The fact that most of businesses, from an advertising agency to a convenience store, deal with sensitive data in their computer systems makes them vulnerable to cyber-attacks. A single mistake or oversight can cause huge troubles for these companies. For large businesses, a serious data breach may cost millions in cash and ruin their reputation.
The war between hackers and all those trying to fight them is in full swing and it’s hard to imagine its end. Sometimes, there’s really nothing you can do since cyber-criminals are getting more advanced and elusive every year. However, you might be surprised at how many of those cyber-attacks could’ve been prevented just by following the most basic security procedures and policies. Often, the threat is coming from the inside and thus it’s crucial to pay attention to what happens within your own company. Let’s see what that exactly means.
Intentional inside attacks
More particularly, 60 percent of breaches of this type were done from inside the company that was attacked. What’s even more troubling is that only a quarter of those were inadvertent, with the rest of them being performed with malicious intent. How are you supposed to protect yourself in this case?
First of all, you should perform detailed background checks on new employees as well as maintain good communication with your HR or other people of trust inside the company who could let you know if something suspicious happens. Furthermore, there are numerous employee monitoring software that could help you keep track of what’s going on. If you have a feeling that monitoring your workers is a sign of being a bit too paranoid, just think about it: it’s not necessary for someone to be an IT genius to cause a huge network security problem. All it takes for a disloyal worker to ruin your reputation or even your business is to have any kind of access to sensitive data. It’s extremely worrying that more than 20 percent of employees in the US and the UK wouldn’t mind selling their employer’s data if they had a chance. Therefore, you’ll have to be extra careful with who you employ and who you give access to important data.
However, there’s still a significant portion of inside attacks caused by pure ignorance or inexperience. You have to take into consideration that a lot of people today use computers at their workplace on a daily basis, but that still doesn’t mean they have the necessary technological competence to avoid causing troubles in the system. All your employees should undertake some kind of training and be taught about crucial safety procedures they have to follow. For instance, there’s a stunning number of breaches that happened just because of passwords that were too weak or not regularly changed.
BYOD (“bring your own device”) is a policy that has its own advantages and drawbacks. On one hand, it’s quite convenient for your employees to use the same device at work as the one they use at home. On the other hand, you have to keep in mind that when all these are connected into a single system, the threat of an attack increases significantly. One wrong move made by any of them – an unintentionally downloaded malware or a lost device can make your entire network vulnerable. This might be a cheaper option for you since you don’t have to buy expensive hardware, but if things go wrong you can end up paying much more to fix the consequences.
At the end of the day, no matter how careful you are with your employees and security protocols that you’re implementing, you’re still not absolutely safe. Cyber-criminals are improving their skills and coming up with new tricks, so there are all sorts of ways you can still be threatened. Just have in mind what happened to Equifax last year – if this sort of things can happen to huge corporations that spend tons of cash on cyber-security, you can never consider yourself safe.
For instance, take direct debit payment, which is essentially a process of an automatic withdrawal of funds from another person’s or company’s account. This is a pretty standard procedure in pre-arranged transactions such as recurring payment. Of course, recurring payment is a very widespread and useful way of doing business, but it’s also very prone to abuses. For a business that decides to charge its services this way, it’s essential to protect the sensitive payment card data. A single oversight can lead to a breach that can in turn lead to a spill of a huge amount of confidential info. That’s why it’s crucial to use trusted direct debit solutions that are PCI DSS compliant. PCI DSS compliance is necessary for any business dealing with online payments. It’s a set of standards and procedures concerning payment card data encryption and storage that are required to be followed in order to keep the data safe.
In general, it’s advisable not to store any of the data that can be exploited, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Also, if you run an ecommerce business, use ecommerce platforms that are proven to be safe and sound. You definitely don’t want the financial data of all your customers being in hands of someone careless and untrustworthy.
All in all, the key to keep your business secure from cyber-attacks is prevention. Make sure you update your security software regularly, perform frequent penetration testing, and don’t forget to keep your employees up-to-date with latest protection procedures. There’s all sorts of other methods to prevent cyber-attacks, such as multi-factor authentication or reducing the number of places in which you store the confidential data. Always think in advance, because as soon as a harmful breach happens it might already be too late to fix the consequences.