Today, no organization — regardless of industry — is immune to hackers who seek to access information technology systems. While the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal and other attacks on major brands dominated headlines in cybersecurity news over the past few months, organizations of all types and sizes, operating in a myriad of industries, face the expanding pressure of ongoing and increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks. And the professional services industry is no exception.
Professional services typically include specialized skill sets that are needed by most companies but not necessarily available internally among the employee base. These can include expertise in accounting, legal, architecture, engineering, IT, management consulting, and R&D.
More often than ever before, the information contained in the IT infrastructure of professional services companies is of high value, and as a result, cybercriminals are focusing their nefarious efforts on many segments of the professional services sector. In addition to basic employee and client information that hackers covet for resale on the dark web, in most cases, professional services firms possess a significant amount of wide-ranging, valuable and often proprietary and/or confidential information that can also be valuable.
From proprietary intellectual property to financial or legal information, technical documentation and much more, if a professional services company is breached or if any of this information is leaked, it could cause devastating damage to an organization’s bottom line and reputation — and that of their clients. The hallmark of any relationship with a professional service provider is trust and security, but losing that trust destroys relationships and tarnishes reputations. Simply put, in today’s modern operating environment, cybersecurity is vitally important for professional services firms.
According to the 2017 Cost of a Data Breach Study, data breach costs in the professional services sector are the highest among every industry outside of financial services and healthcare. Annually conducted by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by IBM Security, the study revealed that the average cost for each lost or stolen record containing sensitive and confidential information in the professional services industry is $274, or nearly $50 more per record than the global overall mean across industries.
Making matters worse, professional services firms are typically seen as easy targets for hackers due to their relaxed security stance and third-party relationships with more lucrative targets. Professional services companies often have lax security policies when compared to their technological counterparts, often violating basics such as secure password protocols, free and wide-ranging spread of data within the organization, no encryption, and open systems in general.
While larger organizations often have extensive security budgets and resources to put strong perimeter and internal defenses into effect, many companies in professional services do not have the internal resources to commit to that same level of security investment. The result of weaker cybersecurity measures at professional services firms can offer bad actors backdoor entry into client systems.
In fact, experts believe the initial intrusion into national retailer Target’s systems during the 2013 breach that exposed 40 million debit and credit card numbers can be traced back to network credentials stolen from a refrigeration, heating, ventilation and air conditioning subcontractor that has worked at a number of locations at Target and other top retailers.
Today, as more professional services companies depend on their IT infrastructure to enhance their operations, save money and increase profitability, the threat of malicious viruses and cyberattacks has increased. Because combatting these attacks has become a high priority, producers of operating systems develop security patches for system vulnerabilities that arise and make them available to users.
Unfortunately, the IT infrastructure of countless professional services firms has not been integrated across the organization, ensuring patch management is a time-consuming and burdensome practice that must be performed manually. Compounding the issue, manual processes can’t prioritize what needs to be immediately patched, potentially inhibiting normal functionality and threatening the stability of the entire environment.
Research has shown that the most effective way to protect against cyber attacks based on known vulnerabilities is to ensure that every endpoint in the environment has the latest patches installed. Today, the operating environments of professional services companies demand patch management solutions to be cloud-based and automated yet strictly controlled. Fortunately, Automox is a solution designed to address this need.
Our cloud-based automated patch management solution assesses the vulnerability of your production environment, evaluating potential security threats, vulnerabilities and non-compliances before automatically patching vulnerabilities based upon your organization’s configured policies. Because the professional services sector is so diverse, Automox’s dynamic policy engine allows you to easily create scripts that handle your specific business requirements and custom applications.
Even better, Automox was built for a mixed OS environment, enabling you to manage Windows, Mac OS X and Linux patches from a single dashboard. With Automox, you’ll see what patches are scheduled, what patches need your approval and which devices need your attention.
Despite their differing specialties and varying expertise, there are a few standards that still apply to the cybersecurity efforts of professional services companies — no matter the type of service. With Automox, companies in the professional services sector can improve their security posture by easily assessing the vulnerability of IT assets, defining and optimizing end-to-end vulnerability response processes and automating as much of the patch identification, testing, deployment and verification processes as possible.
To try a free, 15-day trial of Automox in your professional services environment, sign up today. There’s no limit on the number of endpoints protected, no credit card required to sign up and your security team will receive full access to the complete platform, better protecting your information technology systems from potential threats, vulnerabilities and cybercriminals attempting to pilfer money, corrupt data or taint your brand.