Cybersecurity has become the number one concern as many businesses have been seeing a huge uptick in ransomware attacks, phishing attacks, and other threats. Gone are the days where a business can rely on having antivirus alone; the reality is the weakest link in your data security is your team. Read on to learn more about the biggest threat to your business’ cybersecurity.
When thinking about protecting your business from a cyberattack, it’s understandable to be confused about which area of defense you should focus on. It’s easy to get overconfident in your IT security investments (i.e. your firewall, your antivirus, etc.) to believe your business and data would always be safe. The problem with such thinking is that it, unfortunately, forgets about the most significant resource your business relies on: your team members.
One recent security report noted the 93% of all data breaches were traced back to a team member making a mistake. The mistake of visiting a compromised website, clicking on a malicious link, or downloading an executable file. None of which requires malice of forethought, just a mistake, but one that can have devastating repercussions for your business.
For example, a Sioux Falls woman was the victim of an online scam, which resulted in the loss of $40,000. The scam, which was conducted via the HangOut app, requested that the victim deposit $40,000 to invest into a ranch in California, promising a return on that investment. The victim did so and received a check for $84,000 as a dividend from her initial investment. When the victim attempted to deposit the check at her bank, she was informed that the check wasn’t valid.
While it may be easy to mock the victim for being gullible (or greedy), the reality is this scenario is repeated thousands of times a day. Whether via email, text, or even phone calls, someone will click, download or share sensitive information.
Why should you care?
You should care because these people don’t exist in a vacuum. They have jobs, and most likely, many of them work at small to medium-sized businesses like yours and have access to your business’ sensitive information. Information they may be scammed into sharing.
One method to reduce the effect of human error on your business regarding cybersecurity is by giving your team the tools to be a part of the solution and not the problem. The most important tool you can give your team is the ability to be aware of a cyberthreat before it has a chance to root into your systems.
As cybercriminals create more sophisticated cyber 'traps' for your team to fall into, you must give your team the training to recognize when an attack targets them. Your team is your organization's first line of defense, and your business needs to invest as many resources into them as you do in your hardware and software. If you want to have any hope of keeping your business safe from a cyberattack and the resulting loss of your data, cybersecurity training must be a priority.
While training your employees increases your cybersecurity protection level, human error will still exist, albeit at lower levels due to training your team. Yet, mistakes may still be made, oftentimes due to circumstances beyond your control, such as the security practices of third-party vendors.
If you've followed recent news about cybersecurity attacks, you will note that many of them were made possible due to a third-party vendor's credentials being compromised, not the actual business'. The breach of the third-party vendor allowed the cybercriminal to gain access to the organization they wanted to target but whose in-house security protocols were too difficult to gain access to.
The most effective way to protect your business' data is by covering all the bases. Training can help in reducing a cybercriminal's attempt to grab "low-hanging" fruit by using relatively low-risk social engineering tactics such as phishing to gain access to your network. However, training will not be useful if you've never invested the resources to close any pre-existing vulnerabilities in your system. These holes can allow a bad actor to access your network by taking advantage of the doors you may have left unlocked. Some ways to further buttress your security include:
Remove or update unpatched or out-of-date software: Are you one of the many businesses still using Windows 7? If so, you are using unsupported EOL (end of life) software, which threatens your data security. Moreover, if you're required to be HIPAA compliant, by default, your remaining Windows 7 installs place your organization out of HIPAA compliance.
Is your team using IoT devices in the office, devices such as smartwatches or fitness trackers? Do you know if their firmware is current or can even be updated? If not, then your network could be at risk due to unpatched devices. These devices can allow a bad actor to access your network and, therefore, your data. In 2017, researchers found 47 vulnerabilities in 23 internet-of-things devices; as IoT devices have grown exponentially, we can only imagine the number of vulnerable devices in use today.
Invest in a Cybersecurity Audit: Bad actors are always looking for weaknesses in your system to exploit. All it takes is one opening for them to come rushing in and compromise your security. Many businesses assume that if they have a firewall, and maybe 2FA, they're safe. However, a well-developed cybersecurity plan requires comprehensive planning and shouldn't be created piecemeal. A cybersecurity audit will probe your system for vulnerabilities and help your business close any existing holes. It should be one of the first steps in ensuring your data is protected.
When you develop security protocols within a framework and with an objective in mind, there is a high probability that you won't have missed anything and inadvertently left an opening for a cyberattacker to get through. For example, are all of your teams using 2FA everywhere? Do you have a BYOD policy in place? Is your router configured correctly? Do you have a UTM (Unified Threat Management) device? How you implement the rollout of your cybersecurity protocols, in the beginning, can have a profound effect on your system's resistance to an attack in the long term.
Have a Data Backup and Recovery Plan: While training your team and investing the cybersecurity tools are critical to protecting your sensitive information, the reality is they are not 100 percent effective; people make mistakes and devices fail. The only real defense against a cybersecurity threat whether it is successful or not is a backup which is not only current and up-to-date, but recoverable.
Your data backup and recovery plan are essential if you want to have a well-defined and effective cybersecurity plan in place. A BDR is designed to grant your business the ability to recover from any disaster, natural or man-made. Without a BDR, your business is operating at a disadvantage regarding cybersecurity AND in its ability to survive a loss of data. Your backup and recovery plan is insurance against any mistakes your team may make and is insurance for your business’ future, but only if you make the investment.
Cybercriminals are very effective at getting the data they want and they will always target what they consider to be the weakest link. As we have seen, whether it’s a mom and pop business or enterprise-level organizations, the most common factor in the majority of successful cyberattacks have been the actions of team members. Neither training or technology alone can protect your data. It is only when your business develops a comprehensive cybersecurity plan, taking advantage of all the tools available that your data will be secure.
KT Connections offers a wide-range of cybersecurity tools which provide small to medium-sized business with enterprise-level IT security solutions designed from the ground up. Call 888-891-4201 today to schedule a free cybersecurity assessment. Let’s protect your business!
Join us for our Cybersecurity Webinar on: Feb 18, 2021 10:00 AM Mountain Time (US and Canada). Register here: https://ktconnections.com/cybersecurity-webinar