In the last few decades, cybersecurity has become an integral part of securing companies because of the rising rate of cyber-crime. Information is the core business of cyber-criminals, and any data sells on the dark web. It is crucial that all businesses, large or small, safeguard their client data for several reasons:
Loss of reputation
A company is only as good as its reputation. Clients trust you with their data, expecting you to be discreet and keep all their transactions with you confidential. If your business is hacked and data leaks, your business reputation is at risk. Word travels fast, and no matter how much you try to salvage your business reputation, clients will shy away from you.
If your system is hacked, it is almost a given that clients’ whose data leaks will file lawsuits against your business. Lawsuits cost your business a lot of money, and together with reputation loss, your business will go down fast. A client called Theresa Stevens sued Zappos, an online retailer for clothes and shoes. Theresa cited that her information had been stored in the company’s database long before Zappos experienced a breach, and thus the company was liable for damages.
If your business is hacked, its overall market value goes down, and shares prices fall. It takes a long time to bounce back if at all you do.
Types of cyber risks that affect businesses
As a business, you must know what cyber-risks you are up against. Cybercriminals have upped their game, and the worms and Trojan horses used ten years ago have evolved into sophisticated programs. Some of the risks for businesses include:
Phishing attacks are quite common and use email messages to reach their victims. They refer to attempts by malicious entities to obtain sensitive information while pretending to be trustworthy contacts such as banks. There are different types of phishing, such as spear phishing, which is an attempt to obtain information from a specific individual. A phishing email is persuasive and uses seemingly official logos and faultless wording that leaves no doubt about its authenticity.
Ransomware is a type of malware, which encrypts or scrambles your devices or data, making it impossible for you to access it. The hackers proceed to demand payment, usually using cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, as they are hard to trace. Once you make the payment, the hackers promise to give you the decryption code, but there is never a guarantee that they will.
Data breaches happen in many ways, and most of the time they are caused by the use of mobile devices such as smartphones, or via storage devices, which are useful for data transfer and transportation, and make them an easy target for cybercriminals.
If your business has full-time employees, there is a possibility they might leak data, either maliciously or inadvertently. You cannot afford to underestimate the potential for insiders to leak data. In 2016, a hacker who pretended to be the current CEO of Snapchat duped an employee into emailing him payroll data of approximately 700 employees, (both current and former.)
5.Artificial Intelligence-enhanced threats
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming more popular in mainstream businesses and attracting its fair share of cyber-criminals. The capabilities of AI that can be used to identify and eliminate cyber threats are the same ones used to launch cyber-attacks in the form of sophisticated malware.
How to mitigate cyber-risks in your business
These cyber risks might spell doom for your business unless you stop them in their tracks. You can use several measures to protect your data, such as:
A VPN or a Virtual Private Network works by creating a secure tunnel through which your devices can access the internet. When using mobile devices, most people log into free Wi-Fi networks, especially when in airport lounges or coffee shops. Hackers love lurking in such open and unsecured networks, waiting to pounce on unsecured devices to steal data.
Downloading a VPN app has many benefits, including hiding your locations and masking IP addresses, instead of allocating you with virtual locations, making it hard for a hacker to gauge your exact whereabouts.
Backup your data
Regularly back up your data. Backing up ensures you minimize your risk of losing all your data via system failure or ransomware. Client data and all sensitive data need to be backed up in a remote storage facility, which eliminates the need for your company to pay ransom to hackers.
Use strong passwords
There has been a lot of debate on how strong a password should be. Ideally, a strong password should have 8 to 12 characters, which include a mix of numbers, upper and lower case letters, and special characters. The general rule of thumb with passwords is that they should be easy to memorize and impossible for anyone to guess.
Incident response plan
Incident response plans are integral parts of a business’s data program that help to minimize the costs of data breaches. The plans include:
a) Identification of the last known backup and restoration of the same
b) Having communication procedures with law enforcers
c) Isolation protocols for the infected devices
d) Isolation protocols for the non-infected devices.
Install anti-malware, anti-spyware and anti-virus software
Ensure you install security software such as anti-malware, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software, which help to detect and eliminate malicious code if it enters your network. Learn how to detect malware, virus, and spam attacks. Update all your programs and systems, as well as updates, contain important security updates that help in protecting your system against known vulnerabilities and bugs.
Businesses hold confidential and sensitive client data that has the potential to ruin your business if it falls into the wrong hands. Cyber threats evolve every day. You have to keep up with the cyber-criminals’ techniques by mitigating the risks with various types of security measures such as VPNs, backing up data, strong passwords, response plans in case of a hacking incident, and installing anti-malware, anti-spyware and anti-virus software. Teaching staff how to recognize scams goes a long way in helping to protect your system.