The Cybercrime Epidemic
Cyberattacks are an omnipresent threat. So, we put together a checklist of basic steps every business should take in order to protect their data.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
Each day, the threat SMBs face while operating in the digital sphere grows. What’s changing isn’t the act of cyber-crime itself, but rather, the way the cyber-crimes are being committed.
SMBs are at an immediate disadvantage when it comes to resources and having the appropriate measures in place to protect sensitive information. Because of this, they are the favoured targets of cybercriminals as their networks are less secure, making them easier to breach.
Cybercrime: The Upward Slope
Cybercrime is not slowing down globally; Australia has experienced the highest number of reported incidents in the last 12 months, with an increase of 109%. When compared with other countries, Australia has also experienced almost triple the number of attacks, with the incline predicted to continue to increase.
There is no singular solution when it comes to network security. 96% of SMBs in Australia, the US, and the UK consider themselves at risk of cybersecurity threats, yet when it comes to being ready to address them, 71 percent believe they are not ready.
Exploiting the Flaws
SMBs are increasingly vulnerable to external cybercrime forces. They lack the resources, knowledge, and responsibility when it comes to managing their own cybersecurity. Because of this, they are unable to mitigate risks, as they lack the tools to implement when compared to that of larger companies. This makes them easily exploitable in the eyes of cyberattackers as they can permeate through the vulnerable defences in place.
All SMBs experience vulnerability in their daily operations. But, the existence of vulnerability does not equate to an immediate risk. This is because the risk in IT is determined by a combination of two factors:
- Access to the vulnerability.
- Ability to exploit the vulnerability.
If these two elements are satisfied, then risk will be at an all-time high.Thus, effective management within a business needs to occur to ensure risk is minimized and vulnerabilities are mitigated.
Too Many Assets, Too Little Time
Vulnerability management constitutes the recurrent process of identifying relevant risks within the IT environment so that they can be prioritised, remediated and mitigated. Due to the high volume of assets that businesses have, prioritizing which assets to assess is essential, as companies tend to fall into the trap of trying to remediate absolutely everything, causing them to miss substantial risks.
This can be done through both external and internal solutions:
- Cyclical firewall updates.
- Updating/modifying application configuration.
- Patching network layers.
- Removing vulnerability from sets of assets.
- Intrusion detection/prevention systems.
Spectrum of Threats
With the threat of cyberattacks growing every day, SMBs need to be aware of the sophisticated and disruptive techniques used.
Phishing, malware, and viruses are social engineering techniques used by cybercriminals to manipulate you. Through clicking, opening or downloading malicious items, criminals can permeate the system to gain access to sensitive data and information.
Weak passwords are one of the biggest threats to businesses. Any password that is not more than eight characters long and does not include a variety of letters, numbers or symbols can be easily cracked in a day.
Personal devices are easily infiltrated as they are attached to us for most of the day. Does your personal data have anti-virus software?Are they using cloud storage? They are at risk of being piggy-backed through their own phone software, with the result being the exploitation of sensitive information.
Out-dated software can cause your security measures to be less effective, as it may not be able to support or implement the measures. This puts your data at risk.
Team members need to be trained in detection knowledge to be able to pick out dodgy/fishy looking emails. Staff members also need to be trustworthy and reliable, as they could intentionally steal and expose sensitive information that they have access to without anyone knowing. Minimize the amount of downloading you do while at work, as well as the amount of times you use your machine for personal tasks - attackers generally research employee’s information and online activities to target them with malicious and convincing links.
Don’t Get Left Behind
Several measures can be implemented to improve your security and protect your business from online threats.
- Encrypt your data.
- Educate your employees and include practical training examples.
- Stay updated with cyber news in the digital sphere.
- Lock and update your wireless network and configuration regularly.
- Unit anti-malware and spyware protection.
- Limit the number of user accounts and access rights.
- Monitor and block online activities.
- Implement a security policy that is continually updated and regulated throughout business operations.
- Secure all mobile devices in the work sphere and enforce regulations regarding ‘work uses’ on the device.
Cybercriminals are only on the rise with SMBs at an increasing disadvantage when it comes to implementing the resources needed to combat attacks. Knowledge is your most powerful asset, as is the ability to improve your security measures in place now.
The opportunity cost of implementing more effective security steps outweighs any alternative on the market. Keeping your business safe from the continuous realm of cyber-attacks should not be seen as mandatory but essential to any SMB's success.
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.