Over the last few decades, the way we use technology has changed almost every aspect of our lives. Businesses have adopted new ways of interacting with their clients and customers and data is now stored digitally rather than in physical records.
Where once businesses were concerned about physical thefts and the potential to lose stock to those with nefarious goals, the technological revolution has changed the way we think of threats to companies. For many, the key concerns involve the potential for cyber crime and the responsibility to guard against the potential for their data to be compromised.
As these changes have come about, new legislation has been introduced to protect businesses and their customers from the potential to have their personal information compromised. This means that businesses are obliged to have at least some measures in place to protect their information storage systems in order to comply with the cybersecurity standardsin place in their jurisdiction.
There are many forms of cyber crime, ranging from harvesting data to use in spam marketing campaigns to stealing intellectual property that could bankrupt a business. Some organisations are at a higher risk of one type of attack than others, but all organisations that handle data need to be aware of the potential threats that could impact their operational success.
Businesses need to be proactive when it comes to preventing their information and systems from being breached and take appropriate measures to ensure that they minimise the risks wherever possible. This can involve everything from changes to their infrastructure to staff training, and may involve a multi-pronged approach to cover as many different angles as possible.
There are several different types of cyber crime that can be tackled in various different ways, including:
Some hackers use viruses to install spyware on their victims’ systems to log their keystrokes and provide criminals with details of their passwords, system log-ins and other sensitive data. This can then be used to gain access to secure areas of their systems, so it’s important to guard against unwanted programmes ever being installed in the first place.
While there is plenty of free anti-virus software available, paid versions tend to offer more features and a higher standard of protection. Firewalls can also be used to protect a company’s software systems from remote attacks from cyber criminals, with options for installation on individual devices as well as entire networks.
Antivirus software and firewalls make for an effective first line of defence against cyber crime and a cloud VPN alternative for businesscan also limit the risks of using wifi as well. A VPN, or virtual private network, uses algorithms to encrypt the information that’s transmitted across a wifi network to make it impossible for anyone else to read or understand it.
Protective software should be installed on all devices, including computers, mobile phones and anything else that connects to the network.
One of the most effective ways to guard against cyber crime is to ensure that staff members have a comprehensive understanding of their role in crime prevention. Some of the things that they can do include:
- Choosing strong passwords and changing them regularly
- Recognising and reporting suspicious emails
- Being able to identify threats in the form of downloads, links and spoof websites
- A clear and unambiguous policy on the sharing of sensitive information
- Strict rules about connecting personal devices to the company network
- A swift and effective reporting system for concerns or threats
By offering regularly updated training, companies can ensure that their employees play an active role in protecting their businesses from cyber attacks. It should cover everything from social engineering and what a suspicious social media overture might look like, to the potential for an unexplained system error to indicate a bigger issue.
With more and more organisations making the most of the potential for remote working, there are more employees than ever accessing corporate systems from home or other external locations. While this can be a huge benefit to a business, it is not without risk so companies need to ensure that they implement proper security policies including device enrolment, authentication settings, data leakage protection, and restrictions on the functions that can be used such as cameras and browsers.
These measures are used to ensure that all devices are used in a way that minimises the risk of exposure to cyber attacks.
Some policies limit the number of devices a single user can enrol, others have minimum OS requirements, and there may be specific password requirements for individual devices.
There are some other things that all businesses should be doing regularly to maintain the stability of their business that could also reduce the risks of cyber attacks. Regular backups mean that there is less potential for loss of data as a result of cyber attacks as well as being a useful tool to avoid downtime in the case of natural disasters such as severe weather events or earthquakes.
Strong security systems can prevent attacks from taking place altogether as hackers are unable to find a point of entry into systems that are well-protected. Organisations that take preventative measures are much less likely to suffer even if an attack is partially successful as they will be able to restore any data that is lost and identify threats before they become problematic.