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Cyber-attacks don’t just happen to large corporations. Any business can fall foul of cyber-crime, but the best way to protect your business against attack is to be prepared. Here’s the heads-up on some of the biggest cyber threats to look out for so far this year and how to prevent them.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to security
Think about house security. We all have locks on our doors and most will have window locks, too. But how about gated entry, an alarm system, window bars or a video doorbell? We all use varying degrees of security to protect ourselves depending on our perceived level of risk. The same methodology should be used when considering cyber security. A business with thousands of employees accessing data via different devices will have completely different risks to those of one person using a private laptop to access basic documents.
When it comes to cyber security, there are several different combinations of technology and techniques you can use to protect your organisation’s data. The problem for most businesses is discovering where best to focus their spend. Working with specialist partners, such as Babble, simplifies the process, offering expert business insight into the cyber security solutions you ought to consider.
A cyber security specialist will help your business put up the best defence against attacks. This includes physical protection, technological implementation and improving business processes through user awareness training and education programmes.
Protect your business by protecting your users
Your end users will either be your business’ best line of defence or your biggest vulnerability. Most cyber threats stem from users: your employees and your customers. It’s important to make them aware of their own responsibilities.
Educate employees, providing regular training to ensure they know the role they play in protecting your business. You should provide insight on:
- Accessing data safely
- Setting strong passwords and changing them regularly
- Using software correctly
- Browsing securely, using a virtual private network
- Looking out for secure websites (HTTPS)
- Identifying safe links
- Recognising potential cyber threats
- Safeguarding information (for example, the importance of never writing your password down or leaving a device unlocked and unattended)
Delivering cyber training is not a tick box exercise. Incorporating it into an induction programme or a lunch-and-learn session simply isn’t going to have a lasting impact.
Using data analytics, you will be able to find out valuable information about your staff’s participation in and engagement with cyber training. Is one department letting the side down? Who’s spending the right amount of time interacting with the training? Utilise this insight to ensure all your employees are participating in identified, non-negotiable training.
Trust your people, trust your tech
Most organisations try to nurture a company culture built on trust and respect. However, whether we like it or not, there’ll always be examples where a rotten apple has caused damage to a business. A malicious insider is an individual within a business who has access to valuable data and shares it externally. They have ample opportunity to send sensitive data outwards.
Of course, all businesses hope that strong employee engagement and mutual respect will prevent these instances. In some cases, however, an employee may not even realise they’re doing something wrong by downloading or sharing sensitive information.
Investing in strong cyber technology and having a clear understanding of where your data is kept and how it can be accessed, are some of the best ways to prevent malicious insiders being able to impact your business.
Don’t play a blame game
We’ve seen it too many times. A cyber-attack occurs; two parties are impacted and neither wants to take responsibility. Cyber-attacks are complex and in most cases there isn’t a clear point of fault. Yet scenarios like this damage relationships and can lead to business partnership breakdowns. The best way to avoid this is to ensure your own cyber strategy game is stronger than ever.
Invest in the right technology
We won’t bang on about hardware and software. Most businesses will invest in varying levels of cyber security technology. It’s integral to any business resilience plan. However, there are ways to go above and beyond to ensure your tech blocks potential cyber-attacks.
Multi-factor authentication, for example, is a great safety net for employees. It only allows access once the user presents two or more pieces of evidence to show they are who they say they are (such as a code sent to their mobile phone or a second email address). If an employee accidentally clicked on a harmful link and an attacker gained access to their log-in details, multi-factor authentication would prevent the attacker from being able to actually gain access to any data.
Technology is also available that will scan links automatically, blocking illegitimate users from gaining access to a harmful site. This extra layer of security will help catch sneaky attempts to hack into your system.
Understand where your data is being kept
You should know where your data is kept, how it’s being secured and who can access it. Every device within the organisation should be able to be identified, with data backed up off-site. Understanding this infrastructure will help you identify potential weak spots and put measures in place to prevent attack.
Cloud-based systems are much safer as your business’ data is kept securely. Cloud technology brings with it built-in robust security features, so you can rest assured your data is being looked after safely.
The aftermath of COVID-19
Security limitations have suddenly got wider as more and more employees work remotely. Instead of managing workers in a small range of satellite offices, businesses have employees working in hundreds of different settings.
Are employees using shared WiFi? Are they working from their own devices? Agile working revolves around enabling employees to work effectively from anywhere. This includes working safely from different locations, with no additional risk of a cyber-attack.
Your organisation has probably made tech decisions based on an office working structure, not anticipating a sudden and widespread shift towards home working. As businesses prepare their return-to-work plans, will your cyber security fit the bill? Organisations should review and renew their tech stack with urgency.
Ultimately, if your work environment looks the same as it did twelve months ago, something has gone wrong. Short-term solutions should be reviewed with a long-term goal in mind.
Cyber-crime is big business
Organisations are spending more than ever to protect themselves against cyber-attacks. But the costs of a breach are rising too. In fact, according to the Hiscox Cyber Readiness Report, financial impact on those affected by cyber-crime has risen nearly six-fold.
In most cases, it’s not personal. Cyber criminals aren’t trying to target your business specifically; they’re looking for weak points of entry. Many cyber-attacks are quite basic – think of a petty thief just trying out car handles to see if one has been left unlocked. However, if you’re vulnerable to simple attacks, it could mark your business as a target for more sophisticated, in-depth cyber-crime activity. Provide a watertight defence and ensure your business is protected.
Cyber-attacks can be small and mighty, too. From a few email addresses stolen, to swathes of data held to ransom, you never know what might be just around the corner and the impact it could have on you, your business and your customers. A significant data breach could cost your business money and damage your reputation.
Following a data breach, criminals will often attempt to sell personal information on the dark web. Some credit companies, such as Experian, now offer dark web monitoring, helping you to find out if personal information has been compromised. This enables you to take additional steps to prevent fraud, protect your finances and ensure your identity is kept safe. With all manner of personal data available to purchase on the dark web, it’s easy to understand how cyber criminals make money from even small data breaches.
Consider Cyber Essentials certification
Cyber Essentials is a Government backed scheme that offers advice on how to protect your business against common cyber-attacks. It will certify either by self-assessment or hands-on technical verification that your business has put necessary protections in place. Babble’s cyber experts can guide you through the process and help you get certified. This will enhance customer trust and potentially attract new business, as certification is proof that you’re taking data protection and cyber security seriously.
Partner with cyber experts to support your people
Cyber threat is often about isolating people. When we’re alone in the comfort of our own inbox, clicking a link seems harmless. Cyber criminals create a sense of trust which makes it difficult to identify when a link or email is fraudulent.
Make sure your team knows who to turn to for advice should they need it. From an in-house team of IT experts through to outsourced cyber-security specialists, your team should have access to professionals who can help answer specific queries or help to identify cyber-security-related issues.
Businesses must recognise the importance of executive management engagement in cyber-related policies. Boosting cyber resilience can often rely on securing buy-in from business leaders and releasing the budget to enhance cyber security. Leaders must step up now and realise cyber security is not optional: it’s essential.