Cybercrime is one of the biggest threats facing US businesses today, and the stats paint a worrying picture. Last year, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint centre received over 800,000 reports of online crime, up from around 350,000 in 2018. Such stats are consistent with global trends, with analysts noting a rise in both the frequency and sophistication of cyberthreats in recent years.
So, with the situation worsening, and the yearly losses incurred from cybercrime increasing year-on-year, what can businesses do to protect themselves from cyberthreats? The answer: a lot. The truth is, many small businesses struggle with cybersecurity, with a shocking 47% admitting they have no understanding of how to protect themselves against cyber-attacks. In this article, we’ll highlight the importance of cybersecurity, explore the main types of cyberthreat, and discuss some of the ways Ohio businesses can defend themselves by partnering with a cybersecurity-conscious IT support provider.
What is Cybersecurity?
Cybersecurity refers to technologies, processes, policies and practices that seek to mitigate online threats. Cyberthreats take a wide variety of forms, but most target network, applications and other digital assets with a view to causing disruption, stealing information or coercing users into compliance with nefarious demands. By developing an overarching cybersecurity strategy in your business, you protect your most vital information, safeguard the integrity and availability of your digital systems, and defend the interests of your valued customers and partners.
3 Cyberthreat Types All Ohio Businesses Should be Aware Of
From a risk management standpoint, there are 3 main categories of cyberthreats all business owners should seek to address. Let’s take a closer look at these and explore some of the ways you can manage the risks associated with each.
Social Engineering Attacks
Social engineering attacks use coercion and manipulation to compel IT users to comply with a specific set of instructions. Such attacks are often called “scams” rather than true cyber-attacks, as they are often non-technical, relying on nothing more than the art of deception.
Such attacks often see the scammers attempt to impersonate people, businesses or institutions likely to be trusted by the target. This trust is then exploited for malicious gain, as the hackers convince the victim to divulge sensitive information, make a payment to their account or initiate a download that injects malware onto their device.
Phishing is the most common form of social engineering attack, which leverages email as its delivery mechanism. While somewhat less common, social engineering attacks can also be conducted by text message (“smishing”) or even through phonecalls (“vishing”).
Countering the Threat of Social Engineering Attacks
As a first line of defense, businesses should work with their IT support teams to deploy email filtering technologies to intercept malicious inbound mail. These security devices inspect sender information, analyze email content for suspicious language and screen links and attachments for redirects to rogue websites and malware.
Security awareness training can also be beneficial for raising awareness of phishing and associated threats among staff. Armed with knowledge on how to spot social engineering attacks, staff will be less likely to fall foul of the scammers and their manipulative tactics.
Short for “malicious software,” malware is a broad term that applies to a wide range of harmful software programs used by hackers to damage, corrupt and exploit computer networks and devices. Viruses, worms, ransomware, spyware, trojans and bots are some of the most common forms of malware. These harmful programs often find their way onto IT networks through malicious email attachments, drive-by-downloads on compromised websites, by connecting infected removable storage media like USB drives, and through vulnerabilities in poorly maintained software.
Countering The Malware Threat
Businesses should have their IT support providers deploy anti-malware protection across all network-connected devices. These programs continuously scan for the the presence of malware using a library of known threat signatures. Once malicious code is detected, it’s then neutralized and removed from the system to prevent further harm.
A preventative maintenance regime should also be in place, to ensure all software programs and operating systems are running the latest security updates. This reduces the attack surface available to hackers by rectifying vulnerabilities in software systems before threat actors are able to exploit them for malware attacks.
A data breach is any security event in which sensitive information is exposed to an unauthorised individual or entity. This exposure may be accidental in nature, or the result of a persistent hacking attempt, and the incident may or may not involve the theft, misuse, corruption or deletion of the information in question.
Countering The Threat of Data Breaches
Businesses should work in close collaboration with their IT support teams to ensure that user privileges and access rights are tightly monitored and managed. Multi-factor authentication should be used across all devices and accounts to preclude unauthorized access to sensitive data, and data loss prevention tools and privacy safeguards like encryption should be used to classify sensitive information and prevent malicious “eavesdropping.”
A well-conceived cybersecurity strategy should contain technical, procedural and organizational measures for mitigating security threats, and should combine complementary technologies to provide multi-layered protection across devices, identities, applications and networks. By fostering awareness of these key threats and taking steps to counter them in your security framework, you’ll develop a strong security posture that protects your data, digital assets and people.
Why Cybersecurity Matters
Cybersecurity incidents can have profound consequences that extend far beyond the immediate losses and service disruption. Here’s why all Ohio businesses should make cybersecurity their #1 strategic priority.
It’s a Reputational Safeguard
High-profile cyber-attacks and data breaches make front-page news. While attacks on small businesses may not attract the same publicity, a data breach can damage a business’s reputation both locally and in its respective sector. By mitigating cyber risks, you safeguard your reputation, and help secure the long-term viability of your business.
It Helps Maintain Business Continuity
Cyber breaches can impair normal operations, leaving a business partially or completely unable to serve its clients. By prioritizing cybersecurity, you hardwire resilience into your operation, reduce the chances of successful cyber-attacks and enable your business to recover promptly from service disruption. This, in turn, preserves your reputation and safeguards vital revenue streams.
It Defends Your Customer Data
Your business likely holds a wealth of data on your valued customers. Ensuring the privacy, integrity and availability of this data is a key part of your duty of care to your customers, and is vital to maintaining their trust in the integrity and professionalism of your enterprise. Cybersecurity measures keep the bad actors away from this sensitive information, protecting the interests of your customers, and safeguarding these all-important trust-based relationships.
It Enhances Employee Productivity
Malware attacks can have an acute impact on network performance and leave critical systems unusable or severely compromised. By implementing a robust cybersecurity framework, you’ll minimize downtime and give staff access to dependable systems and infrastructure that foster productivity.
Avoid Financial Losses
From ransomware payouts and lost sales revenue, to legal fees and fines for non-compliance, the financial costs of cyber breaches can manifest in numerous ways. By investing in cybersecurity, you mitigate cyber risks and their associated financial losses.
Take the First Step: Start Building a Solid Cybersecurity Strategy Today
The field of cybersecurity is in a constant state of flux, with cybercriminals developing new capabilities all the time, and security professionals simultaneously developing tools to stay one step ahead of the bad actors. If you suspect your business’s cybersecurity measures may be lacking, start a conversation with your IT support provider today. They should be able to offer support, managed security services and best practice guidance to get you on track to a more secure and resilient IT infrastructure.
We’re Cyber Express – Exceptional IT Support, Cybersecurity and Technology Solutions for Ohio Businesses
From our home in Boardman, Cyber Express provides IT support, technology management, cybersecurity services and class-leading solutions to businesses across, Youngstown, Mahoning County and the wider region. Our approach to IT support ensures our clients enjoy a proactive, friendly and tailored service that addresses key challenges and delivers growth-enabling technology. Get in touch today, to discuss your IT support or computer repair needs. Our friendly team can’t wait to take your call.