As a society, we live in a digital world increasingly reliant on IT to innovate industries such as communications, transportation, government, finance, medicine and education. So much of our personal information is stored within our computers and transmitted online to external systems worldwide. Now the question which many businesses are asking is “How secure is my data?” Cyber security is the process of protecting the systems, networks and programs we use to prevent digital attacks. Due to our large digital footprint, cyber security should now be an important talking point for companies. We must protect and secure our data on the systems we use every day, or risk serious consequences.
WHY IS CYBER SECURITY IMPORTANT?
Verizon analysed data from 29,307 incidents and found that there were a total of 5,258 confirmed cyber-attacks within 16 different industries on four continents. The increasing level of sophistication and uptake for cybercrimes such as phishing and ransomware is a sign that companies must be very proactive in securing their information and the systems they use.
In addition, thousands of malicious websites are waiting online to infect unprotected computers connected to the internet. The total cost of cyber-attacks for the Irish economy was €9.6bn in 2021. New cyber-attack methods are continuously being developed and launched, highlighting the importance of information security as an essential function to protect company data and systems.
WHAT ARE THE RISKS
There are many risks resulting from cyber-attacks, and financial loss is not the only determining reason why this issue should be taken seriously. Post-pandemic, the lockdowns caused by Covid-19 illustrated how businesses could be affected by cyber security incidents. With working from home becoming a government mandate for most offices, many companies became much more vulnerable to cyber-attack as they lacked the security controls they would have within their internal office IT infrastructure.
Furthermore, this lack of security controls coupled with a large number of malicious threat actors exposed companies’ vulnerabilities due to their employees working from home. Last year, the world witnessed unprecedented numbers of global cyber security incidents, not least the record-breaking denial-of-service (DDoS) of Cloudflare that propagated dozens of attacks peaking at over 1 Tbps.
In the private sphere, the business impact of cyber-attacks has included server outages, leading to massive financial losses and creating excessive workloads and stress on IT staff. And finally, looking at critical services in the public arena such as healthcare, cyber security risks are catastrophic, as we saw with the HSE IT systems shut down in 2021, which led to problems accessing medical records, cancellations of appointments and national disruption to healthcare services.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Understanding the risks involved with storing and transmitting data is essential to helping secure business information and systems. Below are five tips to help you better educate your teams on cyber risks.
- Establish a culture of cyber security
Make sure your employees understand why cyber security is important and the potential impact a cyber-attack can have. A company needs to embed IT security and data protection into its business culture. Whether the company is big or small, establishing a risk culture means they are aware of all the potential consequences they may be facing. Then, implement a comprehensive security strategy to protect your data and reputation, limit threats, and reduce cyber risks.
- Involve everyone
Human error is responsible for nine out of ten security incidents, and often these are well-meaning employees who have fallen prey to cyber-criminals. From marketing to finance, all departments and functions should be concerned with IT security, as an employee could easily be the victim of phishing. This means it’s essential to involve all your employees in cyber security, not just the IT department. Adjust your cyber security policy according to your employees’ needs and implement best practices to eradicate risky behaviour.
- Regularly train employees on IT good practice
Make it compulsory for all of your employees to participate in information security training. This must be based on concrete examples so that your employees can better understand the dangers they may be facing. It’s essential to regularly remind your employees to be vigilant because cybercriminals can strike at any time. Communicate periodically by highlighting the various cyber risks, providing practical advice to protect yourself against them, and sharing the procedures to be followed in the event of an attack. Promote cyber-prudence by providing timely information on the appearance of new fraudulent attack types.
- Inform employees
When you onboard and welcome new employees to your company, provide them with literature that details your company’s internal procedures and rules, and your IT charter. Make sure that your recruit is familiar with this document by signing it when they take up their new post.
- Organise cyber risk drills
To raise your teams’ awareness of cyber risks and to test the level of security of your IT infrastructure, you can organise cyber-attack simulation drills. Nothing beats training in real conditions to prepare for the diverse cyber threats that face your business. When dealing with cyber threats, the key is anticipation, so this type of exercise makes it possible to assess the security measures implemented in your company, check your employees’ reactions and digital reflexes, and learn how to manage potential damage.
With practice, you and your teams will develop skills, reflexes and methods that allow you to react better and work effectively together. You will then be ready when a cyber-attack occurs. To help you, use this guide “Insert reputable guide here” from “insert reputable leader here”.
Following these five tips to educate your employees about cyber risks can help your company as part of a long term strategy. Championing vigilance, identifying and securing your weak points and training your employees on risk is key to mitigating cyber-attacks.
Radiata supports companies by providing them access to industry-leading cybersecurity experts dedicated to helping companies keep their data safe and secure. To learn more about these security solutions, contact us today.