There’s no doubt that cybercrime is a large and looming threat for most businesses. Especially if you neglect to implant effective cybersecurity defences to protect the personal data of your customers, employees, supplier, partners and investors.
Reports several that cybercrime is estimated to net nefarious actors around $8.44 trillion a year – and that handsome sum is expected to increase to a whopping $23.84 trillion a year by 2027.
It’s not clear whether the beneficiaries of these trillions are actually cybercriminals or the Information Commissioners Office. Given that GDPR has already netted EU bureaucrats €3 billion in fines since its inception in March 2018, the authorities are doing pretty well out of a scheme that doesn’t perform the role it’s designed for – to prevent online users from receiving unsolicited spam because businesses are selling their data. Are you still receiving spam?
The switch to the modern workplace has also accelerated the onslaught of phishing emails hackers use to hook unsuspecting employees of companies. During the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic, Interpol reported malware and phishing attacks increased by 788 per cent.
With companies forced out of the traditional workplace, work-from-home employees were sitting ducks for malicious actors to pick off. Home networks are far easier to infiltrate the business networks that have effective cybersecurity defences built around them.
Now the dust has settled, the threat for most businesses is not as bad. However, cyberattacks have not subsided. It is estimated that 81% of organisations globally receive phishing emails on a regular basis.
Firms that adopted a Bring-Your-own-Device model also offer an invitation to hackers unless they deploy endpoint security measures. So what are the effective strategies every business should implement to protect customer data?
Provide Cybersecurity Awareness Training
A study reveals that 4 out of five companies only provide their staff with cybersecurity training every year. This could amount to gross negligence in the eyes of the Information Commissioner’s Office considering that new techniques and malicious codes are identified on an ongoing basis by cybersecurity firms.
As a matter of fact, the leading consultancy firm Accenture recommends employees should receive ongoing cybersecurity training to uncover the latest hacking techniques. Accenture estimates employees need at least 11 cybersecurity refreshers a year in order to build and maintain resilience.
This makes complete sense when you consider that around 90% of data breaches are caused by employees clicking on malicious links and downloading documents infected with malware.
Also bear in mind that cybercriminals are ahead of the curve and consistently find new ways to exploit vulnerabilities and infiltrate business networks. The latest malware to be discovered uses an open-source SparkRAT and malware code m6699.exe to get around Golang source code interpretation without being detected.
Invest in 24/7 Remote Monitoring Software
Remote monitoring software detects suspicious behaviour on a network and blocks user access. Whilst suspicious behaviour could be an employee aimlessly snooping around the backend or performing an ad hoc task that is outside the scope of their usual duties, 24/7 remote software is designed to provide round-the-clock protection.
Cloud-based software typically includes security features such as access permissions. This is a zero-tolerance strategy that only allows certain users to access parts of your network they need to perform their job.
For example, an employee in operations would have access to their Microsoft 365 account, but wouldn’t be able to access an accounting app such as Sage. Even executives can be excluded from accessing files if they have no decision-making function for that account.
Implementing access permissions is relatively straightforward if you know what you’re looking for. If not a quick Google search should satisfy your enquiry. Alternatively, enlist the help of outsourced IT support providers that have experience with cloud-based software.
Install A Virtual Desktop
According to Microsoft, over 70% of employees want to work from home. This preference for working is prompting companies to adopt a hybrid working model to give their staff more flexibility and autonomy.
In theory, the hybrid model can be advantageous. However, it can also increase the risk of a data breach unless you protect your business network against hackers.
A concrete solution to defend work-from-home employees against the threat of hackers is to create a virtual desktop (VD). VDs essentially replicate the interface of your operating system and provide employees with a secure environment to conduct their work without any risk of allowing hackers to infiltrate your actual network.
VDs, of course, are not a single-solution strategy, but they do add an extra layer to your cybersecurity defences. Even if a device on your network is compromised, hackers would not be able to access your network and steal information or initiate ransomware.
Deploy Patch Management Services
Whenever a piece of software is released into the market for public use, it will inevitably develop a vulnerability that can be exploited by malicious actors. Subsequently, software companies have to release software updates which contain security patches.
However, once a security patch has been issued, it is the responsibility of every device owner that uses the software to update the security patch. This is where potential problems can arise.
Can you trust all of your employees to update a security patch? It’s also worth bearing in mind that two or three patches may be released each week if you use a lot of apps and plugins. Imagine how disruptive this is to the productivity of your staff.
Patch management services eliminate problems caused by the release of security patches. You can schedule the update to be performed during the early hours of the morning when your employees are unlikely to be using their devices.
The authorities continue to warn companies about the need to protect their business network against hackers and issue penalties to firms that neglect to fulfil compliance obligations.
The three strategies mentioned above go a long way to preventing a data breach – and at the very least, mitigate the risk of a hefty ICO fine for failing GDPR compliance.