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Security Tips for the Businesses of Today

 Security. - The quality or state of being secure

1. freedom from danger or risk

2. freedom from fear of anxiety

3. measure taken to guard against espionage, sabotage, crime, attack or escape.

Security Tips for the Businesses

We live in a world fraught with dangers.  We face threats when we travel abroad, when our kids go to school and even when we sleep in our own homes at night.  Our places of work are no different.  But just as we would take all the necessary steps to protect and safeguard ourselves, our families and our homes from all clear and present danger, we also need to take advantage of every security tip if we want to protect our businesses and livelihoods from a diverse range of threats as well.  

Internet fraud and cyberattacks cost businesses around the world, billions of dollars every year. The ability to maintain a secure network has become a crucial element in a business’s ongoing fight against cyberattacks. Cyberattacks against businesses, government departments and even the military, are growing in number and sophistication year on year. In 2021, organisations around the world saw malicious incursions by cybercriminals and unfriendly nation states rise by over 15% from the previous year and this is forecast to rise in the years ahead.

The FBI estimates that fraudulent activity resulting from cyberattacks and other associated unlawful activity cost U.S. companies more than $6.9 billion in that year alone. In addition to the obvious extra financial burden, this activity brought untold chaos to businesses, hospitals, universities, airports and commercial enterprises, disrupting vital services and effecting the distribution of essential supplies, at a time when many people were still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of Covid-19 and the resulting world economic downturn.

Yet surprisingly, many organisations are still failing to invest the necessary manpower and resources into tackling this important issue, leaving their networks vulnerable to malicious and destructive attacks which can have a deleterious impact on their ability to keep sensitive data secure and to continue functioning effectively.

This sometimes naive and ill-prepared approach to cybersecurity is not matched by the increasing sophistication and determination of the cyber attackers themselves. Professional hackers are not bored teenagers testing out their coding skills in dark attic bedrooms.  They are cold and calculating career criminals greedy for dishonest gain or cyberterrorists, with political or nationalistic agendas, seeking to cause widespread disruption and corruption and to spread mistrust and fear.

They are not inspired by juvenile curiosity or adolescent rage.  Their attacks are not random and chaotic.  Instead, they are well planned, appropriately resourced in hardware and software, with specific financial or political targets in their sights.  Whether they are successful or not, they still cause enough damage to our commercial and national networks and service delivery systems to generate an ongoing environment of fear and anxiety.

Though, just as a professional hacker carefully prepares and equips himself for his attacks, businesses and organisations, of all sizes and natures, can, and indeed must, take the necessary steps to prepare and equip themselves to stave off these relentless attacks, and ensure the continued security of their networks and their data.

The Internet Security Software Market is growing rapidly in line with the increasing number of ransomware and malware attacks around the globe.  Network security software protects vital data and systems by tracking and preventing harmful incursions into networks by Trojan horses, spyware, malware, ransomware, worms and phishing.

The Internet is a vital portal into the heart of the organisation, for the transfer of information, services and financial transactions.  Security software provides an umbrella of rules, protocols, and tactics and strategies to protect this vital lifeline.  But this is only one line of defence in the increasingly destructive battlefield of cyber warfare.

Ongoing security training of the workforce is also extremely important if we are to keep our networks and our business endeavours safe and secure.  Much like wearing face masks and washing our hands frequently will help prevent the spread of a clinical virus, simple office hygiene protocols are a fundamental first line of defence against cyberattack.

Basic protocols and procedures for the secure transfer, storage and disposal of personal or sensitive information should be established and routinely monitored.  This would include the secure shredding of printed information, and the secure destruction of discarded or redundant computer hardware, such as tablets, laptops and phones.

Access to computer networks via workstations and terminals again is an area that requires specific protocols to be in place, such as the use of personal passwords and an awareness of the need to fully log off during breaktimes and overnight.  Networks have become increasingly vulnerable to unauthorised access during the Covid-19 pandemic as many companies allowed employees to work from home, often over unsecure networks.  Well established security protocols, up to date security software and good personal working habits will all serve to keep the threat from such vulnerability to the minimum.

Another avenue of attack is through the increased use of online collaboration platforms such as Zoom and Teams that has allowed cybercriminals to log into workplace meetings and gain access to vital business information.  There have even been cases where criminals have hacked the email accounts of managers and attended business meetings using deep fake images to incite employees to divulge sensitive information and facilitate illicit financial transactions. This again highlights the need for organisations to improve all aspects of security and ongoing specialised training of personnel.

According to the FBI analysis, email scams, including phishing remains the number one threat to US businesses in terms of the volume of incidents and the financial losses incurred every year.  Again, the answer lies in establishing clear and consistent guidelines for employees in relation to dealing with unsolicited emails, opening attachments form unvalidated sources and verification protocols to aid in preventing fraudulent transactions.

Some managers may baulk at the rising cost of investing in cybersecurity technologies and ongoing cyber security training but the cost of not doing so will be far more damaging in the long term. The total cost of cybercrime to the global economy has been estimated to surpass $6 trillion in 2022.  And this does not include the disruption to people’s everyday lives as vulnerability in the health, education and transport sectors increase.  

The message is clear.  Invest now in the training and technology that will protect your business from increasingly sophisticated and determined cybercriminals and you will have the security and peace of mind from knowing you have done your best for your business and your future.

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