The rise of cybercrime – and how to prevent a breach
While the most newsworthy instances of cybercrime involve huge multinational corporations, smaller businesses are hugely at risk too – in fact, possibly even more so as smaller businesses tend to have less money to spend on security, and less staff to dedicate to preventing cybercrime.
Here’s why you need to think about investing in cybersecurity.
The costs associated with cybercrime are also rising; it’s estimated that it costs companies hundreds of billions of dollars a year. To try and protect themselves, companies are spending huge amounts on increased security measures.
Cybercrime doesn’t just affect a company; it affects that company’s customers, too, as their data is at risk of theft. This can open your customers up to being victims of further crime such as identity theft, and – even in the best-case scenario – can destroy trust between the customer and you. It can be hard to get this back, so preventing cybercrime is key to maintaining a strong relationship with your customer. This will also cost you money, and potentially stop you from growing the business. After all, what investor will want to invest in a company that keeps losing its information to criminals?
Hacks are getting sophisticated
Almost every company has not only a website, but also several other potential areas that can be exploited by hackers. Hackers can make huge amounts of money for successfully cracking a system, and their methods of doing so are increasingly sophisticated, well-coordinated and well-funded. It’s now safer for companies to assume their security will be breached at some point, and make sure they have safeguards in place to prevent potential breaches resulting in theft or damage to their business. Always plan for the worst, and you’re less likely to see it happen.
Tools are widely available
While increasingly skilled hackers are a huge threat, the wide availability of ‘amateur’ hacking tools means that your business is also at risk from opportunists with less hacking skills just looking to see what they can do. Cybercrime is now a business in itself, and wannabe hackers can simply order what they need online.
It’s not just the increasing sophistication of hacks that means companies need to be more vigilant than ever; governments are also introducing legislation that means companies need to protect their customers’ data or risk heavy fines. This makes spending money on cybersecurity a solid, worthwhile investment as fines can be crippling and could even mean the end of your business.
The ‘Internet of Things’
The ‘Internet of Things’ is a term used to describe the increasing number of devices – phones, tablets etc – that are connected to the Internet. While having a ton of connected devices in your home or office can be hugely convenient, they do increase the risk of a security breach. In theory, each device is an entry point for a potential hacker.
Protecting your company against cybercrime
Knowing how to protect your business and your customers against cybercrime is essential in today’s world. Here’s how to do it.
- Build it in from the ground up. You need to make sure that your employees understand the importance of cybersecurity, and make sure they know that even small, innocuous actions can result in a security breach. Even an email can contain malware, so educating your employees on what to look for and what not to do can save a lot of time and money. Hackers also know which employees to target, so make sure that everyone in your organization is equally well-informed when it comes to cybersecurity. You should also hold regular training sessions to stay up to date, as methods are changing by the day.
- Assess, assess, assess – once you have your preferred cybersecurity system in place, don’t just expect that it will always do the job. Companies face continuous and ever-changing threats from cybercriminals and being complacent is a sure-fire way to get caught out. Every time you update your network, install software or replace a piece of network equipment you should reassess your risk of a security issue and act accordingly. If you’re unfortunate enough to be the victim of an attack, you should evaluate why it happened to prevent a repeat occurrence.
- Know your weaknesses (and your strengths) no matter what size or shape your business, or what you do, there is likely to be something in your data that a hacker will find valuable. Knowing what that is can help you in the fight against cybercrime – as will knowing who has access to it. You should also make sure you understand what will happen if the data were to be stolen, and make sure anything sensitive is properly secured.
- Bring in your vendors – make sure you know the security policy and practice of every vendor or third-party organization that has access to your data, and make sure they’re on board to help protect sensitive data.
- Implement the right controls – there are three primary types of controls that deter hackers; preventive, which act as deterrents, detective, which monitor and alert, and corrective, which prevent incidents from going too far. Make sure you have all three types implemented on your network.
Learning about cybersecurity
As cybersecurity becomes ever more important, access to learning about it is also becoming more accessible, and jobs in the industry are growing too. If you want to learn more about how to protect a network from attack, whether for your own business or because you’re looking to work in the field, you can now earn entire degrees in the subject from the safety and comfort of your own home. Check out Cyber Degree Hub for information, advice and courses.
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