Securing Your Business: A Guide to Cybersecurity Amid Rising Cyber Threats
As technology advances, businesses are faced with a double-edged sword. Emerging technology helps them to implement more efficient operations, better customer service, and achieve ambitious goals at an elevated pace. On the other hand, advanced technology can make it easier for cyber attackers to target businesses by stealing data and holding sensitive information for ransom which taints the reputation of the targeted companies. So, if you don’t currently have an up-to-date cybersecurity strategy, keep reading.
Why cybersecurity is a business priority
While most of us have spotted a phishing email before, we can’t become complacent because the risk of cyberattacks on individuals and businesses alike is only increasing. In fact, the global annual cost of cybercrime is predicted to hit $8 trillion in 2023 and will grow to $10.5 trillion by 2025. There are various reasons behind this concerning trend.
The level of sophistication
Cyberattacks are getting more sophisticated and, therefore, harder to spot and resolve. For example, cybercriminals can breach standard multi-factor authentication programmes. The wide-scale application of AI and ML technology has aided the advancement of cyberattack capabilities, enabling cybercriminals to automatically run convincing attacks on a large scale.
All businesses are targets
Previously, big brand names and national infrastructure have been the main targets. While they are still under threat, cybercriminals are also targeting small and medium-sized businesses. Research has found that 43% of attacks are aimed at SMBs, at least partly because their security measures are easier to breach than large corporations, as only 14% of SMBs are prepared to defend themselves. This enables criminals to achieve a higher number of successful attacks.
Reliance on interconnected ecosystems
We are more connected than ever, so cyberattacks can create a more significant negative impact. Internally, the Internet of Things means that the workforce can access critical company information on various devices, and one weak link could create a company-wide breach. Externally, many businesses rely on supply chains and share data with outside parties as part of the working relationship. Therefore, a breach in one part of the supply chain could impact the whole supply chain. It’s been predicted that by 2025, a supply chain attack will affect 45% of global organisations in some way.
The politicisation of cyber attacks
While some cybercriminals are money motivated, whether the money is from ransoms or from selling stolen data, others have political motives. As geopolitical conflict deepens divides and intensifies polarisation, more targeted cyberattacks can be expected. For example, 65% of organisations reported increased cyberattacks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Rampant cybersecurity threats to be aware of
Cybersecurity attacks are not new. But the form they take does change as technology develops. Your cybersecurity strategy needs to account for these common cyberattacks.
Convincing phishing attacks
Phishing attacks are still rampant, having increased by 61% in 2022. With the amount of information found openly online about a person or a business, phishing attacks, whether via email, text or phone call, are becoming harder to identify. They could look very convincing and include personal details. It’s so important to think twice, especially with the rise of deep fake technology, meaning not even audio, photos, or videos are entirely trustworthy.
Phishing attacks can lead to cybercriminals gaining access to business systems and being able to hold critical information for ransom. Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as paying the ransom and retrieving the information. Only in 50% of ransomware attacks were organisations able to recover their data after paying the ransom.
Ransoms aren’t the only way cybercriminals make money. Big data has been at the core of many growth strategies recently. If criminals gain access to the data collected by businesses about their customers, or even their employees, it can be sold on the dark web to other criminals who want to use stolen personal information for nefarious purposes.
Mobile device attacks
We are becoming increasingly reliant on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. This means that sensitive data isn’t only kept on computers and laptops and available on the go. Take banking apps as an example. All devices must be secured to prevent cybersecurity breaches because cybercriminals can take advantage of less stringent security measures on mobile devices. Half the mobile phone owners worldwide were targeted by a phishing attack every quarter in 2022.
With such a high level of risk, businesses need to take action to protect their data, finances and reputation.
How to protect your business from cyberattacks
Creating a robust cybersecurity strategy and implementing it vigilantly is critical to preventing losses from potential breaches. There are 3 primary considerations to consider when formulating and implementing your cybersecurity strategy.
Beyond office security
Whatever measures you put in place to keep company data secure, ensure the security extends beyond the office. Whether an employee is fully remote or just checks their work emails on their phone at home now and again, prevention methods need to be in place.
For example, consider mandating a strong multi-factor authentication method. Provide a company VPN the workforce can use when browsing different Wi-Fi networks. Ensure all devices and software are up to date as new updates include improved security measures by implementing automated patching.
Cross company education
The entire workforce needs to be educated on how to protect the company from data breaches as much as is in their power, such as using passphrases instead of passwords. They need to know what to look out for and what not to do, as the human element of security is the root cause of 82% of data breaches.
Cybersecurity education should be mandatory at all levels, from interns to board members. This ensures everyone knows the signs of an attempted breach, especially as company members with access to more sensitive information could be specifically targeted.
Constant optimisation of the cybersecurity ecosystem
In an ever-changing environment, cybersecurity processes should be under constant review to highlight areas of improvement. AI can support optimisation through real-time reporting and automation of processes. It even has predictive capabilities which can be used to identify and resolve security weaknesses.
Your cybersecurity ecosystem should outline protection processes in the prevention of breaches, the detection of attacks and the response to detected breaches. Preparing for every eventuality gives the business and its customers the most robust protection against cybercrime.
Businesses of every size are responsible for protecting the data they access by implementing robust cybersecurity strategies. As businesses grow with the support of emerging technologies, they need to be aware of the dark side of technology and the risk it has to the company, its partners, employees and customers. Creating a culture of vigilance, awareness, and lifelong learning will allow your workforce to stay up to date with future iterations of cybersecurity.