No one is immune to cybercrime, and small businesses are especially vulnerable. Yet many small business owners don’t take the necessary steps to protect their businesses from hackers and data breaches. Why is cyber security so important for small businesses? And what can you do to protect your company? In this blog post, we’ll explain the cyber security basics along with the impacts of cybercrime and the benefits of cyber security measures.
What is cyber security?
Cyber security refers to the body of technologies, processes and practices designed to protect networks, computers, programs and data from various types of cyber attacks, damage or unauthorised access.
Attackers (or threat actors) are improving their attack tactics with changing pace of the technology. This includes advances in the TTP (Tactics, Techniques, procedures) such as social engineering threat vectors, and artificial intelligence (AI) use to trick users and bypass security controls.
In a data security breach, sensitive information such as social security numbers, bank account information, employees and customer personal information may be accessed, corrupted or stolen. cyber attacks can come from a variety of sources, including hackers, viruses, spyware and cyber-criminal organizations. With increasing cyber security threats, cyber security is a growing concern for businesses and individuals alike.
To protect against cyber attacks, experts recommend a combination of technical defenses, such as firewall protection and encryption, as well as non-technical measures such as stringent processes and employee training and awareness.
Feel free to watch this video containing a condensed version of the article.
How do you think digital access impacts various areas of cybersecurity?
Fundamentally, digital access is enabling someone to be part of the digital society. The core principles of information security i.e. confidentiality, integrity and availability are the areas of impact when it comes to ensuring safe and secure digital access for businesses and various elements of modern-day society.
The Compromise of one or all three basic tenets of information security are disastrous and has a significant impact in our increasingly digital world.
- Confidentiality is the principle that ensures that only authorized individuals have access to information.
- Integrity is the principle that ensures that information is accurate and complete.
- Availability is the principle that ensures that information is accessible to authorized individuals when needed.
Why is cyber security important?
For businesses, the importance of cyber security cannot be understated. Cyber security is important for a variety of reasons. To understand why Internet security is important for modern-day society, we need to look at a number of basic factors such as:
- How do we access the information?
- Where is this information stored and processed?
- Why is this information important?
- What could happen if it falls into wrong hands?
- Rising costs of cybercrime
Internet security entails any activity aimed at protecting the information and resources of an organization from unauthorized access or misuse. Data security, on the other hand, is the practice of protecting data from unauthorized access, use, modification, or destruction. The main goal of cyber security is to keep data safe from cyber attacks and protect networks and devices from being compromised by analysing various cyber threats.
Importance of cyber security in the digital world
In the modern world, our reliance on computer systems and devices is increasing. We use them for everything from communication and networking to banking and shopping. This increasing reliance means that information processed or stored across the systems is a valuable commodity. For cyber criminals, this information can be used for identity theft, fraud, social engineering attacks or other malicious activity.
In addition to the personal implications of a cyber attack, there is also the potential for business interruption and financial loss. A successful cyber attack can result in the loss of customers, staff or partners, as well as the destruction of sensitive data.
The introduction of privacy regulations by governments has helped shine a light on the importance of cyber security. GDPR in Europe and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are two such regulations. A data breach can have severe consequences under these regulations, including fines of up to 4% of global annual revenue or 20 million Euros, whichever is greater.
To respect the individual’s privacy, businesses must demonstrate the implementation of appropriate security controls, require user consent, and communicate the loss of information/data breaches when they occur.
A cyber attack can have a number of negative consequences, including:
- Theft or loss of data (sensitive data, intellectual data, customer data, staff data)
- Disruption to business operations
- Damage to reputation
- Regulatory penalties or fines such as GDPR, CCPA fines
Impact of cybercrime
Cybercrime is a criminal activity that is conducted using a computer or a network. The activities can be broadly divided into two categories: crimes that are carried out online, and crimes that are facilitated by the use of technology.
The global economy of cybercrime is estimated to be worth $10.5 trillion by 2025. Cybercrime doesn’t just have detrimental effects on companies, it can also have a significant impact on individuals.
One of the impacts of cybercrime is operational disruption. This happens when the systems or networks that an organization uses to conduct its business are compromised or disrupted. The result is usually a loss of productivity and, in some cases, a complete shutdown of operations.
Cybercrime can have a significant impact on an organization’s reputation resulting in longer-term damage. This is because the public is increasingly aware of the risks associated with sharing personal data online. As a result, they are more likely to trust companies that have a good network security posture and are proactive about protecting their customer data.
With governments all around the globe tightening the noose on citizens’ privacy, companies are struggling to keep up. The regulatory landscape is constantly changing, and companies that don’t have a solid cyber security posture are at risk of incurring significant costs.
Fines for data breaches under GDPR can be as high as 4% of global annual revenue or 20 million Euros, whichever is greater. In addition, companies may also be required to make significant changes to their business practices in order to comply with new regulations. Under UK GDPR, British businesses have to adhere to similar rules.
Another impact of cybercrime is financial loss. This can happen in a number of ways, including:
- Theft of money or assets
- Fraudulent charges
- Loss of revenue due to operational disruptions
- Damage to property or equipment
As well as the impacts on businesses, cybercrime can also have a number of negative consequences for individuals. These can include
- Identity theft
- Invasion of privacy
The bottom line is that cyber security is important because it helps protect businesses and individuals from the damaging effects of cybercrime. By implementing appropriate security controls, businesses can limit the impact of a successful cyber attack and avoid costly regulatory penalties.
What are the benefits of cyber security?
Cyber security is more important than ever for businesses of all sizes. Here are some of the top benefits of investing in cyber security:
1. Prevent data breaches
A data breach can be devastating for a business, leading to costly repairs, loss of customers, and damage to reputation. By investing in information security, businesses can help to protect themselves against data breaches.
2. Protect customer data
Customer data is a valuable asset for businesses, and it is essential to keep this data safe. By investing in cyber security, businesses can help to protect customer data from cyber attacks.
3. Defend against cyber attacks
Cyber attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, and they can have a serious impact on businesses. By investing in cyber security, businesses can help to defend against cyber attacks and protect their systems and data.
4. Improve customer confidence
Customers are increasingly concerned about cyber security, and they may not do business with companies that they perceive as being vulnerable to cyber attacks. By investing in information security, businesses can help to improve customer confidence and build trust.
5. Stay compliant with regulations
Many industries are subject to regulations around cyber security, and these regulations are becoming more stringent. By investing in network security , businesses can help to ensure that they are compliant with these regulations.
How can businesses protect themselves from cybercrime?
While cybercrime is a threat to all businesses, small businesses are particularly vulnerable. They often lack the resources to invest in cyber security and they may be less likely to have cyber insurance. As a result, it is essential for small businesses to take steps to protect themselves from cybercrime. The following are some of the most effective measures:
Invest in cyber security
This includes both technical measures, such as firewalls and malware protection, and non-technical measures, such as employee training. Cyber security strategy is the critical element behind strong security architecture and implementation of other good principles such as network segmentation, the principle of least privilege.
Know your data
Identify data based on the classification system and determine what level of security it requires. After data classification, it is important to ensure there are relevant policies in place that explain how to handle that data.
Know your unknowns
Risk management is all about reducing the probability of futuristic events by identifying potential threats and vulnerabilities. The first step in any effective cyber security strategy is, therefore, to know what data you have, where it is located and how it is being used. You can’t protect what you don’t know exists, so this is a crucial first step.
Conduct penetration testing exercises such as internal penetration testing, web application security testing, cloud penetration testing and the like to know weaknesses in your security defences. By analysing your implementations, you can improve and plan future investments into information systems/IT, operations, people and the processes keeping it all together.
Be alert for phishing attacks
Phishing is a type of cyberattack that involves fraudulent emails or other communications that appear to come from a legitimate source. Be suspicious of any unexpected emails or requests for personal information and verify the sender before responding.
This social engineering attack vector could take the form of spear phishing, whaling, Business Email Compromise and another form of attacks.
10 steps to cyber security by NCSC is a great starting point that ensures coverage across an organisation through best practices.
The frequently changing nature of IT security threats and risks makes it the most difficult for many organisations to cope with the proactive security approach. Also, a lot of personal information, sensitive data and assets need continuous protection from identity theft and misuse. Thus, often it becomes tough for the organisation to defend against known-unknown information technology threats and zero-day vulnerabilities.
Small businesses are particularly vulnerable to cybercrime, and it is essential for them to take steps to protect themselves. The measures listed above are some of the most effective ways to do this. Cybersecurity is important not just for national security, but also because many critical infrastructure systems are vulnerable to cyber-attacks. By strengthening cyber security, we can help to protect these systems and keep our staff, customers and businesses safe.
Businesses are increasingly becoming the target of cybercrime, with devastating effects. However, there are steps that businesses can take to protect themselves from these attacks.
By investing in a trusted security services partner like Cyphere, you can assess your controls, and improve your IT and security strategy for the foreseeable future.
Arrange a short chat to discuss your concerns and your security roadmap to see if we are a good fit for each other.
Shahrukh, is a passionate cyber security analyst and researcher who loves to write technical blogs on different cyber security topics. He holds a Masters degree in Information Security, an OSCP and has a strong technical skillset in offensive security.