Cybersecurity is one of the challenges faced by businesses today. Almost every business owner has heard of cybersecurity, and some have cybersecurity tools in place. However, it lacks urgency in addressing cybersecurity awareness among its end-users. Cybersecurity awareness puts emphasis on understanding the motives of bad actors and proactively utilizing security tools to prevent a cyberattack.
There isn’t much good news on cybercrime. More companies are wrestling with protecting themselves, and the cost of a data breach continues to grow. It can feel like it is just a matter of time before your organization becomes a victim. There is another approach.
The phrase “the best defense is a good offense” doesn’t just apply to football. With proper security planning, you can be proactive rather than reactive and significantly reduce the potential for damage. This blog offers some high-level tips to prepare your team and go on the attack against cybercrime. BlackPoint IT also provides a free cybersecurity assessment for a personalized report.
Ransomware, a type of malware, is on the rise. Cybercriminals have developed a model that often works. These hackers typically use email to lure in their victims, enticing them to click on something malicious. Once clicked, the malware is activated and starts working through your systems, encrypting your data. The attacker requires you to pay money (usually bitcoin) in exchange for a decryption key that enables you to regain access to your files. These attacks can be devastating to a business.
How hackers lure unsuspecting users varies. It can be an email advising you to upgrade your software and providing a link. It could be an email from a seemingly trusted source with a link to activate specific applications your organization uses. These attacks are very profitable for attackers, which means they continuously change their approach and often use social engineering to trick their way inside your network.
Why do hackers want your data?
Understanding the motives of hackers is essential for developing a robust cybersecurity strategy. If you don’t know precisely why attackers want to steal your data, it isn’t easy to plan effective measures for stopping them. Here are some common motivations:
1. Sell your data
One way hackers profit from stolen data is by selling it on the dark web. These collections can include millions of stolen data records—from payment information, classified information, social security number, and more. Once buyers have bought it, they use this data for criminal purposes.
Sometimes, hackers want to steal your data to hold it for ransom. Hackers control your data, making it unusable until you pay them a fee (ransom). It’s been an effective method for hackers who encrypt data and have the intention of only holding on to it for as long as it takes the victim to pay up. Ransomware attacks are among the fastest-growing types of cyberattacks—the percentage of attacks and the number of attacks continue to increase today.
3. Identity theft
Identity theft is a crime in which the stolen data or information is used to claim benefits at the victim’s expense. Criminals steal personal details such as full name, address, credit card number, and more. Hackers use this data to commit a crime.
4. Ruining company reputation
Another widespread cybersecurity attack is denial-of-service or DoS. It’s also called distributed denial of service (DDoS), which prevents a website from working. DDoS is challenging because there doesn’t seem to be a motive other than to prove they can disrupt the business.
How can you protect your organization?
Hundreds of new viruses are created every day by industrious hackers, but there are also several ways to protect your data and find where the weakest entry points exist. How should you begin to approach a cybersecurity issue?
Weak passwords go unchanged even when a user gets reminded multiple times. Use a password manager, and insist that anyone with access to your data does the same.
2. Remote Targets
Non-secure public hotspots are an easy window to your data. If you have employees that work remotely, they often connect through non-encrypted networks. Try using a virtual private network (VPN) instead. VPNs keep remote employees hidden as they access company data.
3. Continuing Education
Human error is more often than not the source of a cyberattack. Determine which staff members are the least educated and offer them opportunities to learn.
4. Third Parties
Small businesses often find it challenging to approach cybersecurity with a solid strategy, which is why it’s wise to outsource security management. Outsourcing helps to reduce the threat of a cyberattack from within your own company.
5. Administrative rights
You should also utilize administrative rights on company computers. Access management keeps unauthorized employees from mistakenly introducing something corrupt into your system.
6. Security Software
Security companies are on the hunt for cybercriminals and developing new ways to block their attacks. Keeping your software updated ensures you have the latest protections implemented. Additionally, it would be best if you had a robust firewall in place.
These proactive steps will help minimize your risk. Unfortunately, there is still a chance that a hacker could slip malware into your system. Backing up your data will help you recover quickly should a disaster strike. Data backup should occur daily. Finding a third party to assist you in backing up at least 90 days’ worth of data and saving several versions of it at an off-site facility is highly recommended.
Ways to improve cybersecurity awareness
Cyber threats are becoming prevalent, making impacts too grave for organizations to neglect. Having strong cybersecurity awareness policies can do wonders to dull cybersecurity risks—helping ensure all your end-users acknowledge basic cybersecurity practices. Here are a few cybersecurity awareness tips for your company can benefit from:
1. Cybersecurity Training Program
One of the most obvious ways to increase cybersecurity awareness in your organization is by organizing a formal cybersecurity awareness training program. A cybersecurity awareness program is an education process that equips your employees with essential to advanced IT security best practices. It lays down the foundation for protecting their devices, and personal information can help their organization keep the bad actors away.
2. Employee Cybersecurity Test
Aside from feeding employees with educational resources, it’s vital to test employees on their security awareness to ensure that the lessons learned apply in the work setting. Trying them can be from simple assessments at the end of the training program or sending out a random dummy phishing email to see if employees will fall for them. Doing these will help toughen the lessons learned from the awareness programs and highlight the importance of taking the training programs seriously and see which areas in the awareness program need reinforcement.
At BlackPoint IT Services, we specialize in making sure your employees are aware of cybersecurity risks. We help organizations keep protected against cyberattacks from your inbox to your end-users. Keep your cybersecurity strategy bold and proactive. If you’re ready to talk, contact us today.