All of us are doing more and more over the internet. We buy products online, we bank online, we hold work meetings online and connect with loved ones online. It’s hard to imagine what we would do without digital technology in our lives.
As our use of cloud services, internet-ready devices and online services grow, however so do the risks.
Cybercriminals and hackers are trying to steal our personal data and intellectual property for their own gain. This means a robust approach to cybersecurity is no longer something that is ‘nice to have’ but is essential for all businesses and organisations.
In this article we will be taking a thorough look at what cybersecurity entails, and why it is so important to keep your organisation safe in 2021… and beyond.
What is cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity is the process of protecting systems, networks and devices from the risk of attack. As well as safeguarding systems, cybersecurity also refers to processes used to recover data and files from successful cyberattacks.
Successful cyberattacks cost time and money to put right, and can also result in negative customer sentiment.
Examples of threats to cybersecurity include:
- Ransomware: This is when a piece of malicious software (also known as’ malware’) is activated on a computer or server and encrypts files, locking them down. The attacker then asks for money to return the files to how they were before.
- Phishing: This is when a cybercriminal poses as someone else (either by email, SMS or over the phone) to lure people into providing personal information like credit card details and passwords
- Spyware: This is when a cybercriminal puts software on someone’s computer, which logs their internet history, passwords, bank details and other sensitive information
- Social media hacking: This is when a cybercriminal hacks into a business’s social media account, in an attempt to send irrelevant or harmful messages to their followers
- Denial of service (DoS) attack: This is when a cybercriminal tries to shut down a network or server by flooding it with traffic, to prevent other people from using it
- Natural disasters: As well as hackers and cybercriminals, data can be destroyed or impaired by natural disasters like flooding and earthquakes
The risk of cyberattacks is growing all the time. This is because the software needed to execute it is easy to find, and it is exceedingly hard to track the criminals who carry it out.
Reasons why cybersecurity is essential
We are more reliant on technology than ever before. Criminals know this, and use our reliance on websites, mobile apps and online systems against us.
Companies large and small are at risk of cyberattacks, with businesses like eBay, Adobe, Yahoo and LinkedIn all falling victim in the past few years.
Here are some of the reasons why cybersecurity is so important.
It will keep you compliant with the law
Governments across the world are now aware of the damage that cybercrime can inflict, and have put the responsibility on protecting data with businesses.
For example, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) makes organisations across Europe responsible for safeguarding personal information, with fines in place for those who are involved in data breaches. If you are found guilty of a breach, there is a maximum fine of £17.5 million or 4% of annual turnover, whichever is greater.
It will ensure your business stays up and running
Cyberattacks take time and money to resolve, with the average breach taking 55 days to fix. This takes vital time, money and staff resources away from sustaining your business.
Protecting against cyberattacks happening in the first place will help to safeguard your business and means your staff can spend their time helping to grow your business instead.
It will keep your customers (and your business) safe
If your business holds a lot of sensitive personal data about your customers, you need to keep it safe.
Losing information in a data breach will cause customers to lose confidence in your business, as well as potentially result in negative publicity. In fact, 41% of customers say that they will no longer do business with a company if it loses or compromises their data.
How to protect your business from the threat of cybercrime
All businesses need to have cybersecurity measures in place. Here are some of the ways that you can keep your business, as well as your staff and customers, protected.
Regularly check your cybersecurity arrangements
Having a solid cybersecurity process in place, as well as reviewing it frequently, will ensure that your business is fully prepared in the event of a cyberattack. For example:
- Which staff and third parties will have what access privileges?
- Which staff will need to be involved in the case of a cybersecurity threat?
- What training will you have in place for staff? (more about that later)
- How will you back up your company data?
- How will you relay the news to your customers?
An accreditation like ISO 27001 or Cyber Essentials will help give you a solid framework to help protect your business, as well as reassure your customers.
You will also need to check the cybersecurity arrangements of any third parties you work with. If they are involved in an attack or a data breach, you need to know how they will handle it.
Plan offensively and defensively
It’s a great idea to plan to protect against threats, but you also need a plan in place if you encounter a cyberattack.
You need to be both proactive and reactive, as new threats emerge every day.
Keep your software up to date
Cybercriminals can exploit old software and programmes. You need to make sure that your staff are using the most up-to-date products and that you regularly patch your systems to fix any exploits.
Train your staff
You are only as strong as your weakest link. Many cyberattacks come from staff ingenuously clicking on emails or links that can cause harm.
Having a robust cybersecurity policy in place and providing training across the business will make staff aware of how to identify suspicious emails, links and phone calls.
Consider physical access
As well as digital access, you need to consider physical access to your data too. Although it is rarer these days, some cyberattackers gain access to data onsite.
- Will you lock down access to USB ports?
- What will you do if a piece of hardware goes missing or is stolen?
- Will you have security cameras in restricted areas?
- How will people access restricted areas? For example, will you have a swipe card system in place?
- How will you manage and record access to third parties onsite?
- Which staff will have access to restricted areas, and how will you monitor access?
In summary – make sure your business is protected from the threat of cybercrime
Businesses large and small must have cybersecurity measures in place to not only protect their intellectual property, but to safeguard their customer’s data.
Prevention is better than cure and having a thorough cybersecurity strategy in place is vital for all companies.
If you would like to know more about how cybersecurity training could benefit your business as well as save you time and money, we are here to help. Get in touch with us today to talk to one of our specialists.