In 2019, there is a thriving criminal industry that any wired-in wrongdoer would be silly not to delve into — cyber attacks on small to medium businesses. And if you’re one of the 86% of small business owners that don’t see the need to protect yourself from cyber criminals, well, you might not be in good company.
64% of companies have experienced the damaging effects of a cyber attack, and 43% of cyber attacks globally are done to small businesses. It’s an ever-growing threat, and shows no signs of slowing down.
If you are still unprotected from an unfortunately probable attack on your business’s valuable data, we’d like to give you the 2019 run-down on the current cyber-threats you face, and how to protect yourself from them.
How Cyber Security Threats Can Damage Your Business
Firstly, given that it’s our job to protect businesses from data loss, it’s always quite concerning to read statistics like the ones we’ve just listed. It seems that many businesses don’t understand the magnitude of threat cyber attacks can have on their bottom line.
In 2017, data took over oil as the world’s most valuable commodity. So it should come as little surprise that breaching the databases of systems world-wide is an incredibly lucrative and appealing prospect for criminals.
Let’s do a very quick summary of what exactly that could mean for your business if you are one of the majority of companies that experience a cyber attack.
The first and most obvious loss for your business is money, so seriously in fact that 60% of small businesses that experience a cyber attack will go out of business within six months.
The reason that this happens is pretty simple. No matter the cause of the cyber attack, just imagine what would happen if your intellectual property, financial records, or customer databases disappeared. You would effectively have to start again, all the while having the same overheads as you had before the attack.
After a cyber attack, you would need to spend an unacceptable amount of time investigating the cyber attack, trying to retrieve data, and dealing with lawyers.
It’s not just the cost of those things, but the time it takes away from your core responsibilities of running your business.
If your customers find out your systems have been attacked, or even worse, that their personal details were leaked, you could take an irreparable hit to your reputation. So much so, that 87% of customers say they would take their business elsewhere if a data breach happened to a company.
2019 Cyber Security Threats That Could Affect Your Business
Your Mobile Device Might Make You Vulnerable
A mobile device (or two) is a key and essentially unavoidable component of running a successful, efficient business. You can basically operate every aspect of your business from a mobile device from banking, to emails, to booking flights.
That crucial work device no doubt spills into your personal life, whether it be for social media or a quick game while you commute. It’s by your side almost 24/7 and so it has become a favourite target to exploit for those who want to steal your data.
In 2019, 70% of fraudulent transactions have come through mobile devices. Even your unassuming non-business related apps are a risk, as fraudulent activity through apps has gone up a whopping 680% since 2015.
Phishing Attacks Are Evolving
If you’re not in the know (and we don’t blame you), phishing is when a hacker sends you some sort of message (usually email) pretending to be a trusted organisation, asking for your log-in details or financial information. If it’s convincing, you might be mislead to providing them with that information. From there the hacker can steal your data and use it for their monetary gain.
In 2019, phishing is still the most probable cause of data breaches. It’s incredibly effective because the hacker can basically send out 10,000 emails pretending to be a trusted entity, and just play the numbers game that a certain percentage of people will take the bait.
Phishing in 2019 is now diversifying from emails to things like SMS texting attacks (delightfully called ‘smishing’), phone calls from an actual person, LinkedIn invites, and other social media activity.
Basically, phishing will continue to infiltrate all aspects of our online lives, to the point where you might not feel you can trust anyone or any website. It’s a bleak threat, but we’ll give you some tips on how to avoid phishing soon.
Ransomware on the Rise for Enterprise
Ransomware is a kind of software that you accidentally download through phishing, or visiting an up-to-no-good website. You don’t choose to download this software, rather you are tricked into it.
While ransomware attacks on general consumers are down in 2019, unfortunately attackers seem to have shifted their attention to install ransomware on enterprise/business devices and networks.
You can certainly see the attackers’ logic, as your business has a lot more valuable information than say, your elderly next door neighbour for example.
Once the ransomware infects your company computer/mobile device, they could have access to everything from your customer database, to finances, to your intellectual property. They can then effectively hold that data to ransom, and if you don’t pay that ransom, the attackers can threaten to destroy it, sell it, or make it public. All options can be devastating to any business.
Cyber Attack Security and Protection Trends in 2019
While the ways in which criminals can hack your data is ever-growing, so too are the strategies to combat them. Cyber Security is an industry that has been forced to rapidly expand and adapt every year to combat the evolving cyber hacking community.
Let’s have a look at some of the ways that cyber security and protection will step up in 2019 to defeat cyber hackers.
Cyber Security Automation
Automation is the next step in cyber security, and unlike traditional anti-virus software etc, it effectively creates an umbrella of protection for your entire network. Cyber security automation can:
- Keep track of all the software and hardware assets on your network.
- Make sure that all of those assets have the latest security updates.
- Continuously perform vulnerability tests to ensure your network is not vulnerable to attack.
- Remove or temporarily block any device or piece of software that looks like a threat.
While effective, like most new technologies, cyber security automation requires considerable training and skill to keep it operational. Over time, with economies of scale, it will become more accessible.
An Emphasis on Privacy
This trend is on the other side of the cyber security coin, and that’s protecting your customers from cyber threats.
In 2018, the European Union introduced its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was designed to ensure better data security to protect consumers and citizens in general. This has forced companies, including small to medium businesses, to reassess the way they collect data from their customers.
Businesses of all types will need to think about:
- Making sure your systems are compliant with GDPR (e.g. informing your website visitors if you collect cookies).
- Using encryption to protect your customers’ data.
- Telling your customers that their data is or maybe shared.
- Giving your customers the option to not have their data being shared.
More Investment in Cyber Security
Global investestment in cyber security for 2019 will increase 9.4% to $103 billion, compared to 2019. This is just a simple reflection of the growing threat of cyber attacks to all forms of organisations, regardless or location or purpose.
Spending is expected to increase for the years to come to continue to combat cyber attacks worldwide.
How You Elevate Your Business’s Cyber Security Posture
There are quite a few measures that you can undertake yourself to help make sure that your business does not fall victim to a cyber security attack.
- Train yourself and your staff roughly every 90 days about current cyber threats to the business.
- Use multi factor authentication that requires that staff provide two forms of proof that they are authorised to log in.
- Install and keep up to date cyber analytics tools, anti-virus software, and firewalls.
- Conduct regular vulnerability tests on your network.
- Limit access to sensitive information.
- Limit or even ban the use of USB drives on business devices.
- Make daily backups for your data that can be accessed independent of your network.
Now while all of those things will be effective, you may not have the time nor the inclination to undertake those protective measures yourself.
If that’s the case we recommend you talk to a trusted IT solutions provider that can take care of your cyber security for you. On top of the services we’ve just listed, they will be able to create a cloud storage systems that automatically creates a safe backup for every piece of your data.
This way, if you are attacked, not only can you be warned much earlier, your business will be able to maintain operational despite the attack. It could be the difference between a simple annoyance, and the end of your business.
Happily, it really doesn’t have to cost you that much to protect your business from cyber attacks. Because cyber attacks are so common these days, the cyber protection industry is not only ruthlessly efficient, but affordable too.