Cyber crime is on the rise: how can you protect your business?

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Statistically, 70% of senior business managers rate cybersecurity as a high priority but only 30% have a solid cybersecurity policy in place and most businesses invest less than $500/year in security products. If you’re worried that your business is vulnerable, the time to act is now because the numbers don’t paint a reassuring picture. 

In 2019, a hacker attack took place every 39 seconds, affecting 78% of US organizations. If you follow the news, you may have already heard of the billions of records exposed. From healthcare to government agencies and social media, hackers don’t neglect any industry and big companies like the American Medical Collection Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Capital One were in the spotlight for falling victim to data breaches and exposing clients’ personal data. But apart from these big names, which have the infrastructure and resources to bounce back after a data breach, there are also thousands of small and medium-sized businesses that don’t make it to the news but are hurt the most. 

Research shows that 65% of cyberattacks are targeted at SMEs, which are unprepared to handle the consequences. Considering that the total cost of cybercrime increased to $13 million, you have to take business security more seriously and take a few vital measures to safeguard your data against unethical players. 

Employee education is your first line of defense 

Pop culture has a way of portraying cybercriminals as these hooded figures typing away in a dark corner of a server room but before you let your imagination run loose, you should know that most cybercriminals are just creative social engineers who are really good at fooling company staff into giving away confidential information. 

In up to 60% of cases, cyberattacks are caused not by brute force, but by people inside the company. Without knowing, they can share client and company data, so developing cyber literacy should be an essential part of their training. Although basic, these practices can help you avoid a great deal of trouble: 

  • Instruct your employees not to leave login information in plain sight, such as on post-its around the office or in unprotected text files left on the desktop 
  • Teach them how to create secure passwords and how often to change them 
  • Suspicious attachments from unknown senders should never be opened or downloaded 
  • Employees should spot the red flags of a suspicious link, phishing email, or ad 
  • Employees should only install authorized software on company devices 
  • Sensitive information such as credit card numbers or social security numbers should never be passed over the phone 

A security expert can be an essential asset to your company 

One of the biggest mistakes managers make is waiting for their business to be hacked to hire a security expert. Why? Well, because by the time you’ve discovered the breach, it’s already too late. The thing about hackers is that they’re very adaptable and they learn fast how to bypass firewalls and other security systems. 

But don’t worry, hackers aren’t undetectable or invincible. You just have to stay one step ahead and have someone monitor your systems just in case. For example, you can work with an ethical hacker. Government organizations and big companies do this all the time to find weak spots in their security systems and take measures before it’s too late. Ethical hackers have CEH V10 training, are up to date with the latest security threats, and can safeguard your business against attacks that target all devices. 

Here are some other things that a security expert or certified ethical hacker can do: 

  • Conduct regular audits of your security systems, identify weaknesses and make sure your anti-malware software is up to date 
  • Stay up to date with the latest security threats 
  • Protect your data in the cloud and encrypt your business data 
  • Install new security software when the old one becomes outdated 
  • In the event of a data breach, they can mitigate the impact as soon as possible so that you don’t suffer huge losses 

If you already have a security expert in your department, encouraging them to complete CEH V10 training will help them broaden their knowledge even more and protect your data from anyone who might try to access it. 

Pay attention to Wi-Fi and hardware security 

Did you know that failing to secure your Wi-Fi network and hardware systems makes you an easy target? Taking a few extra steps when setting everything up not only boosts security but also discourages hackers from trying anything. 

For example, when you’re setting up the router, don’t leave it in an open space where everyone can go and look at the password on the back. And by no means should you keep the default router login information because it’s like an open invitation for hackers to come in. If possible, you should create a public network for clients, and a private one, for employees, and you can limit the number of devices that can connect to the same network. 

As far as hardware goes, all company devices should be kept in secure areas and you should install security cameras and surveillance systems to discourage thieves from stealing them. It’s the same as with your home alarm: if a burglar sees you have a camera they don’t want to risk anything so they’ll move on. Hackers, like burglars, prefer easy targets, and the more extra measures you take against them, the better. 

All company devices should be password-secured and, where available, set-up two-step authentications for all platforms you signed up for. If more than one person uses a company device, make sure you keep a record of who accesses it and where and, should a device get lost or stolen, you should be able to remote wipe it. 

Cybercrime is an inevitable consequence of businesses going digital. Almost all companies rely on the Internet nowadays so the risk of a data breach will always be there. Ransomware, DDoS attacks, and ransomware are all on the rise and as soon as we create a security system, a hacker gets to work and learns how to get around it. We can’t stop cybercrime altogether; in fact, experts expect the number of data breaches to increase. However, by being cautious and investing in preventive measures, you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim and help your business thrive in the digital marketplace.