Cybercriminals extorted an estimated $6 trillion dollars from businesses and individuals in 2021. Indeed, if measured in economic terms, cybercrime would be the third largest economy in the world after the US and China writes Bruce Skinner, CEO of Alto.
These sobering statistics are a stark reminder that cybercrime is no longer a lone hacker sitting at a computer terminal sending automated, virus-laden messages in the middle of the night. Cybercrime is big business, run as slick and professional operations by extensive and capable teams. They succeed by deploying humans armed with the very latest technology in the never-ending battle for data. For cybercriminals, data means power – financial and otherwise.
So how do you protect your business when technology is wielded as a weapon and how do you prioritise the health and safety of your data? The answer, of course, starts with people. People are one of the greatest assets any organisation can have and this is particularly true when it comes to cybersecurity. But people can also represent the biggest potential risk to a business’s cybersecurity, if their knowledge and training isn’t up to scratch.
In simple terms, cybersecurity is any action taken to protect your company data, personal and sensitive information which is stored online, on a server or in the cloud so it’s imperative to remember that, whilst the threat cannot be seen, the effects may be all too visible if a business falls victim to attack. Worryingly, it can take over 100 days for a cyber threat to be noticed within a business and, by then, it’s often too late. Lost and/or corrupt data which has been raked over, operational downtime, reputational damage – the list of headaches is long, and each factor has time-consuming and far-reaching implications.
Email systems remain the most common method of entry for cybercriminals and many methods of attack come with familiar names such as hacking (where people or automated systems try to access a system by any means possible) and phishing (sending deceptive emails which aim to lure the recipient into divulging data for the hacker to use). Others include data breaches or identity theft, cases of which have risen by a reported 160% since 2019, and malware (malicious software) which is designed to disrupt, damage or spy on a system to build up a picture of a person’s habits or online activity.
Front and centre of the primary line of any company’s defence is, again, people but they can only mount that defence if they too have the best weapons for the job. Among these should be tools such as intuitive training where safe, fake emails can be sent to test staff vigilance and, if the recipient takes the wrong action, immediate training is offered on how to spot a potentially hazardous email in future. There are many options out there for training. If you use Microsoft 365, some of the packages contain Microsoft 365 defender, with intuitive training included in the cost.
So, whilst data may be revered as power by cybercriminals, knowledge is power in the fight against them. Business life has moved on far beyond the “set and forget” approach to cybersecurity into an era where it needs to be an integral part of business planning.
To paraphrase a well-known quote, “technology is a great help but a terrible leader”. Technology will not lead you to safety. Your people will. Awareness is key to staying a step ahead. Ensure your people have the training and understand the technology and your cybersecurity strategy. If you do, you are starting with the acknowledgement that, for most of us, the threat of attack is when not if.
Alto is a market-leading Managed Services and Security Provider (MSSP) provider which provides one-stop cover for IT infrastructure and support services. The company is based at Tullos in Aberdeen and employs a team of experienced IT consultants who deliver high quality products and services to more than 50 clients throughout Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. They represent a diverse range of sectors varying from oil and accountancy to hospitality and toy manufacture.
To find out more, visit www.itsalto.com
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