses in your cybersecurity posture can cause the most devastating roadblocks of all.

Once your customers get wind of a data breach, particularly one that threatens their information directly, you’ll have a hard time regaining credibility. That could stump your growth for years, and potentially end your business’s profitability forever.

Successful businesses aren’t just profitable, they’re robust to potential black swan events.

To preserve your company’s stability, you must think strongly about cybersecurity. A cyber security consultant can help you with that.

This article by EliteSec will illustrate to you the reasons why you should hire a cyber security consultant and the main ways a cyber security consultant applies their knowledge.

What Is A Cyber Security Consultant?

A cybersecurity consultant assists organizations on a variety of cybersecurity topics using their knowledge of information and application security. This consultant works with organizations to identify potential security risks, recommend solutions, and assist with implementation. Cybersecurity experts are extremely knowledgeable in several facets of cybersecurity, including network security, data protection, incident response and regulatory compliance. Their vast expertise allows them to work across industries including the finance and health sector. They will point their clients in the right direction wherever their weaknesses lie. Organizations might engage a cybersecurity consultant for a specific project, or on an ongoing basis to provide recurring support and advice. Such support can include:

  • Security assessments
  • Penetration testing
  • Incident response planning
  • Technology selection
  • Employee training and awareness programs

As opposed to hiring a full-time cybersecurity expert to work for them, small businesses and medium-sized businesses can hire a cyber security consultant for a part-time role. After all, your organization is likely small enough that you won’t need their services all the time. Their main work lies in implementing your cybersecurity solution. Afterwards, they might only come in periodically just to check that things are running smoothly or resolve new issues.

4 Risks That Cybersecurity Consultants Shield Your Business From

We have emphasized that cybersecurity consultants help protect your business from risk. These are the main risks you could face if you fail to protect your business properly.

Financial Risks: A cyber attack might lose you revenue, but it can also be expensive to recover from when you’re putting the pieces back together. Not to mention, your reputation is worth a lot too.

Data Risks: Oftentimes, the cyber attacker intends to create an opening through which they can steal your customers' personal information or even your business’s proprietary data. As a result, regulators will place you under significant scrutiny.

Not protecting your business effectively is like walking a tightrope

Logistical Disruptions: A cyberattack will likely disrupt your organizational operations significantly. System failures, network outages, and data loss diminish your organizational productivity. Since your organization will be thrown into chaos trying to repair the issue and dealing with customer complaints, you’ll have little time to work towards your organizational objectives.

Regulatory Compliance: Some industries, such as the health and financial services industry, must adhere to strict industry regulations. Failure to take the prescribed measures to protect your customers' data could incur harsh fines and other legal consequences.

What Do Cybersecurity Consultants Do For Your Company?

Working with cybersecurity consultants is usually a very hands-on experience. The roles of a cyber security consultant vary greatly depending on the use case. For instance, cybersecurity consultants can:

  • Identify potential vulnerabilities
  • Help you comply with local security regulations
  • Minimize your cybersecurity risk
  • Assess whether your current cybersecurity controls are effective
  • Monitor and enforce data privacy rules
  • Plan for future cyber threats.

We’ve identified 9 cases where companies might hire a cybersecurity consultant. You don’t need to meet each of these needs, only one or two. Here they are.

Cybersecurity Assessments

A cybersecurity assessment can take many forms. We can split them into:

  • Vulnerability Assessment
  • Penetration Testing
  • Compliance Gap Auditing
  • Social Engineering Testing
  • General Risk Assessment

Take note that not every test is necessary for your business. For instance, a small company might want a vulnerability test before considering a full-scale penetration test.

Vulnerability Assessment

A vulnerability assessment is usually the first step within a larger cybersecurity assessment. In this case, the consultant will run some kind of automated scanner to identify potential issues with your cybersecurity posture. But in contrast to penetration tests, the consultant will not attempt to exploit them.

Penetration Testing

A penetration test will go beyond picking out weaknesses in your systems and networks. Instead, a penetration tester finds these weaknesses and then works on exploiting them and gaining access to your network as quickly as possible. Thus, they mimic the activities of a malicious hacker.

The issue with pen testing is that some consultants treat this subject absent-mindedly. Instead of giving your business the attention it deserves, they simply rely on automated software to complete the entire process. If you suspect this was the case with your last penetration test, you could obtain a second opinion test from a qualified consultant. They will give you a fresh perspective on your system security and any elements that your previous tester missed.

Compliance Gap Auditing

Off the top of our heads, we can think of 6 categories of businesses in the world that must comply with data security regulations specific to their field:

  1. Healthcare
  2. Finance
  3. Technology
  4. Retail
  5. Government
  6. Education

There are probably more, but those are the most prevalent. If your business has a global reach, you might need to comply with GDPR privacy laws with your European customers. A health insurance company might need to comply with HIPAA. An online store needs PCI DSS compliance. Whatever your niche, a qualified cybersecurity consultant is well-versed in the regulations specific to your business. They will sit down with you and explain the actions you need to take to meet them effectively.

Social Engineering Testing

One of the sneakiest ways for nefarious actors to access your company data doesn’t involve lines of code at all. It only requires a particularly clever individual with a good understanding of how to get your employees' attention.

If you have a lot of employees who have access to your company data, you might be vulnerable to a social engineering attack. Such attacks include phishing and impersonation. An assessment will show you where your company’s vulnerabilities lie, especially concerning employee awareness and training.

Risk Assessment

A risk assessment is a wide-reaching assessment that evaluates your organization’s security posture on the whole. It will help you determine the likelihood of an attack occurring on your business and the extent of the potential impact. Moreover, they will analyze your current security controls and mitigation strategies while helping you identify new ones.

As a consequence of completing this assessment, you’ll be able to figure out which elements of your organizational security to prioritize and how to allocate your resources in a cost-effective manner.

Security Strategy

Of course, security consultants have wide-ranging talents that go beyond simply running cybersecurity tests. They tend to be big-picture thinkers who know how to map out a comprehensive security strategy to meet your organizational goals while addressing pertinent threats.

In facilitating your quest to map out a security strategy, a cybersecurity consultant will conduct a security architecture review. Thus, they will evaluate your security systems and processes to see if they were effectively designed, implemented and maintained. Following this, they will formulate improvements to your security posture and fortify your business.

Training and Awareness

Having a cybersecurity consultant on board will be invaluable to your employee training mechanisms. One of the primary purposes of your employee training should be to teach them the importance of cybersecurity and how to protect sensitive information. Cybersecurity training should communicate your organization’s security policies, which are based on the industry best practices that your consultant set out.

Here are three types of cybersecurity awareness training you should engage in with your employees.

Awareness training: This type of training focuses on the basics of cybersecurity, such as how to identify phishing scams, how to use strong passwords, and how to keep their systems and devices secure.

Phishing simulations: Phishing simulations can help employees identify and respond to real-life phishing attacks. During these simulations, employees will receive fake phishing emails that look like real threats. If an employee clicks on a malicious link or provides sensitive information, they will receive feedback and education on how to avoid similar attacks in the future.

Tabletop exercises: A tabletop exercise will help you respond to realistic cybersecurity threats in a controlled environment. During these exercises, a consultant will help your employees work through the scenarios and discuss their responses with them, telling them how they can act differently in the case of errors.

Once initial training is complete, give your employees occasional friendly reminders to follow these best practices when relevant. And update them when you make any changes.

Cybersecurity Software Selection

When you do not know the products that are vital to the security of your organization, choosing between one or the other is incredibly irresponsible.

Rather than making the tough decision yourself, you should consult a cybersecurity professional to help you find the best security software for your needs. The consultant will identify the specific challenges that you’re facing, and make the appropriate recommendations based on the features of a particular software and the security strategy the vendor implements.

Incident Response Planning

In case of a cybersecurity disaster, you need to have a plan in place. Such incidents are occurring increasingly frequently and as a result, your cybersecurity consultant would be remiss not to plan for such an event. Their recovery plan should involve all your employees, and they will cover all scenarios during security training.

Hire A Cybersecurity Consultant From EliteSec

At EliteSec, we help firms that operate in the greater Toronto area and the rest of Canada protect their business from cybersecurity attacks with flexible cybersecurity consulting. Our consultants can slot in on any project regardless of company or project size. Contact us to find out more about how we can integrate cybersecurity standards into your organization.

Cybersecurity consultant Toronto

We would be more than happy to discuss this topic further and help you build out your own security controls for your organization. Contact us today and we’ll be happy to chat with you!

comments powered by Disqus