Companies of all sizes should be more proactive with their digital security measures in this increasingly digital world. Most of the cyberattacks that make the news are large in scale; however, this doesn’t mean that smaller businesses aren’t vulnerable at all.
As a matter of fact, small businesses are at a higher risk of cyberattacks due to the lack of sound digital security strategies.
According to the 2018 Hiscox Cyber Risk Report, 47% of small businesses experienced a cyberattack in the previous year. About 44% of them suffered at least two attacks, while 8% had over five. Despite all the data invasions, around two-thirds of the companies didn’t do anything about it.
Here, we delve into the biggest digital security challenges companies are facing this year. We also cover some security practices for reinforcing your IT systems.
The Biggest Digital Security Challenges
Around two million digital security attacks worldwide cost companies over $45 billion in losses last year. Certainly, monetary damages can make a big dent in our finances if we suffer from an attack. However, that’s not the only problem we have to face.
Data breaches can tarnish our brand’s reputation with consumers, making it harder for us to earn back the trust of our audience.
Below, we made a list of the most common causes of data breaches to help you understand what you’re up against:
Malicious software come in a range of forms—spyware, viruses, ransomware, and worms, to name a few. They are often introduced through email attachments or dangerous links.
If an employee clicks on a seemingly harmless link, malicious software can be installed on the computer. Depending on the malware, it can carry out different kinds of nefarious activities on your system.
Once your security is breached, the malware can install additional harmful software, restrict access to fundamental areas of the network, covertly steal information, or render your entire system inoperable.
2. Password attacks
Using sophisticated software, hackers would often attempt to break into a computer system or network by cracking an employee’s password. Their software enables them to crack a password based on personal information that was fed by the hacker.
3. Denial-of-service attacks
A DoS attack prevents its targets from accessing websites, emails, and online channels on the affected computer. Hackers do this by flooding networks, systems, or servers with traffic, which overwhelms them and prevents them from fulfilling legitimate requests.
The financial, as well as reputational, damages that DoS attacks inflict are severe. To prevent a DoS attack, test your IT infrastructure regularly and refine your security measures.
4. Social engineering attacks
Hackers would conceal their identities or pose as other people for nefarious motives to manipulate employees into giving them privileged information.
Phishing is one of the more popular social engineering attacks. Posing as a reputable source, a hacker would send fraudulent communications to vulnerable parties, particularly those who they know aren’t well-versed in digital security practices.
For instance, a hacker might pretend to be the CEO to steal money from the accounts department. Many companies fall into this trap more often than you might think.
The Best Practices for Strengthening Your Company’s Digital Security
Cybercriminals become more creative in their attacks each year. Still, a great number of data breaches aren’t anything new. However, they continue to be lucrative due to the lack of proper security planning.
As a matter of fact, many of these data breaches can easily be prevented through basic, common-sense practices to digital security.
Whether big or small, every company should be more proactive in implementing cybersecurity practices to defend its corporate IT systems against these cyberattacks because, needless to say, the consequences can be disastrous.
Here, we cover a few practices to help you strengthen your IT security:
1. Empower your cybersecurity experts
Due to the growing number of attacks, not to mention their increased sophistication, cybersecurity experts are under a great deal of pressure. Today, we’re witnessing large employee turnover rates in the digital security scene primarily because of stress and burnout.
Research shows that skills shortage is making a negative impact on these workers’ well-being. Nearly 40% of cybersecurity experts point to skills shortage as the main cause of burnout and employee turnover.
To keep employee engagement up, give your security experts the resources they need to stay up to date with the latest trends. Invest in their career development. Send them to conferences and training workshops so that they can improve their skill set.
2. Educate your workforce
The IT team shouldn’t be solely responsible for ensuring your company’s digital security.
Even though a bulk of cyberattacks are easily preventable, they happen because employees aren’t fully aware of the risks of their online behavior. Our employees are our weakest link when it comes to cybersecurity. Thus, we’ve got to do something to change that.
As a matter of fact, human error causes 9 out of 10 data breaches that occur in the cloud. Such breaches mostly happen because of social engineering attacks that target the employees.
Thus, invest in trainings and seminars to educate your employees about cybersecurity threats, challenges, and practices.
3. Implement security policies
Set some rules. Create policies on which kinds of software can or can’t be downloaded on employee workstations. From browser extensions to applications, make a list of software that will require authorization from your IT experts.
Aside from establishing guidelines on creating robust passwords, your policies must also cover where passwords should and shouldn’t be saved. For instance, you can prohibit employees from writing passwords on notepads, whiteboards, emails, etc.
Make sure that every workstation has antivirus and antispam software, as well as a local firewall that’s set up properly. Encrypt and back up volumes where employees store data. Also, make sure every laptop that leaves the workplace is encrypted to minimize the risk of breaches.
As mentioned, educate your employees on company policies.
4. Use a two-step verification process
Another way to boost digital security is to implement a two-step verification process. First, employees will be asked to authenticate with their username and password. In the second step, they will have to reconfirm their identity.
Often, the second verification layer entails an RFID chip, a USB key, or a token. You can also use biometric data or geographic location for the second step.
Two-step verification makes it more challenging for hackers to breach employees’ accounts. In turn, it will significantly reduce the risks of certain cybersecurity attacks.
5. Limit devices authorized to connect to the internal network
Devices that don’t belong to the company may place the network at risk of malware and other potential attacks if connected.
Instead of connecting third-party devices to the network, set up a separate network with adequate security. Let guests connect there.
Creating an Organizational Design That Supports Digital Security
Even the most resilient organizations often fall victim to cyberattacks. For any organization, the financial and reputational repercussions can be quite devastating.
In the digital era, businesses must implement an organizational design that promotes a sustainable cybersecurity culture in the workplace. In doing so, we can invest in the career development of our security experts and educate the rest of our teams on cybersecurity practices.