Businesses can no longer afford to set and forget when it comes to cyber security. With hackers becoming increasingly sophisticated and skilled at infiltrating IT systems, companies need to take a proactive approach to prevent, identify and thwart expensive data security breaches.
A failure to stay up to date with the latest threats, implement best-practice security and ensure your employees know how to identify potential threats, could cost your business millions of dollars.
The Cost of Set and Forget Cyber Security
According to the Australian Cyber Security Centre, cybercrime costs Australian businesses an estimated $29 billion per year.
Many small to medium businesses falsely believe only larger organisations need to be concerned by the threat of cybersecurity. According to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), small business is the target of 43% of all cybercrimes. Unfortunately, 33% of companies with fewer than 100 employees don’t take precautionary measures against cybersecurity breaches.
Alarmingly, 22% of Australian small businesses breached by a 2017 Ransomware attack were so affected they had to cease operating. But even if your business survives a cybersecurity attack, the costs can still be crippling.
1. The Cost of Downtime
Consider the business impact if you unexpectedly lose access to your critical business systems and the data they contain – even if it’s only for a few days. Ransomware attacks are specifically designed to do just this. They infect your systems and servers, encrypting your data and demanding a hefty ‘ransom’ to unlock them again. Once you have paid the ransom, there is no guarantee they will release your data.
2. The Cost of Recovery
Typically, the costs of recovery after an attack include:
- The cost of the investigation.
- The cost of systems restoration.
- Customer notification.
Restoring systems can take hours or days, and often the results can be incomplete. Australia’s stringent privacy laws require businesses with a turnover in excess of $3million per year to formally notify their customers of any serious data breaches. Not only will this cost you time and money, but it may also cost you credibility and customers.
3. The Cost of Data Loss
Customer information is often the most valuable data a business has and can be on-sold by cybercriminals for profit. Not only will the loss of this data heavily impact your business. Suppose it is proven you have not taken ‘sufficient measures’ to safeguard your data. In that case, you can be penalised up to $2.1million for a serious or repeated breach.
4. The Cost of Reputation
Goodwill and business reputation are also valuable assets for many businesses. If you acquire a name for data breaches, it may be a long and expensive road to rebuilding customer trust.
A successful cyber-attack can have potentially devastating implications for your business. The reality is cybercrime affects everybody, so it’s critical companies big and small proactively maintain and manage effective cybersecurity practices.
How To Protect Your Business
Despite 87% of small businesses believing their business is safe from cyberattacks because they use antivirus software alone, adequate cyber protection requires a dedicated, proactive and multifaceted approach.
Key Cyber Security Measures to Implement In Your Business
There’s no such thing as set and forget when it comes to online security. Real-time monitoring and regular audits are two of the most effective ways to identify threats before they occur. Round the clock monitoring and annual security, audits are recommended; it’s easier to spot a potential risk than deal with the implications of an actual attack.
Train Your Employees
Even the most robust security systems in the world can be penetrated if the end-user is ignorant of basic data security practices. Up to 90% of threats will arrive via email, so you must train your staff to recognise and manage a malicious email. Regular cybersecurity training, phishing tests, social engineering verification and even data breach emergency drills are great ways to build a security culture in your business.
Implement Two Factor Authentication
Your business should have transparent, defined processes for authenticating and authorising system users. At a minimum, consider protecting sensitive data with two-factor authentication. And lockdown roles and permissions so users can only access data relevant to their day-to-day activities.
Invest in a VPN
With so many employees working remotely or on the road, it’s critical to protect your business from outside the office. Whilst public wifi networks can be convenient, they also pose an enormous security threat. A secure Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a critical security measure which can keep your employees protected anywhere. Implement strong remote cyber security practices and ensure your employees who work remotely or are permitted to use hardware outside the office use only a VPN to access systems.
Secure Printers and Mobile Devices
Many businesses would be shocked to learn that unsecured printers and mobile devices can be the easiest way to access your business data. To maintain mobile device security, create and communicate clear company policies and processes for use including a laptop security policy and only grant permission for corporate files, emails and other sensitive information. For printers, implement smart print solutions which only allow printing when a user is at the device.
Understand Cloud Technology
While cloud technology has revolutionised how we do business and store data, offering benefits including cost savings and access to the latest technology, security risks need to be considered. It’s important you understand how sensitive data will be stored and how your chosen vendor has implemented their services.
Improve Your Firewall
A strong firewall is your first line of defence against most cyber-attacks. A robust firewall will analyse all traffic entering and leaving your business network and evaluate and block potential threats based on the defined network rules. Again, firewalls cannot be considered a ‘set and forget’ tool. They must be regularly maintained and updated to operate effectively.
Invest in Good Security
Consider increasing the amount you dedicate to your annual cyber security budget and start thinking of it as an investment rather than an expense. Best practice security and regular checks can help identify areas of improvement, and alert you to the need for critical patches.
Partner with an Expert IT Company
For small to medium businesses who have a limited or no IT team, partnering with a professional IT company will help ensure you have best-practice IT security systems and processes in place and reduce the risk of an expensive cyber attack.
Consider engaging a trusted IT company like Surety IT conduct a security audit to identify current shortcomings in your business, and help you develop and implement an effective cyber security strategy.