Cyberattacks are a common occurrence than you might think. Businesses are always facing such threats. The growing threat of cyberattacks to a business is detrimental to its operations. Not only does it harm a company financially, but it can also put its reputation at risk. Whether you own a small business or a large corporation, the risk imposed by a cyberattack is the same. However, an article by Kapersky.com states that 60% of small businesses shut down after experiencing a cyberattack. The financial risk is higher for a small business than a large one since a small business has limited resources. With every passing year, the frequency of cyberattacks increases. The growing threat of cybersecurity for business means that companies are now investing in cybersecurity and risk mitigation.
What is cybersecurity for a business?
Cybersecurity is a broad term, which refers to security measures to prevent hackers from obtaining information and installing malware through digital means. For a business, cybersecurity refers to keeping data safe, ensuring smooth operations, and mitigating risks. Here is some perspective: organizations with more than 250 employees were at a greater risk of a cyberattack than small businesses. Despite this, CNBC reports that 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses, while only 14% of them take security measures. One thing is for sure: small businesses face the same financial risks as those faced by larger organizations.
Impact of a cyber attack on a business
A cyber threat poses several risks for a business—from affecting a business financially to putting its reputation on the line. These are explained in detail as follows:
According to Accenture, cybercrime puts $US 5.2 trillion at risk globally. Moreover, the financial impact of a cyberattack includes a reduction in spending on research and development, fines, litigation, loss of customers, etc. Another alarming thing is that banks face the highest risk of a cyberattack. Cybercriminals target banks for theft of funds of account holders. Software Escrow tools are helpful in combating this.
In addition to the data of an organization, customer data is also at risk in a cyberattack. Hackers may prevent authorized people from accessing data and ask for a ransom. Moreover, they can use data, such as credit card information, to steal money. In some cases, it can also lead to identity theft.
Damage to equipment
Often companies tend to overlook the impact of a cyberattack on physical entities, which inadvertently leads to financial losses. Cyberattacks can even cause irreparable damage to computers and other electronic equipment. Cyber attacks can impact multiple sectors. These include the power sector, oil and gas, manufacturing, and others, which incorporate industrial control systems (ICSs).
Damage to reputation
Loss of a user’s or client’s private data to a cybercriminal is hurtful to a company’s reputation since customers lose trust. It can cause irreparable damage that can set a business behind its competitors. Also, it prevents the influx of potential clients and customers. Depending on the country and region, a company may have to pay fines due to non-compliance with cybersecurity standards.
Common cyberattacks that businesses face
Investing in cybersecurity is essential for a business. A cyberattack can halt operations and lead to tremendous losses for a business. Hence, cybersecurity measures ensure efficient performance. Moreover, data protection is also an integral component of cybersecurity. Keeping your customer’s data safe is essential for a business to maintain its reputation. Many small- and medium-sized businesses underestimate the impact of a cyberattack. An article by the Tech Republic, published in 2019, reports that although 70% of companies experienced a phishing attempt, only about 38% of them took security measures. The same statistics also apply to government organizations, such as healthcare, law firms, and others. With each passing year, cybercriminals become more sophisticated in their attempts at breaching businesses. The most common cybersecurity threats in 2020 are as follows:
In phishing, hackers target people unawares. It involves gathering an individual’s or an organization’s personal and private data through spam email and other means. The hacker tricks a person into providing valuable information, such as name, credit card number, social security number, phone number, address, passwords, etc. The hacker also pretends to be someone from a reputable background and may assume the identity of a real person. Many hackers use this information for identity theft as well. There are two ways that phishing attempts happen. The first method involves when a person provides private information to hackers. In the second method, the hacker may ask the person to download a file (malware). Such a file is present in an email attachment, and when it downloads on a computer, it steals private information. Many companies suffer from a phishing attack because of employees’ negligence.
Malware is malicious software that performs security breaches, steals data, destroys equipment, and penetrates an organization’s private network. There are many ways malware gets downloaded on a company’s computer. In the absence of firewalls and anti-virus software, malware can find its way to your device.
Ransomware is a type of malware attack where a hacker prevents access to a company’s data and network until the hackers receive a ransom amount. This type of cyberattack is quite common because the hacker is motivated by financial gains. For small businesses, such an attack can be disastrous since it leads to financial losses. In 2018, 71%of ransomware attacks were aimed at small businesses.
Denial-of-service (DoS) Attack
DoS attacks can lead to shutting down a machine, network, servers, or website. The purpose of the cyberattack is to prevent users from accessing a communication channel, data, and performing other actions. The people that it targets could be employees as well as customers. DoS attack targets the vulnerabilities in a system and overloads it by sending requests. It prevents authentic users to access data from a server or a website. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is a type of DoS attack where a server is targeted from multiple sources and locations.
Man-in-the-middle (MITM) Attack
MITM involves a hacker inserting themselves between two entities, such as a client and a business organization. The hacker can intercept communication between the two and mislead the client into believing that they are talking to an authentic party. With such an attack, hackers can steal valuable information, including passwords, login ID, username, etc. Moreover, they can use the information to spy on individuals and blackmail them. Unsecure Wi-Fi is the leading cause of man-in-the-middle attacks. A MITM attack is not as common as phishing or ransomware, although it is one of the oldest forms of cyberattacks. Moreover, many organizations are prone to it from competitors and unsatisfied employees, who know a company’s secrets. Encrypting a network can prevent MITM attacks.
Best practices maintaining business cybersecurity
To prevent the threat of a cyberattack, companies can do well to take a few precautions and implement security measures. Here are a few best practices that businesses need to adapt to maintain business cybersecurity:
Compromise assessment can reveal a lot about a company’s cybersecurity measures. It offers a review of vulnerabilities in a company’s network, devices, and software. Moreover, it can also provide insights regarding potential threats that a company faces. It is a cost-effective method to identify any unknown hackers that are actively trying to breach the company’s network.
Organizations tend to downplay the fact that their employees are the ones who often cause cyberattacks. Employees may unwittingly provide information to the hacker without the knowledge of a company. Hence, employee training is essential to ensure that they do not fall prey to a hacker. Employees require training on the following points:
- Identifying spam email from the genuine one using email filtering options
- Avoiding pop-ups and unknown senders
- The importance of setting strong passwords and 2fa (two-factor authentication)
- Avoid providing information to bogus and fake websites.
- Avoid connecting to public and free Wi-FI because MITM cyberattack starts at this point.
Businesses can take certain steps to protect themselves against the growing threat of cyber attacks. One of these steps is more widespread use of multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication adds a layer of security on top of your regular password by requiring you to enter a code that’s been texted or emailed to you before you can log in. Many businesses have already enabled OWA MFA (Outlook Web Application Multi-factor authentication) to protect their data and emails and prevent their account takeovers. Multi-factor authentication is especially helpful for business owners who don’t have control over their IT departments, as it puts more responsibility in the hands of individual employees. These days most people already carry around smartphones, so adding an extra layer to an account is nothing more than an inconvenience—one that might just save your company from being hacked.
Data Backup on the Cloud
It is a good idea to back up the company’s and customers’ data on the Cloud. Not only does it mitigate the risk of data loss, but it also ensures that the company can continue its operation without facing any delays. Moreover, you can backup data on offsite and remote servers.
Firewall and Antivirus Software
Invest in security systems that prevent unauthorized access to a company’s Wi-Fi and other communication networks. Other security systems filter out viruses before they infect a device. Firewall and antivirus software acts as the first line of defense in battling against a cyberattack. A firewall at the periphery of a network, called the network firewall, monitors the incoming and outgoing data packets. While a firewall protects both hardware and software components from a cyber attack, anti-virus software identifies malware and removes it from the system.
There is no doubt that cyberattacks put an organization at risk and cause damages in more ways than one. Businesses need to realize the importance of investing in cybersecurity measures that protect a company from breaches. Moreover, employees need to adopt a few habits so that they do not fall easy prey to phishing attempts.
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