Constella Web Logo white e1703116556868

What Is Digital Threat Protection? 10 Risks to Watch Out For

iStock 1315825760

Digital threat protection is what a company employs to defend itself from digital risk. This involves cybersecurity, but it goes much deeper into the company itself by looking at risks to its workforce, reputation, and recent technology adoptions.

To better understand what digital threat protection is, we should first clarify what a digital risk is.

What Is Digital Risk?

Digital risk refers to all unexpected consequences that result from digital transformation and disrupt the achievement of business objectives.

Fortunately, digital risk protection strategies have been developed to mitigate digital risk so that organizations can continue confidently scaling their operations.

Digital risk refers to the consequences, both seen and unforeseen, that result from digital transformation that may disrupt business operations. When a business scales, its attack surface expands, increasing its exposure to external digital threats. This makes digital risk an unavoidable by-product of digital transformation. The specific consequences of digital risks are often difficult to predict, as new technologies may introduce vulnerabilities that go undetected until a cybercriminal exploits them.

Therefore, your company must understand the digital risks of digital transformation and integrating new technologies so those consequences can be more easily predicted and mitigated.

10 Types of Digital Threats

As technology evolves and businesses scale, so do digital threats. here are several digital threats you need to watch out for. Here’s a breakdown of the Top 10 most common threats.

1. Cybersecurity Risks

Cybersecurity risks refer to internet-based attacks designed to access and extract sensitive data regarding your business processes or the personal information of your employees and customers. This encompasses most attacks you hear on the news, like ransomware, Trojan viruses, credential theft, and all other types of malware.

It is virtually impossible to completely eliminate cybersecurity risks from your system—any company that operates with an internet connection is vulnerable to cybersecurity threats. However, the right cybersecurity service offering can help you keep those risks from becoming active threats by alerting businesses when a breach has occurred or of an emerging threat in the digital public sphere

2. Data Privacy Threats

Data privacy threats are closely connected to cybersecurity risks, comprising any risk associated with how the company handles sensitive data. Can the data be misused by an employee? Is the data properly secured with digital permissions?

Many companies face data privacy risks when going through a digital transformation. Too often, the transformation and expansion happen faster than threat monitoring solutions can adapt. As a result, sensitive data can be leaked to the public through a variety of means, including internal slip-ups, internal threats, and your vendor network.

3. Cloud Technology Risks

Cloud computing has changed how many businesses store their information, allowing them to manage countless files and assets without needing on-location infrastructure. However, this innovation leaves room for digital risk, as changes in the architecture and the cloud’s implementation may lead to data loss or workflow bottlenecks.

4. Workforce Risks

Workforce risk is any workforce issue that could jeopardize a company’s goals, including labor shortages, employee attrition, skill shortages, or even discussions about compensation.

The rise of remote work also throws some hard-to-navigate variables into workforce risk. With employees using their home networks to work, cybercriminals can use home-based vulnerabilities to infiltrate your work network.

5. Regulatory Compliance Risks

Regulatory compliance risks refer to the possibility that your organization’s processes and operations may violate laws and regulations placed on your industry. A failure to comply with said regulations may result in fees and other penalties (including unwanted coverage in the media).

These risks tie in with data privacy risks. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enacted protocols regarding privacy and data security, which can result in sanctions if your business fails to comply. So keep your data privacy risks in mind when you work on maintaining regulatory compliance.

6. Resiliency Risks

If you ever find yourself the victim of a cybersecurity breach or a cyberattack, your next steps must be pointed toward recuperation. But how quickly can you bounce back after the attack? Are you up and running the next day, or will it take weeks to get back on track? 

Your answer to the above questions can describe your resiliency risk: the availability of a particular service after a disruption. If you can’t operate your business without a certain data set or piece of tech, you may have a high resiliency risk.

7. Automation Risks

Automation is an amazing tool that improves efficiency and reduces the required work hours to complete a task. However, automating processes can lead to compatibility issues with current systems, leading to temporary inefficiencies while those problems are sorted out.

8. Third-Party Risks

Third-party risks are threats that may arise when working with outside vendors, suppliers  and individuals, like  contract workers. Such risks could include personal data leaks, intellectual property theft, or even theft of financial data. This often comes from a lack of proper permission protocols, which allow third parties to gain access to critical infrastructure and sensitive data.  (I thnk that you should offer some real world examples in some of these1-10  like Ed Snowden here who was a sub contracter and leaked classified information from the Nat’l Security Agency.

9. Artificial Intelligence Risks

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools are another technological advancement many organizations use to automate and streamline their business processes. However, those organizations need to be aware of the risk of AI, primarily:

  • AI bias: Producing results that are systematically prejudiced due to faulty assumptions made in the machine learning process.
  • AI manipulation: Unauthorized changes to the AI’s protocols and learning processes that force the program to make incorrect decisions and analyses.

10. Reputational Risks

All of the previous risks, as well as other variables, can lead to thisdigital threat: reputation risk. Reputational risk includes any event or action  that could tarnish your organization’s reputation in the public eye., and  the potential loss to financial capital, social capital and/or market share resulting from damage to a firm’s reputation.These reputational blunders could come from a digital threat, which is what happened when Facebook leaked hundreds of millions of users’ personal data. Or they could be caused by a freak accident, such as the one that caused BP’s massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s nearly impossible to control every reputational risk (we’re sure BP didn’t mean to cause that oil spill), but you can have more control over data leaks that could damage your reputation.

How to Protect Against Digital Threats

As we’ve already mentioned, it’s hard to eliminate digital risk. With the many different types of risks discussed (and others not  mentioned), there is plenty of opportunity for risks to take hold within your company and incur financial and reputational damage. To help prevent that,  consider employing the following six tactics.

1. Conduct an Initial Digital Risk Assessment

One of the easiest and fastest ways to understand and identify your current vulnerabilities is conducting an exposure risk assessment

This assessment will analyze your digital footprint (a digital footprint is evidence of your activity on the internet). It will also assess whether any personal or sensitive information from your company or its employees has been leaked or exposed on the deep, dark or surface web.  so that you are aware of your organization’s current threat level for credential theft, or account takeover, that could lead to a  ransomware attack.

2. Complete an Internal Audit

After scanning for current leaks, an internal audit will help you identify how that information may have been leaked in the first place. An internal audit:

  • Searches for vulnerabilities in your cybersecurity
  • Checks for compliance regulations
  • Monitors and reports on current access permissions
  • Identifies key assets to your organization

An internal audit will help you address nearly all 10 risk factors we mentioned earlier.

It’s possible to complete this audit on your own if you have the right employee support—an IT team or a cybersecurity expert. But if you don’t have access to these individuals, trying to DIY a solution will lead you to miss some critical points and variables. Instead, you should work with an experienced cybersecurity service that can help you conduct the audit.

3. Reduce Vulnerabilities

Once vulnerabilities are identified through your internal audit, it’s time to patch them up. If you work with a cybersecurity service to complete your audit, they should have some actionable and specific tasks to improve your security.

If you or your team are inexperienced at repairing cybersecurity issues, don’t try to do this yourself. Your inexperience may lead to further vulnerabilities that are even harder to repair. Let the professionals identify what your vulnerabilities are and fix those vulnerabilities.

4. Redefine Network Access Permissions

Check to see who can access your network. Have you accidentally allowed third-party individuals to access data sets? Are former employees still in the network? These slip-ups happen, and can cause irreparable damage if left unchecked. Check your permissions at least twice a year to ensure only authorized users can access your data.

5. Develop a Security Plan for All Employees

In addition to reducing and repairing vulnerabilities, you should establish digital protection protocols for your employees. These will help protect your employees from external digital threats, and by extension, protect your brand.

In addition to reducing and repairing vulnerabilities, you should establish digital protection protocols for your employees. These will help protect your employees from external digital threats, and by extension, protect your brand.

6. Continue to Monitor Your Assets

Cybersecurity isn’t a one-and-done service. Emerging threats are always evolving, so you’ll need to constantly monitor your systems and infrastructure for new vulnerabilities as those threats become sophisticated enough to work around your previous patches.

How to Set Up Your Digital Risk Management

Every digital risk management plan should include frequent vulnerability scans, regular reports on those vulnerabilities, and actionable steps to remedy them as they arise. 

How can you set up this kind of digital risk management plan? By investing in the right digital threat protection partner, like Constella Intelligence.

Constella combines a risk intelligence platform with a data leak detection engine to create a digital threat protection solution focused on mitigating the most critical categories of digital risk – data leak and exposed credentials, the #1 most common attack vector in data breaches.

CLICK HERE for a FREE trial of Constella today!