No matter what you do to protect your business from hackers, cybersecurity will always be a moving target.

Increasingly sophisticated hacking techniques mean CEOs always have to stay one step ahead of the latest ploys. A November Inc. survey of CEOs and other senior executives from more than 150 Inc. 5000 companies asked respondents about their level of confidence in the security of both their company and personal data. The results: 53 percent of respondents said they feel more confident about the security of their company's data now compared to five years ago, while just 28 percent said the same about their personal data. 

Matt Singley, founder of Chicago real estate firm Pinnacle Furnished Suites, is concerned about new methods being used by hackers, but feels confident in his company's defenses against them. One way the company minimizes the potential impact of a breach is by storing customer information only when necessary. Pinnacle also performs regular audits to purge its system of data it doesn't need. "The only way to be completely secure with your data," he says, "is to not store it."

John Kailunas II, CEO of wealth management firm Regal Financial Group, says that the external threats his company faces have increased in both quantity and complexity. The company has countered this by adding required security awareness training for every employee and hiring cybersecurity consultants to recommend changes. Kailunas says cybersecurity is an issue that requires constant examination. "Still," he adds, "we have seen a significant improvement in our ability to identify potential threats."

Advances in hacking practices aren't the only factor that have made security more challenging. "More and more, people are working from different devices that companies own," says Shana Cosgrove, CEO of cloud software firm Nyla Technology Solutions, which provides software and cybersecurity services to the Department of Defense. "It's a lot harder to handle security when you don't own the entire platform." 

Jack Wight, CEO of device rebate company Buyback Boss, says his company is under near-constant attack from hackers trying to access bank account information. Scammers will spoof the company's vendors over email and ask for wire payments, so Buyback Boss has implemented a policy of always calling vendors before sending payments. "Five years ago there just wasn't as much of this going on," he says. "Now we're dealing with scammers almost on a daily basis."

Claude Burns used to work in data security for the U.S. Navy before founding corporate beverage service Office Libations. He says his knowledge of the cybersecurity field has led him to be constantly on guard. "I don't think any information is safe or secure," he says. "Your personal information is out there. Companies whose whole job is to protect it, like Equifax, are getting breached and hacked repeatedly."

Burns compares being hacked to getting in a car accident: Drive enough miles, and it's going to happen eventually. For him, the key is making sure that if something does look weird, his team can detect it quickly. "That way," he says, "when something does happen, you're able to mitigate the damage from it. In other words, wear your seat belt."

Published on: Feb 7, 2020