Keep your business safe from cyber attacks
It seems that not a day goes by where we don’t see another headline when a major business is being brought to its knees from a cyber-attack. According to Cybercrime magazine, 60% of small businesses close within 6 months of being hacked. The evolving nature of these threats requires a proactive approach to safeguard your business operations. Let's look at some relatively simple yet essential measures that can help you fortify your company’s cyber-defences.
Education, education, education!
This is the first and most crucial step in strengthening your security. We’ve all had emails that look genuine but which don’t bear up under closer scrutiny. The most likely cause of an infection could be someone opening a suspect attachment, so by ensuring that staff are educated to common threats such as phishing and social engineering you’ll protect yourself from most general attacks. Empower your employees to identify and share potential risks with others.
Keep passwords and accounts fresh
It’s good practice to ensure that passwords are changed regularly and comply to a minimum complexity level. A good password manager can help with this. It will automatically remind you when a password has been in use for a while or elsewhere. Ensure that as staff move departments or leave your business, any relevant account access is revoked – this will make your overall exposure to brute force password attacks much smaller.
Robust Access Controls and Authentication
Encourage the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA) to add an extra layer of protection. By verifying user identity through multiple factors, such as a password as well as a unique code sent to their mobile phone or email, you can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorised access.
Regular Software Updates:
The reason behind the ‘success’ of the WannaCry virus was because so many systems were vulnerable to it, despite Microsoft launching a patch for the already-unsupported Windows XP operating system two months previously. Have a policy in place to ensure that you regularly update operating systems, applications, and firmware to address known vulnerabilities. Enabling automatic updates can streamline this process and ensure that your systems are immediately protected against emerging threats. If you have PCs in use that you cannot update because the hardware or machinery that they are driving is old and not supported by new operating systems, then consider ‘air-gapping’ these, so that they are not connected to your network and open to exploitation.
Secure Network Infrastructure:
Protect your network by deploying firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention systems, and virtual private networks (VPNs). These measures help safeguard against unauthorised access and protect sensitive data in transit. You might also consider segmenting your network, such as an entirely separate guest WIFI for visitors, to limit access to critical systems.
Data Backup and Encryption:
If the worst does happen, a robust data backup strategy will get you back up and running with minimal disruption. Don’t just rely on a single backup strategy and remember that you don’t really have a backup until you have successfully restored from a backup. Store backups offsite and regularly test their integrity to ensure their effectiveness.
You should also encrypt sensitive data to ensure that even if your systems are compromised, sensitive data remains unreadable, providing an added layer of protection. Cloud backup services offer a fast and secure way of implementing a secure backup strategy, also automatically creating version backups as files changes, meaning that you can roll back files to a specific date in time if need be.
Enterprise-wide systems such as your ERP systems will most certainly be database-driven. Automated mechanisms can be put into place to create nightly (or more frequent) backups that are then also stored off-site. If your database is stored in the cloud already, then it’s likely to be more resilient to attack. 123insight can be hosted either on-premise or in the cloud, giving you the best option for the security approach that you want to adopt in your business.
The threat of AI
As the march of AI continues to exponentially gather pace in 2023, we can expect to see more sophisticated attacks that use AI to mine vast amounts of data and then create believable text, voice, and even video. A man in China lost almost £500,000 after receiving a video call from a scammer who used AI software to replace the face and voice of his supposed friend.
It’s quite feasible today that videos of key staff could be scraped from social media and deep fake scam videos created, asking other staff to provide sensitive information, transfer funds, etc. While the AI landscape is evolving quickly and we don’t yet know what new threats might look like, simply being aware of the technology and suspicious of any activity outside of the norm will help to protect your business.
Continuous Monitoring and Incident Response
Lastly, put systems in place to monitor network and system activities, which should flag if an attack is underway. Regularly analyse logs to detect any unusual behaviour or signs of potential breaches. Additionally, develop an incident response plan that outlines the steps to be taken in the event of a cyber-attack or data breach, and make sure that all relevant staff are aware of it.
You should take the approach of not if but when a cyber-attack likely to happen to your business. Today, we rely 100% on technology to run our businesses. Ask yourself this right now: ‘If our network went offline right now, how long could we continue to operate? What systems are critical, and how would we restore them if the worst happened?’.
Cybersecurity is everyone's responsibility, and fostering a security culture within your organisation is crucial. Stay informed about the latest threats, consult with cybersecurity professionals, and adapt your security measures as the landscape evolves. By investing in cybersecurity, you safeguard your business's reputation, customer trust, and future success.