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Posted 01.03.19

Why maintaining cyber security is critical for your business

Technology has become a crucial aspect of the modern workplace. From emails to collaborative documents, almost all types of businesses rely on tech to remain efficient and productive. But, what happens when you compromise your business’ cyber security?

If you don’t handle a security breach swiftly and carefully, it could have a disastrous effect on your business.

One of the most high profile cyber attacks involved telecoms giants, TalkTalk, who had its personal data hacked in 2015. Its security failings resulted in a record fine of £400,000. Three Mobile was also victim to a cyber attack which saw more than 200,000 people’s information exposed.

However, it’s not just big businesses that need to worry about cyber security. Firms of any size are at risk of a cyber security attack. Last year, SME Boomerang Video was fined £60,000 for being vulnerable to hack attacks, while software company PCA Predict has also fallen victim to cyber attacks in recent years.

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg, but they also emphasise the need for you to ensure your business is protected against malicious attacks by deploying strong security.

Get to know today’s cyber security threats

Nearly half (43%) of all UK businesses have reported cyber security breaches or attacks in the last 12 months. The impact of these breaches could be lost files, software, system or website corruption, and even loss of assets or intellectual property.

The most common threats include scammers impersonating a business, the sending of fraudulent emails, as well as viruses and malware. In reality however, one of the biggest risks any organisation has is human error.

As well as the physical impact on your business, the average financial impact for businesses could be in the region of £3,000. This cost would have a huge effect on a small business’ revenue and cash flow.

The rollout of GDPR also means businesses must report any breaches to the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office). As a result, fines have dramatically increased. The average cost of data breaches could rise even further in the coming years. The ICO will even able to stop a business from processing data at all.

Protecting against data leaks

One of the biggest threats to a business’ cyber security is data leaks. Your business probably holds a lot of data, often sensitive, whether that’s customer insight to employee information. If you don’t take steps to protect your company’s data, it can easily be compromised.

Limiting the amount of personal information and data your business holds is the best way to protect against leaks. Businesses should not collect more data than they need.

A further option to limit exposure is to set up a ‘burner email’. A ‘burner email’ is essentially a dummy email account that you can use for websites you don’t want to provide real email addresses to. Don’t worry about missing an email, as replies can be automatically forwarded on to the real email address. Using this method can provide you with the confidence that your email details are not being shared.

If you’re concerned an email account may have been compromised, you can use ‘Have I been Pwned’. This online tool allows users to search across multiple data breaches to see if an email address has been put at risk.

Ransomware protection

Ransomware is another cyber security threat to your business. This is a type of malware that encrypts your business’ data and is only unlockable in exchange for a large fee. With a rise in the use of cloud services for storing data, these types of cyber attacks have also risen in prominence.

More and more often, businesses are opting to store their data in the cloud because they believe it is safer and more secure than a computer’s hard drive. However, this isn’t necessarily true.

You should ensure that you back up valuable data in multiple places – on the cloud but also locally and on a portable hard drive – to protect against ransomware attacks.

While malicious software is constantly developing, security software is adapting to cope with these threats too. That’s why it’s so important that you keep your antivirus software updated at all times.

A common misconception is that all antivirus software can cope with ransomware. It’s important that you invest in specific ransomware protection software that can adequately protect against a cyber attack. One option is the Intercept X by Sophos which uses deep learning malware detection to safeguard against the widest range of attacks. It can also support your existing security or antivirus software!

Advanced social engineering tactics

In the 1970s, John Draper created the infamous Blue Box to hack telephone systems, known as ‘phone freaking’. This signals the origins of phishing. However, while technology has advanced, so too have the methods of phishing.

Phishing is the process of fraudulently attempting to gain an individual’s information, from accessing emails through to banking accounts.

Criminals no longer need to be involved in the process of phishing but can actually automate these attacks now, thanks to the rise of artificial intelligence.

The impact of cyber crime on your business

Failing to focus on cyber security can result in damage to your business. Financially, the cost could be theft of corporate information, disruption to trading or having to repair affected systems. Not to mention the physical impact, with the potential for cyber security breaches to cause serious reputational damage. If customers don’t trust that their data is safe with you, they’ll venture elsewhere.

Aside from the direct impacts of a cyber security breach, there are also legal consequences. Failure to manage a customer’s personal information can result in regulatory sanctions, irrelevant of who is at fault – management or employee.

Every employee in your business must remain up to date on the latest cyber security threats and the best ways to protect data. Regularly training staff and ensuring robust guidelines are in place is key.

Now is the time for your business to take action against potential cyber security breaches.

Protect your business with our free Security Essentials Audit. This includes a review of your IT systems, a comprehensive report of your current level of security and recommendations for enhancing security.

Plus, we can help your business achieve The National Cyber Security Centre’s Cyber Essentials accreditation for your work towards cyber security protection.

Call 0161 605 3838 or email security@gbmdt.co.uk to arrange your free Security Essential Audit today.

Read more about how we can work with your business to provide tech solutions here.

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