A Guide to Cyber Security for Businesses
A Guide to Cyber Security for Businesses, Fabric
Cyber security—what is it?
As a business, you probably know you need cyber security. In fact, you may even have cyber security tools already in place—but just how effective are they? And how much is enough?
Shockingly, a cyber-attack occurs every 39 seconds. That means by the time you’ve read this introduction, a cybercriminal will have attacked a system somewhere. It only takes them a few minutes to track down the information they need, so just imagine what these criminals could steal from your business in that time. Could they take employees’ names and addresses? Your business’ quarterly financials? Your customers’ confidential business plans?
With data breaches on the rise, it’s crucial that businesses like yours take necessary steps to secure the data you hold.
What is cyber security?
Cyber security refers to the infrastructure and processes used to protect your company’s technology from any malicious activity. This infrastructure includes email accounts, company-owned devices, hard drives, customer and employee data, as well as your network.
While cyber security mostly relates to IT software and hardware, it also extends to non-technology practices, such as employee training. You’ll want to equip your employees with the tools and awareness to identify cyber threats, so that there’s less chance of them (and your business) falling victim to attacks.
Why is cyber security important for a business?
Typically, companies hold significant amounts of data relating to their business, employees, and customers. While not all this information is sensitive, much of it is.
If any of this information is leaked or stolen, it could have severe consequences for your business, and your employees. Just one unsafe link has the potential to harm your entire business.
Some of the most damaging consequences include:
- Economic costs: Cyber-attacks can lead to theft of your systems, assets, and important company information. You’ll also incur costs due to downtime because of limited access to systems and repairs to infrastructure.
- Legal fines: Depending on the type of cyber threat, you may have to pay legal fines due to breaching cyber security and data protection laws.
- Reputational damage: Following a cyber-attack, it’s likely you’ll face reputational damage. This could affect customer trust and their willingness to hand over personal details to you.
Therefore, to protect yourself and the people whose information you hold, cyber security is not only necessary, but crucial to your business.
Which businesses need cyber security?
It’s a mistake to think only larger businesses housing huge amounts of data need adequate cyber security tools. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter if your business has 2 or 200 employees—if you rely on computer systems to carry out day-to-day work, then you need cyber security tools in place.
Actually, many small businesses are even more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. In comparison to larger businesses, small organisations with less than 100 employees are three times more likely to be targeted by cybercriminals due to weaker cyber security measures and easier access to systems.
Types of cyber security threats
Cybercriminals are clever. They’ll try different tactics to get hold of your information, whether that’s targeting specific employees with suspicious-looking emails, finding a flaw in your network to gain access, or installing harmful software on your systems. So, being aware of the different threats you face is the first step to protecting your systems from malicious attacks.
Generally, attacks are grouped into three types of cyber security threats, each with different motivations:
- Cyber-crime: Involves a single individual or group of people that target your systems to gain access and disrupt your network, usually for financial gain.
- Cyber-attack: Hackers attack your network to gain access to confidential information, usually when attempting to blackmail or stealing someone’s identity.
- Cyber-terrorism: Cybercriminals gain control of your network and systems, using their power to blackmail you into giving them money, information, or other valuable data.
There are a number of different attacks that hackers use to threaten cyber-security:
Malware is malicious software that’s installed onto your systems so that a hacker can gain unauthorised access. Typically, this includes ransomware, trojans, worms, viruses, and spyware. In some cases, hackers can gain complete control over your entire network from just one harmful download.
Ransomware is a type of malware that locks data away and makes it inaccessible for your business. Usually, hackers blackmail you into paying them a fee so you can regain access. They may threaten to delete files or share them publicly unless you pay the ransom fee.
Did you know that 90% of cyber-attacks on business come via phishing emails? These emails are very convincing and sometimes look like they’ve come from legitimate sources, which means employees are often falling prey to them. However, phishing emails are riddled with harmful links and downloads that can install damaging malware onto your devices and network. Some emails also encourage recipients to enter their personal details onto a fake website.
Man-in-the-middle attacks happen when a cybercriminal intercepts traffic between two recipients, usually to steal important data. For example, interrupting traffic between an employee’s work phone and an unsecured public WiFi network.
Like phishing, social engineering is a way of encouraging someone to take action. This threat usually involves building trust between a hacker and an individual, before convincing them to hand over their personal details, banking information, passwords, and other sensitive data.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS)
In DDoS attacks, hackers flood your network with traffic to overwhelm your system. As a result, it makes your network inaccessible to anyone but the hacker, giving them complete control over your systems and all-important data.
Cyber security measures
Cyber threats can leave lasting, damaging effects, so knowing how to protect your company from cyber-attacks is crucial.
Thankfully, there are plenty of cyber security tools that your business can adopt to keep tricksters out of your network and systems. At Fabric IT, our cyber security solutions are tailored to your organisation—from network protection and firewalls to employee training and awareness.
Let’s discuss this in more detail.
Endpoint security involves security infrastructure used to protect company-owned devices, such as mobiles, desktops, and laptops. It monitors traffic to and from devices to immediately block any malicious attacks and keep your devices secure. However, endpoint security also relies on the actions of employees to protect their devices from cyber threats.
Network security combines hardware and software, such as email gateways, firewalls, and access control to target threats, stopping them from entering your network. It ensures only authorised users can access your network.
Firewalls work by monitoring all traffic entering and leaving your network, ensuring only legitimate traffic gets through. Effective firewalls will block any suspicious activity and a wide variety of threats, including trojans, botnets, and DDoS attacks.
Cloud backup services allow you to store backups of important data and documents in the cloud, which can be securely accessed at any time. This is important if you fall victim to a cyber-attack that erases or steals data. Fabric IT’s Azure Backup service integrates with your platform to make data easier to access, while protecting you from ransomware and human error.
Having a disaster recovery plan ensures you know which data needs to be protected in the event of a breach, what action to take to recover your data, and defines important roles and responsibilities.
Without a disaster recovery plan, it can take your business longer to rectify a breach and recover your systems, which means you may incur further costs.
Cyber security for businesses also means educating your staff on cyber-attacks and providing them with the tools to respond to threats. Every employee should understand your company’s policies and procedures in relation to avoiding and responding to malicious attempts.
Managing your business’ cyber security
While there are many cyber security measures that can help safeguard your business from threats, there are also some basic cyber standards that every company must follow. After all, there’s no use investing in malware-blocking systems if your employees are using weak passwords, clicking on suspicious links, and working with unsecured devices.
Follow these top cyber security standards for businesses:
- Make sure to update your systems regularly, so they always have the latest software installed.
- Use anti-virus software to monitor your devices and network, so that it can easily detect and block threats.
- Educate your employees on identifying phishing emails, and make sure they know not to click on suspicious links and attachments.
- Enforce password best practices across your organisation—use strong passwords, change them regularly, and avoid reusing old ones.
- Ensure all employees know only to connect to secure networks and avoid public WiFi—this is especially important for remote workers.
- Identify clear lines of communication across your business, so employees know who to contact if a threat arises.
- Consider obtaining a Cyber Essentials certification, to ensure you meet the required security controls.
Building a cyber security plan
Cyber security goes beyond installing IT software for your company devices. To sufficiently protect your company from cyber-attacks, you need to create a cyber security plan.
Firstly, you should perform a cyber security audit to determine what information and assets you have, identify threats and vulnerabilities, and establish an appropriate action plan.
Follow this step-by-step process to build your cyber security plan:
- Identify and document all hardware, software, and information you own, including all user permissions.
- Analyse your documented list to review if all programs are necessary, whether any permissions should be revoked, which systems need updating, and so forth.
- Determine which cyber threats are most important for your business.
- Establish which cyber security tools you’ll use to safeguard your business from attacks and how these will work.
- Create a disaster recovery plan with clear roles and responsibilities, should a cyber-attack occur.
- Communicate your plan effectively to all employees.
Knowing how to prevent cyber-attacks on your business can be tricky, especially if you’re not so sure which tools to use, what threats your business faces, or where vulnerabilities lie.
That’s why Fabric IT works with you to establish an effective cyber security plan. As part of our cyber security assessment, we’ll review all of your processes, programs, and applications to identify weaknesses and ensure the right protocols are in place.
What is the benefit of cyber security?
With effective cyber security procedures, you can ensure your business is equipped to prevent and respond to potential threats. However, there are plenty of other benefits. Cyber security practices also increase employee productivity, thanks to more efficient devices and less downtime. It’s also likely you’ll instil more confidence in your customers, who place their trust in you to look after their information.
Remember, even if just one document falls into the wrong hands, or one employee clicks a suspicious link, it could have drastic consequences. If there’s one thing your business can’t compromise on, it’s cyber security.
Now you know why cyber security is important for business, it’s time to act. See how Fabric IT could help your business, with expert advice and IT solutions tailored to your cyber security needs.