It is alarming that despite the advancement in digital and computer technologies, more enterprises are becoming vulnerable to cybercrimes, with data theft being one of the most common. It’s not surprising, considering that more and more valuable information is collected and shared online because of the growth of the digital economy.
Cybercrime is the fastest growing criminal activity, with a potential to cost businesses about $6 trillion a year by 2021, according to a Cybersecurity Ventures report.
Despite the many incidences of cyberattacks many enterprises suffered in recent years until today that nearly paralyzed their operation as well as that of their affiliates, many modern business owners do not believe that they, too, could become a victim one day. Businesses large and small should take this worldwide problem seriously.
In March 2019, Accenture released its Ninth Annual Cost of Cybercrime Study where it is predicted that within five years, cybercrime will cost businesses worldwide about $5.2 trillion. The same report says that cyber criminals are targeting more than just data. They do not just copy data; they are now destroying them. They are also after the core systems, for example, the industrial controls, with the objective of disrupting and destroying enterprises.
As their attacking methods evolve, they have identified the weakest link—humans. Social engineering and phishing, malicious insider and ransomware are now the most popular ways for cyber criminals to quickly attack their targets. Most hackers earn big money from stealing information. Stolen credit card and bank information and duplicating them will earn hackers millions in no time.
Cyber security costs money. However, protecting your enterprise against data breach can provide your business with more revenue potential. It’s a trade-off and one that cannot be ignored. Cyber criminals are capable of launching several attacks at any given time, and one of those can compromise business operations partially or completely.
Impact of cyberattacks on small businesses
Not only will your revenue suffer when you become a victim of a cyberattack. You’ll lose consumer trust and your business standing will be affected. A cyberattack leads to huge financial losses from the theft of corporate and financial information, such as payments through credit cards and bank details. You will not be able to do online transactions. Most of your contacts will be lost as well. The cost of repairing devices, networks and systems is immense.
A cyberattack has a legal impact on your business. You could face fines and sanctions for failing to put appropriate security measures in place as defined by the data breach laws applicable in your state if you are in the U.S.
Increasing incidence of data breaches
Accenture’s study indicated that the average security breaches in 2019 are 145, which is an 11 percent increase over 2018. It seems small but looking at the figures for the last five years, the actual increase is 67 percent. Each lost data costs about $148 (2018), so you can imagine the millions of dollars lost due to data breaches.
Cybercrime is either accidental or intentional, what with the growing use of advanced digital devices, smart gadgets and the improvement in internet penetration and use. Office workers have more access to all kinds of information, some of them sensitive.
The threat is real and business owners should be ready with a cyber security plan to ensure data protection. You’ll find various tips and guides for cyber protection and we’ve compiled the best practices right here.
Digital asset security
Digital assets are the easiest to steal, and cyber criminals would often use mechanisms like Domain Name System (DNS) spoofing or man-in-the-middle attacks to steal data en route from their origin to destination. When your DNS service is compromised, you never know whether your data is going to the correct destination (e.g., your data server or database) or not, as domain names can be spoofed to reroute your traffic to another server.
Attacks on such a level are hard to detect. Network traffic is rarely analyzed and difficult to study in real time using peripheral inspection solutions, making it easier for attackers to penetrate DNS open resolvers. To address this, you need to strengthen DNS security os DNSSEC, which adds a stronger layer of safeguards through authentication measures. This can prevent a large number of undetected cyberattacks that could create the most damage to enterprises.
Data access controls
In today’s business environment where computerization is the norm, it becomes essential to control the data access of employees from the start. Not every employee should be given carte blanche access to all company information. To minimize unintentional or intentional data breach, ensure that employees can only access files that they essentially need to finish their tasks.
Employ several levels of authentication to prevent unauthorized access. Activate device and app setting that automatically logs out a user after a pre-determined period of inactivity.
Do not forget the existence of physical data. Install a system, such as fingerprint authentication or smart card to prevent unauthorized access to your data storage room.
Biometric security offers several benefits, from fast authentication, precision in monitoring employees to efficient management of access. It’s easier to verify the identities of users with the system. You have several options, including gait analysis, behavioral biometrics, facial recognition, palm biometrics, fingerprint scans and voice recognition.
MarketsandMarkets predicts that the biometrics market will grow from $16.8 billion (2018) to $41.8 billion in five years.
It might look quite simple, but password security is vital to corporate security. Effective password management is critical, as it covers privileged access management. Employees with privileged accounts are prime targets of cyber criminals as they have access to the most confidential corporate information. Hackers continue to use password spray attacks, so secure staff passwords immediately. You should check the recommendations of the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center soonest.
Staff training and education
Last but not the least, your staff is one of the most vulnerable targets of a cyberattack today. With training you are providing your employees with the tools to see their negligent behaviors and the malicious behavior of other people. They will be more security conscious and ensure that security and privacy are always a priority.
You can have a data security policy in place. Identify and sort data into different categories, like confidential data, external data, internal data and general data. Your policy can include the following:
Employ minimal data transfer by identifying which data can be transferred to another device. It is vital that critical data should not be transferred into removable media.
Unless required in your business, practice shredding printed copies of critical information.
Define your company’s computer policies, including using and accessing only trusted websites.
Use the cloud for data storage. Experts encrypt and monitor cloud servers so they can immediately identify odd activities. Likewise cloud servers can give and remove access permissions easily.
Cyber security is everyone’s responsibility. As technology progresses, so do cyber criminals. It’s vital to be one or two steps ahead of them. Emerging cyber security technologies may be able to provide more solutions. As early as today, check out Hardware Authentication, which Intel is developing, User-behavior Analytics (UBA), Encryption and Tokenization (for data loss prevention), Deep Learning that includes machine learning and AI, and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service).
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