Cybercrime is on the rise and will only continue to be an issue so long as we use digital tech and going back into what would now be classed as the dark ages. Thankfully, for every threat and stride a cybercriminal makes, they are always one step behind the data scientists and cybersecurity specialists who work to create iron-clad
The Cost of Cybercrime
Cybercrime is big business. To understand just how big, consider that, in 2015, collateral damage and money that were stolen cost businesses and individuals USD 3 trillion. By 2021, it is estimated this annual amount will cost over USD 6 trillion around the world.
Both businesses and civilians are being targeted with increasing urgency and protecting your business and your employees has never been more critical.
The Most Prevalent Threats
Cybercriminals will work to attack the different systems of your business to prod for any weak spots. Their goal will vary. Sometimes what they steal is almost inconsequential. Other times it is your entire livelihood. Protecting from barrages of attacks, all with different motives, can be tricky, but when you understand the most prevalent threats, your cybersecurity strategy becomes much more apparent.
The Human Error
The first and most prevalent risk to any business is human error. If an employee uses the same password for everything, then you are at risk. You cannot protect their password or credentials outside of your business, so if a low-level site they’ve signed into gets hacked and information is stolen, your business is automatically at risk.
The same applies if they click on links that download a virus to their computer, or if they use unsecured Wi-Fi networks both at home and in a café. The strongest security system in the world can be felled by one thoughtless click by an employee who doesn’t know better, which is why training is one of the best steps you can take for your company.
The best bonus to improving security for thoughtless employees is that you can actually work to protect your business from any nefarious intentions your employees may have. Unique passwords and credentials, restricted data access, and training work to prevent criminals both within and outside of your business from attacking you.
Possibly one of the biggest threats to the spread of information and democracy today is deep fakes. With deep fakes, hackers could make key figures appear to say or do things that are an outright lie. This doesn’t just apply to celebrities or politicians, either. A spam email can contain a deep fake with the CEO as the victim to convince your employees or customers to click on the link and download that virus directly to your servers, or to even send money directly to the hacker themselves.
Deep fakes can work to ruin your reputation and spread misinformation throughout the internet like wildfire. Damage control and PR can help clean up that mess. Still, to prevent deep fakes from resulting in financial ruin, the best way is to increase financial transaction protocol so that it requires multiple verification steps.
Deep fakes are terrifying in their potential. Always be safer than sorry to protect your business against them.
Endpoints are the phones, personal computers, and even the smart devices that your employees and guests bring into your network. Surfing the internet at home could mean a virus is uploaded to your workplace the next day, for example. Improving your endpoint security isn’t just a cherry on top, it’s the frontline of your defense.
Unsecured Internet Connections
One of the reasons why endpoints are a risk, especially with so many working from home, is because of unsecured internet connections. This applies to personal, at-home Wi-Fi networks, as well as free Wi-Fi, so don’t be fooled into a false sense of security for your work-at-home employees.
Invest in VPNs for your employees or have them work in a cloud-based platform that you can better protect.
Machine Learning and Cybercrime
Machine learning is a powerful tool, but unfortunately, this power can be used for the wrong purposes. Machines can learn and continue to attack your system in new and smarter ways again and again. The best way to fight against an AI-backed attack is to use AI yourself.
New technologies offer a vast number of potential applications, but it is still new. Its security has yet to be perfected, and cybercriminals will use this untested territory as a back door into your system. The new tech you need to watch out for in the immediate future is 5G and the Internet of Things, so work to safeguard your systems further to prevent clever cybercriminals from using this new tech against you.
How to Prevent Cybercrime
Preventing cybercrime is a combination of improving your security infrastructure and preventing loopholes from happening. For example, human error is often one of the biggest threats to your business. The strongest security system in the world cannot stop a virus if it is willfully downloaded by an employee, or even by yourself.
That is why to prevent cybercrime, you need a combined approach that works to bring everyone on board.
1. Improve Training for Employees
If you want to protect your employees and your business, you need to make sure everyone working for you is on the same page. Invest in regular cybersecurity training methods to keep your employees up to date with the best practices and to remind them of the importance of protecting themselves both at work and at home.
2. Improve Security for Users
Everyone should use strong, complex passwords. This applies to you, your employees, and even your customers. Having a set requirement for your customers, for example, at least one capital, number, and symbol, can encourage them to practice better password safety.
Creating locked down areas of use is also a good step towards cybersecurity. Your employees should only be able to access the data that they need and not anything else, so create unique passwords for users so that one employee’s credentials being stolen is not the end of your business.
3. Invest in High-Quality IT Services
You cannot rely on one low-level IT specialist. You need a team. One in-house specialist can help keep things running if that is all you can afford regularly, but always have an outsourced team ready to assist in the event of an emergency.
4. Invest in A Cyber Security Analyst
On top of your IT specialist, who will work to keep your system functioning and bug-free for your users and customers, you also need a cybersecurity analyst. These analysts work to find and fix weak points in your system and are invaluable for staying on top of the latest cybercrime strategies. When looking to hire, make sure they have an education in their field from one of the top courses in the world, like this Edith Cowan University online degree. The format doesn’t matter, just that they learned from top experts in a world-leading course on cybersecurity, like this program from Edith Cowan University Online.
5. Keep Systems Updated
One key weak point both in personal computers and in businesses are old software programs. They are still connected to your system, but they are not being updated, nor are they providing the same level of protection that the rest of your system is. You need to either delete and uninstall these old, outdated systems or make sure you update them to the latest version to benefit from security updates and new features.
6. Back-Up Data and Use the Cloud
Cloud computing is a great way to improve your security. Cloud accounts, after all, are not backed up on just one server, but on multiple servers on different continents. This makes data “redundant,” meaning that if one server were to go down, your data is still safe.
Though cloud computing can be a safer option, it is not perfect. You need to go through the effort of improving security on your side to keep a lid on your data. This means training your employees, restricting access, and of course, working to protect all endpoints that have access to your cloud account.
7. Have a Contingency Plan
Even the biggest tech companies and governments in the world have been hacked. It is only a matter of time when it will happen to you. To protect yourself, you must have a contingency plan in place, for example, by backing up essential data offline. Work with your cybersecurity analyst to put together a solid contingency plan to help you continue to operate even after an attack.
Cybercrime is a severe threat that costs companies thousands. You must invest in cybersecurity now and for the future because while cybercriminals are one step behind, they can easily catch up if you are not always vigilant.