With cyberattacks being a daily occurrence nowadays, it's even more critical that businesses are taking steps to prevent them. Cyberattacks and ransomware are now considered a global threat, so now it's more important than ever to understand how cyberattacks can occur and how to prevent them.
To be precise, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2021, cybersecurity failure is perceived as the fourth most likely risk that will become a critical global threat in the short term.
What is a Cybersecurity Attack?
In computers and computer networks, an attack attempts to expose, alter, disable, destroy, steal or gain information through unauthorised access to or make unauthorised use of an asset.
Typical forms of this are:
- Identity theft, fraud, extortion
- Stolen hardware, such as laptops or mobile phones
- Breach of access
- System infiltration
- Private and public web browser exploits
- Intellectual property (IP) theft or unauthorised access
- Malware, phishing, spamming, spyware and viruses
Most common forms of attackers:
- Cybercriminals who are interested in making money through fraud or from the sale of valuable information
- Industrial competitors and foreign intelligence services, interested in gaining economic advantage for their companies or countries
- Hackers attempting to interfere with computer systems for enjoyment
- Hacktivists who wish to attack companies for political or ideological motives
- Employees (those who have legitimate access, either by accidental or deliberate misuse)
How to prevent cyberattacks?
Train staff to be aware of common cyber threats: Commonly, employees will receive a fraudulent email impersonation of someone in your company and ask for personal details such as passwords and access to private files. Sometimes these attacks can seem normal to people unaware of cyberattacks. Hence, it is vital to train employees to review links and senders' addresses before clicking on them. Even checking via a phone call with the person in question before actioning the request. Ensuring staff handle data sensitively, browse intuitively and work securely are part of day-to-day operations that will help your business prevent cyberattacks.
Keep software up-to-date: There have been many cases where cyberattacks could have been prevented by updating software. A survey by security company Tripwire found that one in three IT professionals in Europe admitted that their organisation had been breached due to an unpatched vulnerability.
If your outdated software includes the use, storage or application of data, that data becomes at risk. Your systems will become more vulnerable to ransomware attacks, malware and data breaches. This serves to underline the importance of updating your software applications.
Perform regular cybersecurity audits: Understanding where your security vulnerabilities lie is the key to being ahead of an attacker. It is recommended to use the latest threat intelligence to analyse your security deficiencies and put together an action plan.
Have a recovery plan in place - backup data: In the event of a significant cyberattack, a recovery plan needs to be in place. Your action recovery plan must be thorough enough so that any interruption to the business lasts the shortest amount of time possible to avoid catastrophic disturbances. Having backups of your essential business data and information is vital. Firstly, determine what data is the most important to protect and backup; this can be done by dividing all files into categories from the most to least vital for day-to-day operations.
Control access: Having control over who can access the company network is essential. It's vital to control who has access to your computers and even specific files as if the worst were to happen; it will be easier to identify the issue. Having a perimeter security system installed is an excellent way to stop cybercrime as much as break-ins!
A common risk as a business owner and having employees is installing software on business-owned devices that could harm your systems. Managing admin rights and blocking staff from installing or even accessing specific data on the network is beneficial to security.
Use strong passwords: Passwords are essential in keeping hackers out of your data. According to the National Cyber Security Centre, you should consider:
- Using multi-factor authentication
- Don't use the same password twice
- Make sure it contains at least one lowercase letter, one uppercase letter, one number, and a symbol
- Reset your password regularly
It's a difficult task to know where to begin when it comes to protecting a business from cybercrime. There's a lot of information out there that can become overwhelming, especially when the information differs. However, the cyberattack prevention methods covered above are a good starting point to establish an effective strategy in mitigating potential cyberattacks for your business and protecting your future security.