2020 has seen an incredible number of businesses fully migrate into the digital community. While the motivating factors behind such a paradigm shift cannot be denied, it is important to mention that such changes are associated with their unique threats and challenges.
Perhaps one of the most serious threats of doing business online involves the growing risk of security breaches and similar instances of data theft. For a business to understand the steps that need to be taken, it is first prudent to identify the current challenges and how these can dramatically impact day-to-day operations. Let’s break this topic down into a series of sections to highlight the big (digital) picture.
Improper or Insufficient In-House Training
Businesses are often focused upon understandably important metrics such as sales, marketing and product development. Unfortunately, this often leaves little room for training employees about how to deal with cybersecurity issues. When this fact is combined with a lack of capital to outsource more robust cybersecurity solutions, the problem becomes entirely evident.
The problem here is that modern digital threats are evolving at a much faster pace than businesses can counter their effects. This is also why 34 per cent of all businesses which suffered from a cyber-attack required at least one full week to regain access to important data.
It is therefore clear to see that companies will need to devote a significant amount of their finances towards providing employees with the proper level of training. Some techniques include being able to identify a suspicious email, appreciating how to adequately secure their personal devices, when to use a VPN, and appreciating when to report a suspected attack to mitigate the potential effects.
Photo supplied by the author
Cloud-Based Data Migration
Based on the observations pointed out in the previous section, it would seem to make perfect sense to utilise the advantages associated with cloud-based storage systems. After all, these digital repositories provide a greater degree of redundancy and they will not fall victim to threats such as a targeted DDoS attack. Unfortunately, there is another problem to highlight.
Cloud-based storage systems such as digital silos are primarily concerned with the storage of data as opposed to providing the most robust firewalls. In some cases, these servers can be more vulnerable than a traditional in-house network. This is also why only the most trusted and respected cloud platforms should be selected.
The Disposal of Legacy Hardware
Photo by Markus Spiske via Unsplash
Businesses are constantly trying to remain one step ahead of the technological curve. Implementing an effective Internet of Things (IoT) strategy, providing employees with updated smartphones, and linking personal devices to CRM systems have all become commonplace. If a device such as a computer becomes outdated or redundant, it will normally be discarded in the same manner as an empty ink cartridge.
However, relatively few stakeholders are aware that this poses a massive cybersecurity risk. Information contained within the hard drives of these units can be easily accessed and exploited if it happens to fall in the wrong hands. It is also ironic to point out that this is often one of the most overlooked data security policies. It is paramount that hard drives and any device which contains sensitive or proprietary information are disposed of properly.
The three most effective methods include:
- Overwriting existing data.
- Using a process known as degaussing to magnetically “wipe” a hard drive clean.
- Physically destroying the device in question by thorough shredding.
It should already be obvious that most businesses do not possess the in-house resources to perform such tasks. This is why they must be outsourced to a trustworthy third-party firm.
The Growing Prevalence of Ransomware
Ransomware can trace its roots as far back as 2005 although it did not gain notoriety until the past few years. Businesses are often attractive targets for this type of threat which is why it’s so important to have offsite backups and a disaster recovery plan in place. This can occur for two reasons:
- It might be easier to pay the money as opposed to losing massive amounts of data.
- A ransomware breach that was publicised would severely damage the reputation of the organisation in question.
The main issue here is that there is never any guarantee that the data will be returned and that the devices will be unlocked even if the ransom is paid. Thus, firms need to find efficient means to counter such potent threats.
Although all of the risks mentioned above are potent in their own rights, it is just as wise to remember that businesses can still adopt a hose of practices to lessen the threats that would otherwise be posed. The bottom line is that management needs to adopt a proactive as opposed to a reactive stance. As the expression goes, the most effective offence is a good defence.