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Tips to Keep Your Business Safe from Cyber Threats

Jan 21, 2024

Cybersecurity should be a concern for business owners, regardless of the size of their business. Surprisingly, small businesses are frequently targeted in cyber attacks.

Data from Australia show that more than 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses.

In 2022, 2 in 5 adults were affected by cybercrime. If your business employs between 100 and 500 people, the average cyber attack will set you back $1.9 million.

And if that doesn’t resonate with you, just think about the reasons why the global cybersecurity expenditure is projected to reach $188.1 billion in 2023. The digital world is not a safe place. Your business’ wellbeing is at risk. You need to do something.

Why is Cyber Security Important for Businesses?

In our digital age, almost every business has an online presence. Whether it’s a website, social media account, or digital transactions, the online world is a crucial part of business operations. This makes Cyber Security not just important, but critical for businesses.

A solid Cyber Security strategy not only protects your business from data breaches and attacks but also builds trust among your clients and stakeholders. It communicates that you value their data and are taking proactive measures to ensure its safety. In an era where data breaches are becoming alarmingly regular, this trust can be a significant competitive advantage.

Moreover, Cyber Security also impacts a business’s bottom line. A single cyber attack can result in significant financial losses due to interrupted operations, lost data, and even lawsuits. Investing in Cyber Security is not just about preventing losses—it’s about ensuring operational continuity and business sustainability.

Rising Threat of Cyber Attacks

Today, cyber threats are more prevalent than ever before. As businesses continue to digitise their operations, cybercriminals are finding new and sophisticated ways to breach security defenses. From ransomware to phishing attacks, the threat landscape is rapidly evolving.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further fueled the rise in cyber threats. With businesses shifting to remote work, cybercriminals have found new vulnerabilities to exploit. The sudden surge in remote access points and the increased use of personal devices for work have created new avenues for attacks.

Cybercriminals are also leveraging advanced technologies like AI and machine learning to carry out their nefarious activities. This makes their attacks more sophisticated, harder to detect, and even harder to mitigate. The rising threat of cyber attacks underscores the need for businesses to prioritise Cyber Security.

Understanding the Cyber Threat Landscape

Understanding the cyber threat landscape is the first step towards effective cyber security. Cybercriminals employ various methods to breach your systems and gain unauthorised access to sensitive information. Here are some of the most common threats:

  • Social Engineering Attacks
    Social engineering involves manipulating individuals into divulging confidential information. Phishing emails, which appear to come from legitimate sources, are a common form of social engineering. These emails typically trick victims into revealing sensitive data or transferring funds to fraudulent accounts.
  • Malware Attacks
    Malware refers to malicious software designed to damage systems or gain unauthorised access to data. Examples of malware include viruses, ransomware, and spyware.

  • Ransomware Attacks
    Ransomware attacks, which involve encrypting a victim’s data and demanding a ransom for its release, are particularly damaging.  You probably heard of WannaCry.  It was a particularly impactful one, as were GoldenEye, NotPetya, and a bunch of others.
  • Remote Working Vulnerabilities
    The shift towards remote working has opened up new avenues for cyber attacks. Remote workers often connect to company networks from personal devices or insecure networks, increasing the risk of a breach.

This is nowhere near to a complete list. There are DDoS attacks, zero-day exploits, SQL injections, and many other ways people will try to take advantage of or damage your business. And besides knowing how to recognise what’s going on when your system starts behaving weird, you need to know how to react.

Impact of Cyber Attacks on Your Business

A successful cyber attack can have devastating consequences for a business. The most immediate impact is the financial loss. This can stem from the disruption of operations, the cost of remediation, and potential fines or lawsuits resulting from data breaches.

Alongside the financial loss, a cyber attack can also severely damage a business’s reputation. Trust is a hard-earned commodity, and a single breach can shatter the trust of clients and stakeholders. The subsequent loss of business can have long-term implications that far outweigh the immediate financial losses.

Furthermore, cyber threats can also impact a business’s strategic objectives. A security breach can divert resources away from core business functions, affecting productivity and business growth. In severe cases, the disruption can be so significant that it threatens the very survival of the business.

Implementing Cyber Security Measures

Effective Cyber Security is not just about having the latest technology—it’s a holistic approach that involves people, processes, and technology.

  • Robust security policy
    This defines how your business will protect its digital assets and outlines the procedures to follow in case of a security incident.  This includes managing user access to prevent authorised access to sensitive data.
  • Adopting Safe Password Practices
    Weak, stolen, or lost passwords account for a significant proportion of data breaches. Encourage your employees to use unique, complex passwords for each account and change them regularly. Multi-factor authentication, which requires multiple forms of verification to log in, can provide an additional layer of security.
  • Securing your hardware
    Physical theft of devices like laptops and mobiles can lead to data breaches. Secure your devices with passwords, PINs, or biometrics, and ensure they are stored in secure locations.
  • Updating your Software
    Keeping your software up-to-date is crucial for protecting against known vulnerabilities. Software updates often include patches for security flaws that could be exploited by cybercriminals.
  • Employee Training
    Your employees can be your first line of defense against cyber threats. The human factor is usually the weakest point in your security defense.  Regularly training your staff on identifying phishing emails, maintaining strong passwords, and handling sensitive information can significantly reduce the likelihood of a breach.

Training Your Employees on Cyber Security Best Practices

As mentioned, the human factor is the usually the weakest point in your security defense.

Employees are a crucial part of your Cyber Security strategy. They can either be your strongest defense or your biggest weakness. Therefore, regular training and awareness programs are essential.

Your training should cover the basics of Cyber Security, including the different types of threats and how to identify them. It should also provide clear guidelines on what to do in case of a security incident.

Furthermore, your training should also foster a security-conscious culture within your business. This means encouraging safe online habits, like using strong passwords, being cautious with email attachments, and avoiding suspicious websites.

Next, you should establish safe communication practices. Employees should know who they can and can’t contact using their business emails, and what type of data they can share. You might also want to address the issues that arise from using the employee’s devices at work and with the business’ network.

Steps to Building a Robust Cyber Security Strategy

A robust Cyber Security strategy is a comprehensive plan that outlines how your business will protect its digital assets.

The first step is to identify your critical assets and understand the potential risks they face. This enables you to prioritise your security efforts and allocate resources effectively.

Once you’ve identified your critical assets and risks, you need to define your security objectives. These should align with your business goals and take into account the regulatory requirements your business needs to comply with.

The next step is to select the appropriate security measures. This involves choosing the right technology or partner in implementing the necessary processes. Regular testing and review of your security measures are also crucial to ensure their effectiveness.

How to React to an Attack

The first thing you need to do when you suspect your business has been a victim of a cyber attack is to put your response plan into action. Here’s why you need a response plan.

No one takes cyber attacks lightly, and that includes the authorities. You might be obliged to do some things if you’ve had a data breach. Even operating on certain markets makes you subject to the rules of that market regarding data protection and reporting of security breaches.

You also need to make sure the authorities know what happened. Just like any other crime, cyber attacks are something you report, and you report them to the ACORN. But you should also change your passwords, notify your bank and even freeze accounts, make secure backups and reinstall systems, and do whatever else minimises the potential damage in the short term.

Then you might need to hire a forensic team to determine the extent of the attack and help you shore up your defenses properly.

You will need to do all of that quickly under the looming threat of your business going under due to a catastrophic attack. And that’s why it pays off to establish security procedures beforehand and be ready for a cyber attack, security breach, or any other potentially dangerous incident.

Staying Informed

Keeping abreast of the latest cyber threats and security measures is essential for maintaining your business’s cyber security. Sign up for cyber security alerts and keep yourself informed about the latest developments in the field.

Safeguarding Your Business in the Digital Age

In conclusion, Cyber Security is a critical aspect of doing business in the digital age. The rising threat of cyber attacks and their potential impact on your business underscores the need for a robust Cyber Security strategy.

This involves understanding your risks, implementing the right security measures, training your employees, and choosing the right solutions. With a comprehensive approach to Cyber Security, you can safeguard your business and ensure its sustainability in the digital age.

Remember, Cyber Security is not a one-time effort—it’s an ongoing process of adaptation and improvement. Stay vigilant, stay updated, and stay safe.