In the UK alone, since the pandemic, cybersecurity attacks have increased by over 30%. According toGovernment figures, a staggering four in ten businesses have reported cyber security breaches or attacks over the last year.
In short, cybercrime has shown no signs of slowing down since 2020 and many businesses remain ill-prepared for a potential attack on their IT systems.
Unfortunately, these cyber attacks are both costly and detrimental to businesses operations. The UK Government ran a survey that saw the average cost to a business hit by cybercriminals was up to £115,000. For some businesses, this is the difference between operating and going bankrupt – a risk that is not worth taking in today’s business environment.
Adding to this, nearly 90% of companies faced increased cyberattacks during COVID-19. It is therefore not a case of whether your business will be cyber-attacked, but rather when.
So what are you doing to safeguard your business against cyberattacks?
Read on to find out what you can do to improve your cybersecurity protocols and defence systems and keep your business safe.
The Main Cybersecurity Threats to Your Business (and how you can mitigate against them)
There are many different forms of cyber threats to a businesses IT systems and intellectual property. However, while these may come in various forms, they sit under specific categories that you can plan for.
Here are four of the main cyber threats, and how, with the help of additional IT support and planning, you can keep your business protected:
Problem #1: Unstable Remote Working Environment
As a result of the COVID pandemic, the working landscape has changed, with 66% of organisations delaying office reopenings according to a Gartner survey of 238 executive leaders (August 2021).
This means the majority of a business’s workforce is likely to be working remotely for at least part of the working week.
Aside from the interesting questions that raises about hybrid or flexible working, businesses must ensure their workers are safe, wherever they choose to work.
The problem is that when employees are working remotely – from home, in a local coffee shop, wherever it might be – businesses can’t guarantee they’re adequately secure unless they put in the right measures.
Three aspects of security companies need to think about are:
- The exploitation of remote access solutions
- Thread hijacking
- Compromised endpoints.
From a remote access solution standpoint, the use of virtual private networks (VPNs) using the remote desktop protocol can present risks to password security and VPN security through vulnerabilities in the VPN system. This allows hackers to target corporate networks and acquire data.
Endpoints in remote working are vulnerable because the device endpoints sit outside of the corporate infrastructure where the highest cybersecurity levels are implemented. The devices are much easier to access through smart technology or unprotected wifi systems and also are less likely to have the latest updated software or hardware. This means they are far more susceptible to cyber-attacks.
Problem #2: Social Engineering Threat
Social engineering has been a cybersecurity threat since the dawn of the internet.
It’s merely evolved over time with new ways cybercriminals social engineer their crimes. Interestingly, as part of the increase in cybercrime since 2020, around 33% of cybercrimes were related to social engineering. Nine out of ten were phishing attacks, with 47% of people clicked a phishing link since working from home.
Social engineering attacks include phishing emails that look and read similar to that of the actual imitated company/government communications, or as a person infiltrating the company acting as a member of the team.
Social engineering also includes scareware – a form of ransomware designed to scare workers into submission through threats, blackmail and other extortion tactics. There are more instances – all designed to manipulate recipients into submission and allow the cybercriminal to achieve their target.
Problem #3: Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware enters your IT system through software that is downloaded from malicious websites or clicking on content created to look exactly like the website/content you are visiting.
The software then steals your data, encrypts it and demands money in order to release it.
Ransomware is a top 3 malware used in nearly 25% of all data breaches by cybercriminals. This is an effective way for cybercriminals to ascertain financial payment from companies to retrieve their data.
Further, 8% of businesses in the UK were hit by this cybercrime and up to 58% of small businesses are reported to actually pay the ransomware, contributing to the £115,000 statistics in the Government’s survey.
Problem #4: Insecure Cloud Computing
People still think of the Cloud as something new. Sadly, it’s not as sophisticated as we often think, with vulnerabilities growing year on year. Furthermore, cloud cybercrime has increased dramatically since the pandemic.
The issue arises with the depth in requirements from cloud computing as businesses move towards digital transformation from analogue systems and require more functionality from their cloud-based system.
One of the biggest issues for businesses is the ease with which hackers can get into cloud-based systems, especially when accounts aren’t password protected. Cyber attackers simply scan servers, find no passwords and infiltrate cloud systems.
Another issue is when businesses fail to update their security protocols, leaving their systems and user accounts open to attack.
Not only is it crucial to ensure your system is regularly updated, secure and monitored, but to monitor end-user actions and their device usage. This way you can ensure your IP is kept safe from potential security breaches.
How you can protect your business
Provide your employees regular training, covering the risks of data loss and malware infection resulting from phishing, social engineering and malware attacks. Educate them on how they can protect their accounts and devices from scams and attacks.
Policies and protocols
Set out your company policies and protocols that make all systems safe wherever your team is working.
These might encourage your employees to:
- Refrain from letting friends and family use their devices
- Avoid using public wifi wherever possible
- Use multifactor authentication on their accounts
- Install anti-virus and email/web gateway security on their remote devices.
Use Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) for remote working
Enable your remote staff to use a virtual private network (VPN) or equivalent so that they can have the extra security they need.
Use a password manager
Using a company-wide password manager will cut down the problem of employees having to remember complicated (albeit safe) passwords.
It’s your job to deploy the additional layers of security to make sure the more sophisticated cyber criminals are kept at bay. Data encryption is just one thing you can do to protect your assets. Make sure you encrypt your most sensitive data first.
The combination of increasingly sophisticated cyber activity and the growing trend towards remote working means a more pressing need for businesses to protect their systems from attacks.
We strongly advise seeking professional advice and guidance from a reputable IT Support company if you have any doubts about your network security, or to learn how you can further increase protection.
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