Why Cyber Security Should Be a Priority for Your Business

Cyber-security-cyber-attacksThere is a point-of-entry in every business that is seldom considered. It’s tiny, it’s vulnerable, it’s difficult to observe, and it has the potential to flatline the healthiest of businesses. Without proper and thorough cyber security, this point can turn into a gaping hole – capable of leaking invaluable innovation, private information, and unlimited revenue. This access point is found in a company’s information technology. Computers, laptops, smartphones, servers, tablets, and other electronic devices with internet connectivity are susceptible to dangerous cyber-attacks.

Here’s the deal:

When a company falls prey to a vicious cyber-attack, the results can be staggering. Damaged reputations, theft of sensitive information, and stolen consumer accounts are just a handful of the possibilities. Perhaps the most perilous issue to consider with cyber attacks is the fact that they can come from anywhere and be programmed to look like anything. That’s why an IT & data security investment may be one of the most important decisions an organization will ever make.

Cyber Security Dangers in Modern Business 

Most employers and employees have heard of hackers. Hollywood films are replete with ultra-skilled programmers who seem to be able to hack into banks, surveillance equipment, and even DoD servers on a whim. What most people don’t know is just how damaging a cyber-attack can be when it happens to them.

Below are some of the most common and harmful kinds of cyber-attacks and the costs they incur:

  1. Identity Theft. This is the illegal use of another’s personal information to commit a crime – often fraud. Identity Theft can have far-reaching results. Hackers and scammers can easily steal this information. Internet consumers registering for a site’s services or purchasing products online are almost always required to enter information, such as full name, address, social security number, credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, and so on. The FBI claims that these personal details can be gathered by hackers and used to commit felonies like credit card fraud, social security benefit theft, immigration violations, and even domestic terrorism.
  1. Email Hacks. The world now runs on email. The opinions, executive decisions, and secrets that used to be shared through memos, messengers, or phone conversations in the past are now shared by clicking “send.” Even presidential candidates, government agencies, and massive conglomerates like Sony Entertainment aren’t immune to these attacks. Steven Musil, of CNet.com, reported that the Sony email hacks cost the company “$15 million [in] investigation and remediation costs.” For a company as large and profitable as Sony Entertainment, that number may seem small. However, the private information found in Sony executive emails and shared publicly did inestimable damage – costing C-suite jobs, negatively effecting public opinion, leaking future projects and scripts, and eliminating relationships between the company and Hollywood talent.
  1. Web Viruses. Viruses are myriad and amorphous. There’s Spyware, Adware, Trojans, Worms, Boot Infectors, Macros, Malware, Memory Residents, and on, and on. Their consequences range from overheating and melting electronic components to phishing sensitive information and material. Some viruses may be little more than minor annoyances, slowing computer performance and eating up memory. Others though, can corrupt vital documents. Some can entirely delete the contents of a hard disk. Ransomware is a popular form of malware installed on a computer and restricts access to the infected computer system in some way, and demands that the user pay a ransom to the malware operators to remove the restriction.
  1. Financial Loss. The most prominent culprit in financial loss is credit card theft and fraud. Hackers illegally obtain personal banking information and then either use it themselves or sell it to the highest bidder. A hack of the Sony PlayStation network in 2011 ended up costing the company $170 million. Dozens of other high-profile companies – including tech-savvy giants like Google – have lost millions of dollars to cyber-attacks. When a company’s data security management fails to protect consumers’ financial information, that company might end up having to pay to patch security holes, settle lawsuits, and repay customer losses.

How Can Businesses Prevent Cyber-Attacks 

We can’t emphasize this enough…

The most important thing for any organization to realize is that they can – and should – be doing more with their cyber security. Downloading an antivirus program like AVG or Symantec is not enough. Rigorous router firmware is not enough. A thorough and professional IT security audit of any business will reveal that there are many areas of digital vulnerability that go unaddressed.

Companies should adhere to an extensive cyber security safety checklist like the following:

  1. Firewall/Intrusion Detection – Unauthorized attempts to access, steal, or corrupt data can be tracked and identified with the right detection and prevention database.
  2. Antivirus, Anti-Spyware, Anti-Malware, and Anti-Adware – A thorough suite of protective software should be maintained and utilized on a regular basis with updates and scans.
  3. Up-to-Date Software and Hardware – The longer these are around, the longer potential hackers have to learn how to exploit them. Ensure all warranties and equipment are current and supported.
  4. Cloud Server Safety – Though password-protected, cloud storage security can still be penetrated. Data stored on the cloud should be encrypted and access limited to those that need it.
  5. Stringent Company IT Policies – All company-owned mobile computing (smartphones, laptops, tablets, etc.) and employee access to it should be closely monitored. Employees should be trained on IT security compliance.
  6. Transaction Security – Any internet commerce should be conducted over websites with Secure Socket Layers (SSL). Companies need to provide this option for all their customers.
  7. Environmental/Physical Safety – Electronic and technological assets should be kept in secure locations with optimal environmental standards. Some equipment will malfunction if it is too hot or does not have enough air to breathe.
  8. Disaster Recovery Plan – If in the case of a breach, businesses should have a DRP in place to determine how they will respond, who they can contact for assistance, how to contact (and possibly repay) clients, and what levels of insurance they should maintain.
  9. Database Administration – As companies collect consumer information, HR and partner profiles, advertising efforts, sales practices, proprietary research, etc., they need to safeguard these details in a protective and organized manner.

A Full-Service Solution

For many organizations, IT security remains siloed, disjointed, and under-resourced. Security breaches are extremely costly in terms of time, money, and reputation. For those fortunate few that have yet to experience an IT security breach, research indicates that it’s only a matter of time.

Because technological innovation continues to evolve at light-speed IT security can be complex and overwhelming. Outsourcing IT security can be a great choice. Modern Data is here to help.

Let our IT security experts put together an IT security plan that works with your organization’s cyber security needs and budget. Feel free to contact us for your free IT security audit or questions you may have.

More Articles