The cost of cybercrime is becoming astronomical – over $10 billion in 2022. But if you were to rely on popular TV shows, the question “What is cyber security?” might leave you with the vague impression that you should avoid pale guys in hoodies who live in shadowy bunkers lined with eerie flickering screens and empty pizza containers.
In reality, most cybercrooks work regular hours in ordinary offices, just like millions of others in ordinary businesses worldwide. The difference is that their bosses train, pay, and give them the tools to trick and scam innocent people.
Large or small organizations need a comprehensive approach covering cyber threat prevention, detection, response, and recovery. In this article, we’ll discuss some steps to help businesses identify and mitigate cyber threats.
Cyberthreats cost billions every year
Cybercriminals use a vast range of professionally designed attack methods, such as malware infections, leveraging exploits in software and web browsers, hacking into systems, or blackmailing companies with ransomware or DDoS attacks.
Cybersecurity is a term for all the measures you take to thwart attempts to gain unlawful access to your systems, network, or your company data.
Cyberattacks can compromise sensitive data and disrupt operations, and can even result in legal liabilities. According to Infosecurity Magazine, cyber-attacks cost small US businesses $25k annually.
- Don’t underestimate your exposure: Cybercriminals love to target small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). They know that smaller companies falsely believe they’re too small to bother with or can’t always afford to employ full-time security professionals.
- Don’t underestimate their skill: The cybercrime industry employs millions of people who make a living from tricking people into revealing private information or getting them to install malicious software via phishing, spamming, or spoofing.
- Don’t underestimate the harm: Scams, email attacks, and malicious software can compromise your company data. But criminals can also steal your customer data and use it to commit fraud and identity theft. If people find out that you were the source who leaked their private data, it could harm your company’s reputation so much that you could lose your business.
- Don’t underestimate the cost: The costs may go far beyond replacing a few laptops. Malware infections can persist in networks and keep causing damage long after the first incident.
Build resilience with a layered approach
Cybercriminals are so clever that relying on people’s common sense is dangerous. Even a tiny company with just a few employees should formalize how they use technology.
Acceptable IT use and cybersecurity policy
What constitutes acceptable use of your company’s identity or brand? For example, would you be happy if a staff member used their business email on social media and accidentally endorsed a competitor’s product? May employees use their business devices to play online games? Is it OK to access confidential data via an unsecured smartphone? What if kids get their hands on your employee’s work phone?
Use the policy to stipulate password requirements and make multi-factor authentication compulsory. And what about data storage? Can they copy company documents to USB storage and plug them into a possibly infected home device?
Shadow IT can also cause damage. What if workers installed pirated software or disabled your carefully chosen antivirus? What are the implications if someone retrieves confidential data from an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot?
Write a disaster recovery plan
Security breaches are becoming almost inevitable, so you need a plan to help prevent security incidents and minimize the impact if they should occur. You’ll need to restore your information and files and manage the fallout so that you can get back to business as quickly as possible.
A disaster recovery plan should include the steps each person should take to prevent or reduce the effects of an incident. How should they report possible problems, and what actions should each person take? Who will take charge of dealing with a cyber attack?
People have become sensitized to companies collecting private information during business transactions. That awareness has led to laws about what businesses can do with personal information and the steps they must take to keep personal information safe. Leasing customer information will damage your business reputation, and you could face legal consequences.
Basic cyber security hygiene
Every company should consider working with a security specialist to create a cyber risk management plan. Threat intelligence tools and services have become more affordable and accessible, and they give companies the edge in the fight against cybercrime. But you don’t need a specialist to take the basic steps:
- Deploy a firewall plus an endpoint security solution to protect the mobile devices, tablets, and laptops in your network
- Strengthen the protection with a Wi-Fi protection solution. A VPN can protect your network from infected Wi-Fi-enabled gadgets and network penetration via unsecured wifi access points.
- Make backups of all data in secure off-site locations. Practice how to restore your systems to ensure you’ve thought of everything.
- Keep all software updated, and upgrade or replace hardware on a rolling basis.
- Use a company-wide password management solution.
Cybercrime statistics keep rising, and no one can ignore the harm it could cause to an organization unprepared for a cyber attack. Businesses can easily improve their security position by formalizing their response to cyber threats and using commonly available commercial threat response tools.