In recent years, rapid technological developments have provided enterprises with new tools. From cloud computing to sophisticated project management software solutions, companies are increasingly turning to cutting-edge tech to deal with their day-to-day routine operations. However, while they offer convenience, speed, and precision, digital online solutions also come with risks.
As the recent wave of cyber-attacks shows, hackers are keen to get their hands on valuable data that companies host and process. Why does cybersecurity matter for a business and how can you implement it efficiently?
The Cost of a Data Breach
One of the reasons why cybercrime is on the rise is the importance of data in our daily lives, both personal and professional. As internet penetration keeps increasing and smartphones become a part of our day to day routine, the volume of personal and professional information that we keep or exchange online has grown immensely. Against this setting, cybercriminals keep coming up with more and more sophisticated methods to steal this data and use it to commit identity theft, extort their victims in exchange for money or otherwise acquire financial gain. The ransomware attacks that devastated many businesses around the globe as well as organizations like the British NHS, which ended up losing a whopping £92 million, are proof that their criminal activity can have an extensive impact. In this context, it is especially important to take extra measures when it comes to protecting sensitive personal data like healthcare details or data that is financially crucial, such as banking or payment information.
This is particularly important for businesses which host an immense volume and variety of information. This ranges from employee details to vendor information and personal data of clients. Safeguarding this data has become a top priority for any company that wants to comply with regulatory requirements and legislation – but also keep its reputation intact, as a potential data breach that would compromise client information could have a devastating impact on the image or even value of a brand. The price to pay for mitigating the consequences of a data breach on a technical and institutional level is hefty, too. According to research published on Statista, the average cost of a data breach incident in the US is $7.91 million, while the same figure amounts to $4.74 million in Canada, $4.67 million in Germany, $3.38 million in Japan and $2.88 million in South Africa. Dealing with the effects of a hacker attack can more often than not lead companies to invest a considerable sum – which could very well end up being much higher than the funds they would have invested to protect themselves against hackers.
How to Safeguard Your Company Against Cyber-Attacks
In this context, data loss prevention has emerged as a key aspect of setting up and implementing a well-rounded cybersecurity policy. Data loss prevention (or DLP for short) refers to the practice of establishing mechanisms and processes in order to detect and prevent data breach incidents, including the destruction of valuable data. Typically, DLP is implemented to protect a wide range of data, from Personally Identifiable Information (PII) to Intellectual Property (IP) assets. It also enables businesses to achieve data visibility across all operations, and comply with privacy and data protection regulations. Firewalls are an important part of this strategy, including file firewalls, which allow companies to monitor access to critical files, issue alerts on suspicious behavior patterns, and block file actions that are not consistent with predetermined corporate policy. On a different level, web application firewalls can help safeguard apps hosted online by filtering incoming requests and detecting malicious traffic. Companies can also use other tools at their disposal, like dedicated anti-malware software that can fend off hackers or antivirus solutions which can protect against a wide range of attacks.
Yet, it is also important to not overlook the importance of the people behind the company when drawing up policies. Hiring the right IT experts and cybersecurity consultants can go a long way towards ensuring that you receive tailored protection of high quality. It’s not just about your IT department; every employee should also be aware of the dangers posed and how to avoid them. For instance, if a lot of your data is hosted online and managed by several of your employees, it is crucial that you include cybersecurity in staff induction and carry out regular training sessions and intensive online courses to make sure that everyone is up to speed with best practices. Very often, a careless or negligent employee with access privileges can become a dangerous liability for an organization. If a company is only as strong as its weakest link, then making sure that your employees are properly trained can mean the difference between them falling victim to a phishing email – and infecting your company’s computer network – and having a strong first line of defense for when criminals strike. Providing incentives for employees who enroll in intensive online courses on the subject and conducting tests regularly can make your company go that extra mile.
Being cybersecurity-ready is not easy, especially in the face of increasingly elaborate and widespread hacker activity. But the more you invest into it, the better prepared you will be to detect and prevent an attack.