Cybersecurity has received significant media coverage throughout 2019 and “cybersecurity risk” has reached peak interest on Google Trends over the past 12 months.
This attention is for good reason – as reliance on IT systems and devices grows in the workplace, businesses must remain vigilant for cyber-related threats.
But what exactly is cybersecurity? Why does it matter to small-to-medium sized businesses, and what can businesses do to mitigate cyber threats?
What is cybersecurity?
In simple terms, cybersecurity involves the protection of computer systems connected to the Internet. Entities such as government, business and organisations, as well as millions of individuals in Australia, rely on these connections every day.
There are multiple types of cybersecurity threats, with new ones emerging – and evolving – every day. Just a few examples include:
- Malware. This is any type of malicious software installed on someone’s computer without their knowledge.
- Phishing. Phishing involves sending a user an email with language persuading them to click on a link, and typically then instructing them to sign in. This involves a degree of social engineering, as the text is usually designed to appear trustworthy. Without cybersecurity measures in place it can be easy to overlook.
- Ransomware. Ransomware is software that will publish the victim’s data or perpetually block access to systems, unless money is paid to the hacker holding them “hostage.”
We’ve published more details on these and other cyber threats previously. Each threat is dangerously simple to come into contact with for even constantly connected professionals.
A cyber event or attack can come from a number of different sources, such as:
- Individuals seeking compensation.
- Individuals looking to uncover government or organisational secrets, or otherwise engage in espionage.
- Individuals looking to commit identity theft or some other type of fraud.
- Disgruntled employees seeking profit or revenge at a perceived slight.
- Employees who unwittingly expose the company to an attack (i.e. clicking on a phishing link).
- Vulnerabilities of outdated software programs that leave IT systems exposed to any of the above.
With an understanding of cybersecurity and the variety of threats associated with it, it’s important to also understand why it matters to small-to-medium sized businesses.
Why is cybersecurity important for small businesses?
The impacts of a cybersecurity event could be financially crippling
Whether it’s a data breach or some other type of cyber attack, the economic impacts of a cyber event could debilitate a company. It could lead to a major disruption of operations, hampering productivity and leading to monetary losses.
A study by research firm Security In Depth found that Australian data breaches and cyber attacks have spiked by almost 700% in the last calendar year. A 2019 IBM study found that “breaches are costing businesses an average of AUD$5.42 million (US$3.86 million) a year globally.”
A cyber attack could expose sensitive information
The financial costs notwithstanding, a data breach can also lead to a lack of faith between a business and its customers. If a business handles and stores sensitive data on customers – such as payment information and personally identifiable information – inadvertently exposing that data could lead to a loss of customer trust and, in turn, a loss of business.
It affects every member of an organisation
Maintaining good cybersecurity practices is the responsibility of anyone in an organisation who uses a computer, phone, or any other type of IT device or system. Understanding proper cybersecurity protocol doesn’t just fall to the IT staff or the junior team members. Organisations need to take a holistic approach to adopting better cyber practices.
What you can do about it
The first step is for your organisation to recognise that cybersecurity is critically important – just as important as any core business function. Promoting cyber education internally and how improper handling of cybersecurity threats can lead to bigger problems can help to raise awareness. By committing your company to prepare for a cyber event, you decrease the likelihood they will need to respond to one.
Once you’ve committed to solving the problem and made an organisation aware of the threats, it’s time to implement your cybersecurity solution.
- Security and network design best practice. Often connectivity and function are the focus of connecting systems rather than security. Ensure that security posture is reviewed by an expert periodically.
- Simulation training. By simulating attacks we can reduce the chances of employees unwittingly handing over their details.
- Next generation solutions. Firewalls, Endpoint Protection and Cloud Security solutions that can detect suspicious behaviour rather than just looking for known viruses.
SentinelOne delivers the security you need to prevent, detect, and undo known and unknown threats. It’s the only platform that defends every endpoint against every type of attack, at every stage in the threat lifecycle.
- Two-factor authentication. 2FA requires a secondary form of authentication when logging into accounts to verify identity. Read why 2FA is crucial for security.
The most critical component of adopting a better cybersecurity position is getting buy-in from across the business. Responsibility for cybersecurity falls with everyone who uses a computer, writes an email, or has a mobile device. There needs to be a commitment throughout the organisation, otherwise there will always be a risk of exposure.
For an assessment of your current cybersecurity practices, request a technical review below.