Doing business would be limited without a wireless network that connects devices and allows people to interact. However, cybercriminals have also taken advantage of these platforms to gain unauthorized access to confidential data. They can steal your intellectual property, steal your customers’ identity, or ask for ransom in exchange for decryption keys. Notably, a successful cyberattack can taint the image of your business and cost you a lot of money. Cybersecurity efforts cannot guarantee your company 100% protection against cyberattacks. However, it can reduce the risks significantly.
Threats That Call for Cybersecurity
As its name suggests, cybercriminals use spyware to pick information from your device and gets into your computer when you click on random links or when you download attachments from unknown sources. Notably, spyware can stay on your computer for a long time and remain unnoticed. All this time, it will be relaying sensitive data to the cyber attacker. Then one day, when you least expect it, they will strike and wreak havoc in your organization.
The first step to every cyberattack is gaining access, which is often achieved through human error. For instance, a social engineer may leave a flash drive labeled “payroll” in the business premises. That can prey on any employee’s curiosity, and they may want to put the flash drive on their computer to see what it’s about. As soon as they insert it into their device, they will have introduced malware into the system. In ransomware, the criminals will encrypt all the crucial data and withhold access to it. After that, they will demand that you pay a huge amount of money to get a decryption key that will enable you to access the data.
Adware will fill your computer with many advertisements and make it difficult for anyone to do anything productive. It can also introduce the user to other viruses when they accidentally click on an ad. Notably, adware is a common form of a cybersecurity threat.
Malware uses software to access your computer without authorization to damage the system. Notably, there are many types of malware. Some malware can replicate themselves while others cannot. Others need host computing while others don’t. Some are malicious, while others only want to access and destroy your files.
- Trojan Horse Attack
Human interaction is critical in facilitating Trojan horse attacks. The cyber attacker usually sends an attractive file in the form of an image, video file, audio file, messages, or email. It works by manipulating and tempting you to break the standard security procedures to open the file. Remember that opening the file activates a malware that will access and destroy the critical data in your computer. Therefore, organizations need to conduct regular training to keep employees aware of all possible cyber threats.
Phishing emails work by instilling false trust in people. Notably, the email address of the sender usually resembles that of reputable entities like banks, companies that serve you, family members, or friends you trust. The cybercriminal will also create some sense of urgency and ask you to provide personal information. After that, they will use the data to commit crimes in your name. Cybersecurity training can help prevent phishing attacks because it will educate employees against opening suspicious emails.
How Cybersecurity Works
- By creating the first line of defense
Using default passwords, reusing passwords in different platforms, and using weak passwords; make it easier for cybercriminals to access your confidential data and use it to their advantage. Notably, cyber attackers have tools that allow them to crack through weak passwords. Once they gain access to your email account, it becomes much easier to reset passwords for all other accounts that you use online. However, cybersecurity involves taking the right initiatives to strengthen this first line of defense.
The Don’ts of Using Passwords
- Don’t use password hints
Remember that there are tons of information about you online. For instance, it won’t be difficult for a cybercriminal to find the name of the high school you went to or the name of your pet online. With this information, the cyber attacker will access your data without much struggle. Therefore, avoid using password hints because they can give you away so easily.
- Avoid passwords containing your date of birth
Information about your date of birth is probably available online. Therefore, using it as a password makes it easier for cybercriminals to guess it. Cybersecurity requires that you use a complicated password that doesn’t contain any of your personal information.
- Don’t save passwords in browsers
A lot of people save their passwords in their browsers because it makes it easier for them to remember. However, this is not safe because hackers target browsers as well. So, as convenient as it seems, avoid saving your passwords in the browser.
- Don’t save your passwords in spreadsheets
Text files like spreadsheets are unprotected documents that cybercriminals can easily access, steal, and delete. Therefore, saving your passwords in them is not a safe alternative.
Characteristics of Robust Passwords
- Enables the two-factor authentication
Agreeably, enabling two-factor authentication can be a hassle. However, your efforts will be absolutely worth it because it will keep cyber criminals away from confidential data. Two-factor authentication adds one more step in the process of accessing accounts. For instance, a code will be sent to your phone after typing the right password, and you will need to enter it before access is granted. Therefore, a hacker may not access your valuable data without your smartphone.
None of your accounts should have a replicated password. That is because using the same password for all your accounts makes it easier for a cybercriminal to access them all. But if none of your accounts share the same password, it may be easier for you to recover the hacked account through the unhacked accounts.
Predictable passwords like words found in the dictionary can be easy to guess. Notably, the words may seem familiar but aren’t secure options. Consider using gibberish passwords that don’t exist in any dictionary, and your accounts will be safer.
Did you know that the longer the password, the harder it is to crack? A cyber-secure password should be between 10 and 15 words, and anything less than ten words is considered weak. Notably, you can incorporate numbers, words, and symbols in the password to make it longer and harder to crack.
- By creating an alternative back-up
One of the best practices in cybersecurity is creating a separate back-up of all vital information. That ensures that you do not lose any valuable data in case your device is compromised, lost, or stolen. Notably, the copy should be in a separate external hard drive, which is not connected to any device. So, in the event of a breach, it will be much easier to recover lost information by retrieving the backed up data.
Agreeably, a cyberattack can bring about disruptions and annoyance. However, if you have back-up, and a functional disaster recovery system, you will not have to pay any ransom to the hackers. Unfortunately, almost half of the businesses in the US have to pay cyber attackers to access their encrypted data.
- By securing your wireless networks
Do you use a wireless network at home or in your business? Did you know that cybercriminals can hijack wireless networks and steal private information? Therefore, it is essential to secure your Wi-Fi with a strong password. Additionally, your wireless network will be safer if it does not broadcast the SSID. And you can hide it by setting up a wireless access point or router. Make sure that your wireless network should be hidden, secure, and encrypted to limit access by unauthorized persons.
- By providing cybersecurity education and training
Human error is responsible for many successful cyberattacks. Cybersecurity requires that all members of staff know and emulate the basic security best practices. If your employees lack proper training, they can easily introduce malware to your network. For instance, they need to refrain from:
- Opening suspicious emails from unknown senders
- Opening attachments from unknown sources
- Inserting devices like random flash drives
Notably, security training should be brief and engaging and should be conducted regularly. With time, these security practices become habitual and can be incorporated into the culture of the organization.
Also, consider recruiting and training ambassadors from outside the IT department to help motivate their peers. They should be individuals that are excited about security practices and can motivate their workmates to pick up the concepts.
Benefits of Cybersecurity Training
- Increases security
Training makes your entire team aware of existing cyber threats. That will make them extra keen to avoid making mistakes that will compromise the safety of the organization’s systems. An uninformed workforce can make mistakes that can mess up things in your network. But a breach is less likely to happen if you have well-educated staff who are taking similar security measures.
- Saves time and money
It costs a company $15.4 million to recover from a single attack in the US. Therefore, the investment in cybersecurity training is worth it if it prevents even a single attack. Also, think of the time that the business could spend repairing the damage and plugging the holes after a cyberattack. That time could be spent doing productive activities to earn the company more revenue.
- Empowers your workforce
Confidence is vital in the fight against cybercrime. For instance, you want your staff to send phishing emails straight to the trash bin; without second-guessing. Training equips employees with confidence and awareness to act right in whatever situation. Also, they won’t have to waste time waiting to inquire about fundamental issues with the IT person or spend time pondering about the right action to take. Instead, they will go about their day, prepared to tackle any occurrence and threats by themselves. Importantly, the knowledge will significantly reduce the risk of human error, which is associated with most breaches.
- Retains customers’ trust
A cyberattack ruins business credibility to both its customers and partners. Notably, a quick, simple mistake can destroy the trust that people had in an organization. So, it is always safer to take security measures that will prevent avoidable errors. Training is critical in supporting the robust infrastructure that is already in place.
- By frequently scanning for malware
Did you know that the latest updates of anti-virus software usually contains the most advanced measures to counter the most recent threats in cybercrime? Therefore, make sure that your anti-virus is updated at all times. Failure to scan your computer frequently, also allows intruders to access your network and remain there undetected. So, remember to safeguard your valuable data checking for malware as often as possible.
- By identifying the threats
Cybercriminals are very strategic in their activities and will target information that can give them great value. Therefore, businesses must analyze the nature of their actions before deciding on strategic measures to take in cybersecurity. Notably, the business chain that gives you the most revenue is at most risk. So, as you allocate resources into cybersecurity, you need to assign more on the risky sectors of your business. Additionally, limit access to such data to ensure that unauthorized individuals cannot access it.
- By getting insured
Cybercrime insurance covers your business against the risks of viruses and hackers. It is a good investment because it can help you recover fast in case you fall victim to the tricks of cybercriminals. Remember that no strategy can protect you 100% from cybercrimes. However, cybercrime insurance ensures that you are covered, and the financial implications that come with successful hacking are bearable. Additionally, you will get an estimate of your company’s level of risk and the value of the damage you are likely to suffer as a victim of cybercrime.
- By being aware of cybercrimes
Cybersecurity works more effectively when people act like they are expecting a cyberattack at all times. An organization that is continually making plans and laying out strategies is in a better position to handle cyber threats. Note that regular risk assessments ensure that your security measures are practical and relevant to your business.
- By ensuring a strong sign-off policy
An active sign-off policy requires employees to return mobile devices and laptops before leaving the workplace. Notably, if these devices are used in unsecured networks outside the office premises, the security of your systems can be compromised. Public Wi-Fi, for instance, is very risky because cybercriminals can hack data that are being exchanged over it. Another risk is an employee forgetting the device in public transport, and your sensitive information falls in the wrong hands.
You must have taken extraordinary measures to secure your Wi-Fi by probably hiding it and using a robust password. So, you don’t want to compromise and allow your devices to be used in places that are not too keen on cybersecurity.
Benefits of a Working Cybersecurity System
- Inspires confidence in the customers
Can you prove to your customers that your business is taking proactive measures to protect itself from cyber threats? The statistics on stolen identity resulting from cyberattacks has been on the rise lately. Study shows that 40% of online shoppers will stop doing business with you if they have doubts about the security of your website. Imagine the magnitude of conversion rates that you stand to lose if people don’t trust your cybersecurity. And in an era where consumers are more aware and savvier about their privacy, cybersecurity should be a big deal for any business.
If you can inspire trust in the people you do business with; they will have more confidence in paying for your goods and services. It is also worth noting that privacy and cybersecurity can be a selling point in an online business. That explains why trusted companies like PayPal are now helping businesses win the trust of their customers. For instance, they offer verified logos like return shipping guarantee seals and credit banners.
- Improves SEO ranking
Use experience is critical for any business that wishes to rank high in search engine optimization. Google knows too well that allowing untrusted merchants to list on its search engine can ruin their brand. Thus, one of the SEO ranking factors for Google is HyperText Transfer Protocol Security (HTTPS). It works by encrypting sensitive information like usernames, passwords, and credit card details. That ensures that these data are secure while it’s being processed on the website.
Remember that browsers like Chrome warn its users whenever they visit sites that don’t use HTTPS. For instance, it will remind them of the risks of using that site and advise them not to transact on the website. Imagine the number off conversions that you stand to lose out on if you haven’t implemented cybersecurity measures on your company’s website. Note that third party vendors and hosting service providers offer SSL certificates, which can be used to implement the HTTPS.
- Supports your IT experts
You will find that a cybercriminal is more experienced in digital crime than your average IT employee. However, with proper cybersecurity systems, your IT team will be better equipped against cyberattacks. The right support and features will help them counter even the most experienced and determined hackers.
- Protects your bank balance
A successful cyberattack can cost any business a lot of money. While some of the financial implications can be felt immediately, some come in a bit later. Initially, you will need money first to remedy the situation. If you have an IT team, it might be easier. But if you are a small business that doesn’t have an IT professional in the payroll yet, you may have to outsource the services.
Additionally, you will have to spend more money to investigate the breach. You will also have to work on preventive solutions, test them, and after that, deploy it. Keep in mind that all these tasks have significant financial implications.
And if your clients’ money or loyalty points were stolen in the breach, you may be forced to refund them. It may be a requirement of a lawsuit or a moral responsibility of your business. Don’t forget the number of potential customers your business will lose after the tainted reputation. So the best way to safeguard your bank balance is to invest in robust cybersecurity systems.
- Provides a consolidated solution
Excellent cybersecurity addresses a wide variety of issues. For instance, it could cover online content filtration, wireless security, anti-spam, anti-virus, and a firewall. Notably, hackers use different approaches and different platforms to attack their victims. But a layered security system creates defense from a variety of angles.
- Prevents adware
A virus that fills your computers with advertisements can slow down your productivity and that of your employees. It is worth noting that adware is quite common and can allow other viruses into your devices. For instance, if someone in the organization clicks on it accidentally, your systems can get infected with malware. But if you have your cybersecurity systems up and running, no virus or malware can penetrate through it.
- Denies spyware
Cybercriminals use spyware to spy on you and relay the information back to themselves. That can compromise the privacy of the data in your company’s custody. Additionally, hackers can use sensitive information to commit other crimes like stealing the identities of your customers and employees. Others can encrypt the data and demand a ransom in exchange for a decryption key. If you don’t have a back-up of the data, you may have to part with a lot of money. However, with a firewall in place, your information can remain private, and spyware cannot work on your system.
- Prevents your website from going down
If your system is infected with malware, your website will probably go down with it. For instance, a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack can deny legitimate users access to your website. And if your customers can’t find you on your website, they are highly likely to lose their trust in your business. Additionally, your business might lose a lot of money in missed transactions.
Modern cybersecurity contains features that can minimize the possibilities of DDoS attacks. Thus, it saves you from all the trouble that comes with a successful cyberattack.
- Protects productivity
A computer infected with a virus is practically impossible to work on and produce results. That is because the processor becomes extremely slow, and employees take more time to do their tasks. It can bring business to a standstill and impair daily activities. You probably know that time wasted equals money lost. So, the best way to safeguard your company’s productivity is by investing in cybersecurity. That means that your system will not be vulnerable to malware, which can make it difficult for you and your employees to work smoothly.
- Allows employees to work safely
Lack of effective cybersecurity solutions puts you and your employees at risk of a cyberattack. Additionally, employees perform much better, knowing that the systems protect them from cybercriminals. Besides, constant phishing emails and adware can be a significant distraction to members of staff. So, allow your employees to work in peace by ensuring that your cybersecurity is designed for the unique operations of your business.
- Protects personal information
Personal information is precious in this digital age. For that reason, businesses are doing everything to protect it, while cybercriminals are employing all manner of tactics to acquire it illegally. Unfortunately, the reputation of every company hangs on its ability to protect the information in its custody. Cyber attackers, on the other hand, thrive on an ability to access and use the information to steal money or sell the data. However, cybersecurity is the only sure way to prevent the entry of viruses that allows criminals to obtain private information about your business, your employees, and your customers.
- Prevents the death of your start-up
Did you know that as of 2018, the average cost of data breach stood at $3.86 million? Additionally, 60% of start-ups stop operating six months after a violation. Also, note that stolen records and downtimes are not the only issues encountered after a cyberattack. The business stands to lose customers’ trust if the breach involves their sensitive data. You may have invested a lot of resources in building your clients’ trust, but a single incident can bring it all down.
Businesses can ensure post-cyberattack survival by investing in a little planning and the right security measures. For example, you can stay safe from the risk of losing all your data if you establish a frequent back-up routine in the organization. So, if a cyber-attack manages to penetrate through your defenses, you can restore operations immediately. You also have the option of backing up your data locally or using cloud storage services.
Cybersecurity works by protecting your money, your data, and your reputation. The threats in the digital world are immense, which makes cybersecurity a necessity while doing business. Businesses that have gone the extra mile, and invested in effective and strategic cybersecurity now have a competitive advantage. Notably, privacy and cybersecurity are increasingly becoming a selling point in online transactions.