Business Development Associate for Wisetek
In today’s modern age almost every business is dependent on the internet and information technology to accomplish a variety of daily operational tasks. From emails to e-commerce and e-banking, sensitive business activities are conducted via the internet. While the internet has undoubtedly made it easier for businesses of all shapes and sizes to operate, it has also made it easier for cybercriminals to gain access to confidential information and systems.
Many entrepreneurs and companies falsely believe that cybercriminals only target large companies. The fact is that cybercrime across all businesses is on the rise — and cybercriminals are not particularly picky about who or what they target. Ransomware attacks are amongst the many tactics that cybercriminals use most often, and these attacks can have devastating consequences for companies. The first steps to safeguarding your business against cybercrimes and fraud is to understand that every business is at risk and to take this risk seriously.
There are a few simple practices that you can implement in your business to lower the risk of becoming another cybercrime statistic. These practices include:
Underscore that cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility
We often think of cybersecurity as the responsibility of the IT department, but the truth is that cybersecurity is everyone’s business. Make sure that teams are trained to identify possible signs of a hacking attempt as not all cybercrimes are complicated plots. In many cases, something as simple as a misspelled email address can open the door for a cybercriminal to gain access to your systems. Having regular meetings or workshops on the topic of cybersecurity can equip team members with the basic skills that they need to identify and avoid common cybercrime risks.
Protect data by encrypting it
Data is one of the most valuable assets that a business can have and protecting it is the ultimate goal of every IT security plan. One of the best ways in which data can be protected is by encrypting it. While encrypted data can still be stolen by a hacker, the data is rendered useless because it cannot be read by cybercriminals. The best-case scenario is always preventing criminals from gaining access to data in the first place, but if a cybercriminal should gain access to data, encryption provides a secondary layer of protection.
Selectively store data
In the past, companies tended to collect and store as much data on their customers as they possibly could. The problem with this approach is that it might lead to the collection of unnecessary, and confidential, data. For example, storing the credit card details or birth date of a customer unless it is absolutely needed does not make much sense. It is important to regularly go through data stores and take inventory of what is needed and what can be securely destroyed through data destruction. The less data you hold, the lower the risk of being hacked becomes. In addition to this, legislation such as GDPR clearly states that data may only be held for a specific purpose. By clearing your servers of unnecessary data, you also reduce the possibility of not complying with data privacy laws.
Use artificial intelligence to your advantage
Artificial intelligence (AI) can be a powerful tool in the fight to secure your data. More sophisticated cyberattacks are not always readily detectable by humans and a little help from AI-powered technology goes a long way towards keeping your data safe. AI represents the next level in data security, and it is something that no business should be without. Make sure that your anti-virus, anti-malware and firewall service providers use AI in their products to ensure that attempted cyberattacks are detected before they can cause problems.
Invest in cybersecurity
While keeping tabs on costs is a key task in any business, there are some areas in which you should not skimp — and cybersecurity is one of those areas. Make sure that you invest in the best possible digital security products that you can afford and hire the best digital security experts that you can find to keep an eye on things. Investing in proper cybersecurity tools today can save you from significant financial losses later down the line. Many cybersecurity products are available — such as subscription-based products — which may reduce the cost for smaller companies. However, it is important to remember that your cybersecurity begins and ends with your team, so investing in good staff and training is one of the best ways to keep your data safe.
Cybersecurity is already a worldwide problem and it is only going to evolve with time. With this in mind, every business should work towards improving their cybersecurity and develop policies to protect their data, and educate employees on the risks of cybercrime and how to avoid becoming victims.
SOURCE: ACFE Insights – A Publication of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners